Is your child headed to middle school this year? Middle school can be a challenge for both kids and their parents. These back to school tips for parents of a middle schooler should help!
It’s no accident that the middle school years are set apart from elementary and high school. Somewhere along the line, someone decided the hormonal, prepubescent, and pubescent kids should be corralled in their own special place.
Here are five things to think about as your child heads off (or back) to school this year.
5 Back To School Tips for Middle School Moms (and Dads)
#1 Your Middle Schooler is Growing Up
During middle school, your child will not only be growing physically, but they will also be making huge leaps and bounds mentally. Brace yourself for the questions about…
- “WHHYYYYY do I have to learn this?”
- “When will I use it?”
Have answers ready.
In addition to the questions, you will discover that your child has sudden fits of moodiness – ups and downs, sleepiness (usually when growing) and a back and forth between being a kid and a teen.
This is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for ugly behaviors but keep these NORMAL behaviors in mind. It is now more important than ever to set some expectations and rules for your middle schooler.
For example, if you want them home by dinner time, let them know and put it in writing. The last thing you want is to be arguing with a hormonal tween about why they need to be home by dinner.
In addition to the rules you set, it is important to enforce consequences for breaking them. This will help your middle schooler understand that there are real-world repercussions for their actions.
#2 Physical Needs of Middle Schoolers
Boys and girls in this age range benefit greatly from significant physical activity. It can be an organized sport or something you’ve committed to doing regularly as a family.
The more activity, the better. Challenge your child to push their limits. The exercise boosts the “happy” chemicals in their brains, helps them sleep well, and provides a daily sense of accomplishment.
Speaking of sleep, a good night’s sleep is hard to come by for middle schoolers. They are growing, their brains are working overtime and they are trying to keep up with their friends (socially and academically). According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, kids this age need 9-12 hours of sleep each night.
Here are our tips on a bedtime routine.
That can be tough to do with homework, after-school activities, and social life. Help them out by setting a regular bedtime that allows for at least 8 hours of sleep. You might also want to limit screen time in the hour or two before bedtime.
#3 More Freedom and Responsibility
You don’t need to become a free range parent if you’re not ready but, you do need to recognize the benefits (to you and your child) of giving your middle schooler some new freedoms.
If you haven’t already, think about an allowance for your child. They can use it to buy the things they want and need without always having to ask you for money. It is a good idea to tie allowance in with chores.
Ask them to help with dinner once a week, do their own laundry, or take care of pets. These simple tasks will help your middle schooler feel like they are contributing to the family
Give them the chance to meet with friends on their own. An afternoon of skating or a matinee are good ways to let your child learn how to handle social situations and money in a fairly controlled environment.
Encourage your child to invite friends to your house. Really. Kids do not care if it’s neat or Pinterest-ready. Have some snacks on hand and explain the house rules. It’s a great way to get to know your child and their friends.
#4 Seek Help
If you see your child struggling as they approach higher math or more advanced reading tasks, seek help. Talk to teachers. Talk to your pediatrician.
Look into the many online and local special education resources. The sooner you address a problem, the sooner your child will learn to work with and around their issues.
Ongoing Special Education Tutoring can make a massive impact in your child’s development and quickly steer them back on the path toward success! Your child’s struggles are not a reflection on you as a parent.
If you haven’t already, get to know the school staff. The front office ladies, teachers, counselors, and administrators are all there to help your student have a successful year. Get to know them and let them get to know you.
#5 Step up
In middle school, kids are tossed into a new environment and suddenly expected to be able to manage multiple classes, teachers and requirements on their own. While that is a worthy ultimate goal, few middle school children are up to the task (at first).
But they may not ask for your help.
Devise ways to help your child stay organized, take notes, hand in assignments on time and keep track of their school lives. Organization is not a developmental thing.
Seventh grade does not turn on a switch and make your child capable of designing flow charts, managing their own lives or even getting their dirty underpants to the right hamper.
Organization is learned. And it’s up to you to help them figure it out.
What back-to-school tips for parents of a middle schooler do you have to share?
While you don’t want to be ruled by fear, trust your instincts. You, the parent, will be stepping out on new limbs over the next three years. Know that you can do this and that your child benefits (in lifelong ways) by you’re willingness to ease up on the reins.
With these things in mind, your child’s transition into middle school will be a smooth one!
What back to school tips for parents of a middle schooler can you add to this list? Share them in the comments below.
Looking for more? Here are a few other blogs with back-to-school tips for parents.
- 5 Back to School Tips for Parents of Elementary Students You Need to Know
- 5 Essential Back to School Tips for Parents of High School Students
- How to Help Your Special Needs Child Transition to a New School
- How to Choose The Best School For Your Child With Special Needs