Middle school is one of the most emotionally-charged seasons in every human’s life. Bringing up this rite of passage, from elementary age to high school, is always a good way to create lively conversation between adults. Although it’s a season of life that most of us are glad to leave behind, there’s just something about sharing those vivid, awkward memories that makes us both laugh and cringe all at the same time.
However, the mother of a middle school student needs every little bit of help available when she sends her “just yesterday they started school” child out the door… Knowing full well that today might possibly be the day that her sweet baby is devoured by the middle school monster. So instead of just biting your own nails in empathy, find a few unemotional moments with your middle schooler (yes, they still exist) and walk through a few of the helpful tips below. If you do, you may end up saving them from a monster or two.
Tip Number 1—The lunch cafeteria is the vast desert land of insecurity. It will take some pre-planning on your child’s part, but suggest they make plans to sit with their friends at lunchtime before the lunch period arrives. There’s nothing more awkward than having to sit by total strangers with nothing to say. It’s also a good idea to encourage your child to be friendly with the students who sit near them in class… That way they will have a few more familiar faces they can sit with in the lunchroom if their friends cannot be found.
Tip Number 2—Trying new things can be extra scary at this age, but a new hobby or sport might just be the place where they find new relationships that last through high school. Encourage your student to sign up for new clubs and sports; it’s always easier to do so with a friend, but challenge them to step out of their comfort zone even if their friends won’t join them.
Tip Number 3—Buy a combination lock, teach your child how to use it, and have them memorize their locker combination before the school year starts. Doing so will help them feel confidant when they start using their locker multiple times a day. There’s nothing worse than when you can’t get to your books in order to get to your next class, creating the domino effect of embarrassment from peer to janitor to teacher. You might want to suggest they keep their locker organized too, so that they can find what they are looking for in the 3 minutes available. But that may be asking too much…
Although it’s a season of life that most of us are glad to leave behind, there’s just something about sharing those vivid, awkward memories that makes us both laugh and cringe all at the same time.
Tip Number 4—Push your student to learn their schedule, help them chart a route, and make sure they have what they need for class. If your child is just beginning middle school and is late to class, they might get a pass from the teachers the first week, but after that all bets are off. If they start off on the right foot, they won’t have those second-week confrontations that every student wants to avoid. If you can get into the school over summer break, it’s not a bad idea to take a trip over there and walk around—helping your child become acquainted with the building and hallways.
Tip Number 5—Homework is not optional. Elementary school may let missing assignments slide, but that’s not going to happen in middle school. If you haven’t yet, this is the time to start letting them sink or swim on their own. No more checking in to make sure they have done what they know to do.
Tip Number 6—Teachers are not the enemy. They may expect more and the work is more difficult, but if your child needs help, encourage them to ask. Most teachers are there to teach; they want your student to learn and will do what they can to see that happen.
Tip Number 7—They can do this. Encourage, encourage, encourage. They may roll their eyes and shrug their shoulders, but if their parents believe they are capable, it helps them believe it too.
Remember, middle school is a great training ground for life. So let your child enter this boot camp; it will help prep them for future life success. Be their biggest and best cheerleader, because there will be some days when they will certainly need one.