Stories and insights on excellent education.
5 Ways To Help Your Child Succeed In Middle School
Success Academy – April 29, 2020
It’s your child’s biggest transition since kindergarten: Suddenly, they are ready to leave the world of elementary school for middle school — a world filled with new teachers, a new schedule, and new social pressures. We know these changes can be overwhelming, so we talked to staff and parents about this transition. Here’s some of their advice on setting scholars up for success.
In middle school, everything seems new — the building, the classmates, and most importantly, the teachers. Although the teachers might have been new to my scholars, that didn’t mean they had to start from scratch getting to know them. I called my elementary school teachers and asked them to speak with my scholars’ middle school teachers so they could get a sense of their history and who they are, and I found it so helpful. They built relationships quickly with my scholars and understood them even better than they had before, which really comforted my scholars and eased the transition. — Beverly Persad, mom to 5th and 6th graders at SA Lafayette MS
From day one in middle school, each of my kids was assigned an advisor with whom I could talk to about expectations and progress. Before school started, my son’s advisor called me to see if I had any questions or concerns. It was clear to me that we were on the same team, and I felt so supported. I initiate meetings with my kids’ advisors and teachers at the start of each semester as well as any time I have an issue. They always make it work, even if we have to talk at 6:45 am before I go into work. We are partners, and because they have the same open-door policy in middle school that they did in elementary school, both of my kids had a seamless transition to fifth grade. — Jill Cysner, mom to 5th and 7th grade scholars at SA Bed-Stuy Middle School
I can’t stress this enough — go to the events. This year, in place of in-person events, Success Academy will be holding webinars where you can meet your principal and learn more about middle school, and I encourage you to attend! When I went to the tour last year with my scholar, the staff was so enthusiastic and welcoming. Getting to meet middle school staff and hear them talk about their experience took away so much of my uncertainty and comforted me. It was also important to me to bring my daughter because I wanted her to have a bit of ownership over the process and learn for herself. My daughter loved the idea of getting to learn about coding, and that made her so excited to attend BSMS. The fact that she knew that up front gave her a sense of belonging I don’t think she would have had otherwise. — Kate Davis, mom to 5th grade scholar at BSMS
Join us on May 7, 2020, for a live webinar to see what a day in the life of an SA middle school scholar looks like. RSVP here, and be on the lookout for more events this month! Also, be sure to follow your school’s Facebook and Instagram to stay connected and updated on their latest news and events.
The transition to relying entirely on a Chromebook in middle school was a big adjustment for my son. Scholars are expected to type their assignments in class and use it for all of their homework, so their fluency in typing and on computers can really affect their grades. I know fourth graders are now spending more time typing and are working on Chromebooks for remote learning. Whatever grade your scholar is in, if you’re a parent whose child just received a Chromebook, the biggest piece of advice I can give to you is to set aside time to explore its applications and practice — whether over the summer or a dedicated evening after school. Also, my son was a really slow typist, so assignments would take hours! I gave him extra practice with a typing program, and now he even types faster than I do! The familiarity with technology and typing skills he developed reduced his homework time significantly and gave us so much time and sanity back. If fourth grade families take advantage of this time, it will really give them a leg up if and when they attend an SA middle school. — Beatriz Escobar, mom to 5th grader at BSMS
A big part of transitioning to middle school is learning how to become independent and take personal responsibility for your work. One personal space that every middle schooler gets is a locker — and it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but some kids really struggle with it. Kids will spend hours on their work and not get credit simply because they forgot their work in their locker! Learning how to be organized is crucial, and practicing at home is the perfect opportunity to build great organizational habits! Encourage your scholar to make systems that work for them, so that when they return to their school building, they’ll already have practice. This helps kids be more individually responsible not only academically, but personally as well!
Finally, I’d recommend checking out parentteenconnect.org. It features teens and their parents in conversation about real issues, like screen time, independence, and responsibility, and can help parents know they’re not alone in navigating these changes! — Rachel Duvall Holleran, Associate of Scholar Crisis Support and Prevention