What To Expect From Middle School
The transition from elementary school to middle school is more profound than some parents realize. Learn what the main differences will be and where most kids have challenges. Discover what parents can do to support their children through the middle school years.
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What To Expect From Middle School
Well, it happened. You blinked, and now your baby is in middle school! Many parents enter the middle school years with a reluctant enthusiasm because they know the teen years are creeping in closer. Well, I am here to tell you that middle school is not that scary, but there are things you need to know to prepare for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Today’s tips will prepare you and your child for a successful school year.
Hello, my name is Kristina Campos. I am the founder of the Impactful Parent. Every week I give you parenting videos that can help you in your parenting journey. If you have a particular topic or parenting question about your school-aged child that you would like me to address, please submit it at [email protected] or by messaging me on social media. All submissions are kept anonymous.
Today, I will talk to you about what to expect from a middle schooler. I will explain the differences between elementary school & middle school. I will talk about how some things should shift, like expectations, and stick around to the end because I will also give tips for setting your child up for a successful middle school experience. Let us get started!
There is a lot of change for a child entering middle school. Although we all know the differences, most parents do not think about how profoundly different middle school is from elementary. For starters, students no longer stay with one beloved teacher all day. In middle school, students learn from multiple teachers for the first time. This also means changing classrooms throughout the day and getting to know several teachers. For the first time, students must learn to work with peers, teaching styles, and expectations in several different classrooms. Middle school students have a small say in what they want to learn for the first time because many get to pick elective classes. Alongside the excitement of having some say in what they are learning, middle schoolers get their first opportunities to play sports or join after-school extracurricular activities. In middle school, kids have lockers and a bigger campus, and they may be required to change clothes for PE and wear deodorant. The social opportunities outside the classroom increase with the opportunity to attend school dances. But the most significant and most challenging change for students between the elementary and middle school years is the expectations of academic rigor.
For the first time, your child will be asked to learn the teaching style and expectations of several teachers simultaneously. They will need to manage their schedule, homework, and projects without a homeroom teacher holding their hand and reminding them of all the due dates. In middle school, students start to differentiate a lot more. Various levels of ability begin to become even more apparent. The kids that struggle with executive functioning skills like organization, time management, focus, planning, and self-control, will have a more difficult time with the middle school transition than some of their peers.
Teachers will expect more from your child, like an increase in homework and independence to do the work asked of them without much assistance. Your child will have to manage multiple homework assignments and deadlines. Teachers will begin to implement higher-order thinking skills into the curriculum. And finally, there is a base knowledge and skill level that most teachers will expect your child is already proficient.
Teachers are less accessible to students than before, making matters more complicated. If your child needs help, they will have to make an appointment with their middle school teacher, who might not be available during convenient times. Also, the classroom sizes will get larger in middle school, which means less individual attention. Parents are expected to step back and not cuddle their children as much. This means there is less opportunity for the parents to get into the classroom and be involved. Some students will thrive in their new independence; others will struggle when they do not have the homeroom teacher, mom, or dad for support.
Not only is it important for parents to be aware of the new expectations of middle school, but it is also vital to support your child’s growth to independence and maturity. Here are some tips parents can implement to help support their children during their elementary to middle school transition.
- Create a solid daily routine where your child is expected to wake up, get homework done, and go to bed at a designated time each day. This routine is pivotal to making sure your child is getting enough sleep and know when to expect to do homework every day.
- Help your child create a schedule and system for recording their responsibilities. Knowing how to use a calendar, write things down, and keep track of responsibilities is a skill and not intuitive. For the whole first semester of the school year, expect to be over your child’s shoulder for a while. This ensures they get into the habit of using a daily planner and tracking assignments.
- Help your child with study skills and executive functioning. This might mean helping them learn study skills and how to manage their time at the beginning of the semester. Help your child with organization and keeping their locker clean. This might mean stopping by the school every Friday to check out what might be buried at the bottom of their locker.
- Keep computers out of the bedroom and minimize distractions where you expect your child to study. Kids do not do this well on their own. They think they can learn in front of TVs, phones, and iPad, but instead, get your child into the habit of studying in a well-lit and quiet place.
- Teach your child to be their own advocate. Help them email their teachers and sign up for extra help when they need it. Many kids need help with this. They do not want to email their teachers because it feels intimidating, embarrassing, or they are just afraid.
- Although I highly encourage much support and monitoring during the first semester of middle school, I also suggest increasing expectations at home to match what is expected in the classroom. It is time to encourage your child to be more independent, self-reliant, and mature. This could mean loosening the reins and monitoring once you feel your child can do things independently. It could also mean more chores at home, like doing their own laundry.
- Lastly, hold your child accountable for their actions. Now is the time to start teaching responsibility. If you want tips on that, I have a video in the app called: Teaching Responsibility under the All-Ages Section of the Impactful Parent app. In short, do not rescue your child from natural consequences unless necessary. Do not bring their jacket to school if they forget it. Do not do their homework for them when they leave the assignment until the last minute. Instead, allow your child to experience the world as it is- with the natural consequences of their actions, both good and bad.
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But until next time, you got this, parents. I am just here to help.
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