If your child is just finishing up elementary school, you’ve probably heard it all year: the transition to middle school is a big one. “Classes are more challenging, teachers expect more, and there’s more homework, responsibility and pressure overall,” says Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center.
How can you help your child navigate this major change? Huntington offers these seven tips:
Set expectations. Give your child an idea of what’s to come. Talk regularly about the specific aspects of the school experience that will be different, including:
Size of school
Number of students
Number of classes
Amount of homework
Teacher expectation changes
Grade point average
Discipline and behavior expectations
Focus on time management. It’s time to get serious about curbing those time-wasters and bad habits. Work with your child on establishing a daily routine and scheduling time for everything: school, sleep, dinner, homework, extracurriculars and free time. Discuss the importance of planning out study sessions and prioritizing homework assignments.
Work on the organizational system. Good organization goes hand in hand with time management, and students who embrace both perform better academically and are less stressed. Invest in a large binder with folders for each subject to keep everything in one central place. At school, have your child divide the locker into shelves/slots for books, take-home folders and leave-at-school folders. At home, an accordion file, stackable letter trays or a file cabinet will assist your child in keeping track of graded homework and everything else. Also, these apps for digital organization are worth a look too: iStudiez Pro, Todoist, RescueTime and Scanner Pro.
Build independence. Up to now, you’ve probably played an integral role in school. It’s essential that your child begins to take full ownership of his or her school work and grades and feel the impact of any and all choices, both good and bad. As best you can, step back as your child moves into middle school. Put your child in charge.
Empower your child. A big part of being independent is learning to advocate for oneself. In middle school, teachers want students to participate in class and come forward when they don’t understand something. If your child’s teacher doesn’t grade a test correctly or mistakenly marks him or her absent, it’s on your child, not you, to point out those things. With teachers, those early first impressions matter.
Take a tour. Many middle schools offer orientation programs for incoming students that include school tours and other valuable information sessions. Take advantage of this opportunity if available. If there’s nothing formal in place, call the school to ask about tours and any informal mentoring programs that could help your child.
Teach your child to recognize when to ask for help. In middle school, it’s still critical that you keep the lines of communication with your child open and watch for any warning signs that he or she might be struggling. However, your child needs to be self-aware enough to identify when he or she needs help. Start talking about how to manage stress and a heavy workload and what to do when your child feels overwhelmed.
Middle school is a whole new ballgame, and it’s important to help your child prepare. “Don’t worry, though,” adds Huntington. “A little effort goes a long way to get students ready. Lay the groundwork now and your child will have a successful middle school experience.”
Huntington is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students succeed. Founded in 1977, Huntington’s mission is to give every student the best education possible. Learn how Huntington can help at www.huntingtonhelps.com. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.