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For Parents, By Parents: Adjusting Your Child To Middle School

Attention soon-to-be middle school scholars and families: we have a special message to you from one of our own SA Hudson Yards Middle School moms! Cynthia Vasquez, mom to a current 5th grader, wanted us to pass this along: 

Dear future middle school scholars, open your mind and heart to becoming a middle schooler! Always remember in your heart that all of the struggles and hard work will pay off. Being at Success Academy is a gateway to great opportunity because SA has an amazing amount of resources to help. Teachers are friendly and fun and make your day fun. You’re going to do great!

We know you and your scholar may have a number of questions about the transition to middle school, so we talked to Success Academy parents — like Ms. Vasquez — about how you can help make the most of what is an exciting and transformative time. Below is some of their advice on setting scholars up for success.

Adjusting is a Team Effort!

Some adjustments, like getting up and going to bed earlier, might seem small, but they were actually harder to adjust to than we expected. You don’t have to do it alone! Don’t be afraid to share that information with your scholar’s teacher, even if it’s just to say “my scholar had a bad night, they might be tired today,” or “they were stressed out about something they heard in class.” Your scholar’s teacher can use this information to better support your scholar during the day. 

—Tracey Keij-Denton, parent to two scholars at SA Midtown West Middle School

Questions, Questions, Questions! 

I always encourage my scholar to ask questions and not be afraid to speak up if they don’t understand something. Having the confidence to ask for help is nothing to be ashamed of, and will help in the long run. Don’t shy away from doing the same thing with your scholar’s teachers, either. I frequently ask them how my scholar is doing and what she needs to work on; their insights are so important to helping my scholar succeed. 

—Tracy Boone, parent to 8th-grade scholar at SA Bronx Middle School

Make Time for your Scholar to Decompress

I believe that letting my scholar’s brain rest every once in a while is so important to them not burning out. So once they come home, I don’t pressure them to get their homework done immediately. First, they relax, eat snacks, and then we have family time in the kitchen. After dinner is when I expect them to sit down at the table to study and complete their homework.  I try to keep it light to help them stay motivated — after an hour, if they have been diligently working, we have what we call a “phone vacation,” when they can check their phone, before returning to work to complete it. 

—Cynthia Vasquez, parent to 5th-grade scholar at SA Hudson Yards Middle School

Never Stop Encouraging

Middle school may be “harder,” but it’s so important that your scholar knows they can do it!  Every night at dinner, I speak with my scholar about how school went, what he’s learning, and where he may need help. I make sure that I focus on encouragement and praise him when he’s doing a good job. It helps immensely to keep his spirits up and build confidence, which helps him tackle any challenges that may come his way! 

—Lily Burkhart, parent to 5th-grade scholar at SA East Flatbush Middle School

Overcommunicate 

I can’t stress this enough — communication with both your scholar’s teachers and your scholar is so important. Your scholar’s teachers are their number one supporters, so make sure to have a good relationship with them by following up and being actively involved in conversations. My scholar and I also have daily morning and evening “pow-wows.” In the morning, we use them to encourage a positive start to her day. In the evening, we evaluate how her day went, identify barriers and challenges, and find ways to overcome them.  

—Tina Burke, parent to 5th-grade scholar at SA Springfield Gardens Middle School

Written by Eric Black November 7, 2022

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