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Middle School Transitioning - The Good, Bad and Ugly

Oh boy, here we go! So, we got through middle school, and all the little bumps in the road. Not as crazy I as imagined for my daughter, who is now finishing her 8th grade year. It’s been interesting with middle school. Way different than the elementary years. The best way I can explain middle school transitioning is it being very much a black and white experience. Definitely no grey areas. Things go either smoothly or not. It’s a maturity thing for middle schoolers. They’re so busy trying to navigate their way, with bouncing from one period to the next as they’ve got six periods each day, that they tend to lose sight of the most incredible thing that’s happening to them – they’re becoming independent! Hallelujah! It’s absolutely amazing!

Sure, there’s the uneasiness in the beginning of 6th grade. How will they get from one period to the next as they’re rushing through the hallways with that darn backpack that on average weighs 12 pounds ? And what if they also have a musical instrument to carry? How will they keep organized with six subjects and six different teachers? Where will they sit for lunch amongst the 6th, 7th and 8th graders? How will they navigate their social world on top of all this? Well, rest assured, they DO manage all this. While middle schoolers’ hormones are bursting, your nerves might be bursting as well trying to support their middle school years! Yet, somehow, someway, they manage to figure it all out. Overworked with hours of homework, and trying to manage mood swings, together with creating a social life at school seems to be like running a marathon when you feel like you’ve only got so much in you to make it to the finish line. My own helpful tips:

  • Be open and supportive with your children

  • Don’t judge them while they’re busy telling you about their day

  • Don’t accept just “good” when you ask them how their day was (try asking open ended questions, like “what was the best part of your day?”)

  • Don’t grill them on every single detail of their day. As long as they know you’re supportive, they might just give you more than you think

  • Organization is key, so as the parent, you need to check in with homework completion and assignments as they are learning to become independent. Go through their backpack periodically. Don’t be afraid if you find papers that smell like the tuna lunch you packed them from weeks ago

  • Praise them for being organized!

  • Keep all cell phones away during homework time

  • It’s good for them to have a central location for homework, AND I recommend consistency (that means doing homework in the same place/area every day)

  • Make sure they have a healthy snack after school, and some down time (don’t forget, they just had a 6-7 hr day!)

  • Their friendships can shift. Perfectly normal. Let them be the judge of where they feel they fit in, although keep in mind, unhealthy peer relationships can affect their academic achievement. Be present, and take notice of their grade patterns.

  • Monitor technology time (this means all forms of social media). Probably one of the most important tips also, as this can interfere with focusing issues, as well as impacting their sense of self . Having access to laptops, computers, cell phones, etc. is a privilege, not a right. Being a good parent is monitoring what they’re posting and viewing during their middle school years. After all, wouldn’t you rather know what’s going on in their social world than hearing it from someone else???

Lastly, breathe, breathe, breathe!

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