13 PARENT TIPS
Although your middle schooler is becoming more independent and is increasingly involved in activities outside the family, you should and must remain the most influential person in his life. Through your involvement in school and extracurriculars, you can do much to help your child believe in the value and importance of education, be enthusiastic about learning, and achieve academic success. As a middle-school principal, a big part of my job is to help parents support their children emotionally as well as academically. Here is my best advice for parents of preteens:
- Help your child manage homework time. Encourage her to aim high and always do her best work. Check with teachers to see how much time should be necessary to complete homework. See what your school offers to help you help your child, such as an agenda planner or some other homework reminder system, and/or a Web site with helpful links.
- Show interest in your child's studies by talking with him daily about what he's learning and doing in school (don't take "nothing" for an answer!). If you know your child has a project for science, get involved. The same goes for cheerleading, sports, and music — any extracurricular activities.
- Discuss ideas and feelings about school, studies, and activities. Be realistic about what your child can and should be able to do. Don't expect great grades or high test scores if she isn't capable. That expectation will only cause unnecessary frustration.
- Read and review with your child the information that schools and districts provide. Be familiar with the pupil progression plan, course offerings, student handbook, etc. All these will help you and your child successfully weave your way through the maze called middle school.
- Contact counselors, administrators, and teachers periodically. Find out what your child should be learning, how she is progressing, and how you can help. Be a full partner in your child's education.
- Be sure that he attends school on a regular basis. Even if he is absent for illness or another valid reason, he needs to keep up with his studies. Call the school if your child will be missing a day, and find out what he needs to do to make up for it.
- Encourage her to pursue interests and make friends through extracurricular activities. Be certain, however, that she selects no more than a few activities so she has adequate time for schoolwork. You must help her find a balance; this will take compromise and patience.
- Know your child's friends. Who does your child hang out with? Follow up on any suspicions that you may have. It is better to be safe than sorry at this time of your child's life. Know where your child is at all times. Be clear and consistent with discipline.
- Make it clear that she must follow school rules and policies. Teach her to respect people as well as property. Help her know right from wrong and what she must do when negative temptations come her way.
- Encourage him to get to know his counselor and to maintain contact throughout his middle-school years, if possible. Not only will the counselor be invaluable in supporting his academic path, he's also one of many potential adult role models for your child.
- Attend parent meetings, open houses, booster clubs, parent education groups, and other activities for parents. I mentioned this before, but it is very important for your child!
- Volunteer at school. Both your child and the school will benefit from your involvement and help. Schools solicit volunteers to help in a variety of ways: tutoring, assisting in the media center, giving speeches, helping out at activities, chaperoning, etc.
- Consistently acknowledge and reward efforts at school. Many parents expect the school to provide the incentives for their child's accomplishments. While schools do have a lot of motivation programs, parents need to recognize their child's successes too. When your child works hard, your acknowledgment motivates him to persist.
TOP TEN STUDENT TIPS
#1 Sleep well. Teens and young adults should be getting 8 to 10 hours per night. Enough sleep is critical for your body and brain to function well.
#2 Eat right. Healthy and balanced meals give your body and mind energy to work well throughout the day. Take extra time and effort to make sure you’re not only eating enough, but eating a mix of everything you need (fruits, veggies, dairy, and whole grains).
#3 Do your homework. Making it a habit to do your homework each night will help you practice skills and be ready for the quizzes and tests. It also helps to show your teacher that you care, which may come in handy when you need his or her help.
#4 Pay attention in class. Focusing and using class time wisely is one of the best ways to get ahead in middle school. Since you’ll be switching around from class to class, it’s important to pay attention and follow along for every minute that you can.
#5 Get involved. Research shows that school involvement can be a big determining factor for your success. Kids who are involved with after school activities, sports, and clubs are more likely to do well inside and outside of school.
#6 Think positive. Things are going to get tough and overwhelming at times. It’s important to stay positive and know that you CAN do whatever you put your mind to.
#7 Ask for help. Whether it is academic, social, or emotional help, there are adults at the school ready and willing to help you. Seek out and ask for help when you feel you might need it.
#8 Stay organized. A little organization goes a LONG way in middle school. Writing down homework in a consistent place and keeping pages organized in the right spots will help you study, turn in work, and do better on tests/quizzes.
#9 Make goals. Give yourself something that you want to attain by the end of the marking term. Then, make a plan and stick with it to get there.
#10 Take risks. Middle school is the time when you start to grow up and figure out who you are in the world. Take risks and be brave. It will pay off in the end!