A Parent’s Guide to Surviving Middle School

1.Check your kids work

Middle school is synonymous with more independence right?  WRONG!  Just when it seems our kids are getting older and can handle more responsibility, they seem to slide backwards when they hit 6th grade.  Unfortunately for many parents, the realization comes too late.  We find out at the end of the marking period that homework hasn’t been done, a project has been missed or they’ve been slacking in class.  Parent-Teacher conferences are loaded with, “But they told me they did all their homework.”  Kids are overwhelmed in middle school and that often means we have to be more involved.  

If it turns out you are the parent finding out at the last minute, be careful not to overreact.  That just causes them to hide their actions more, out of fear of getting in trouble.

 

2. Stay in contact with teachers

While we all want to believe that our child is the most important kid in the class, we have to be honest with ourselves.  Your kid’s teacher has a minimum of 100 other kids they are teaching everyday.  You need to reach out to the teacher with any worries or concerns you may have.  If there is something you want the teacher to know, e-mail early.  Don’t wait for there to be a problem to make your first contact.  

 

3.“Friend” them

Bullying happens at every age, however in middle school is when it’s at its peak.  Most times our kids don’t tell us when it’s happening.  Be proactive and friend request your kid on everything they use.  If they don’t have it entering middle school, they will have it by the time they are leaving.  You may have to open an account on a minimum of 4 different types of social media, but it is worth it to make sure your kid is safe.

4.Let them fail

One of the biggest mistakes I made while my kids were in middle school is fighting for them when it was their mistake.  If my child forgot a project was due, I was the one e-mailing the teacher to ask for an extension.  If they received a low grade I  immediately contacted the teacher and asked them for a make-up exam.  Kids need to learn there are consequences for not studying or waiting until the last minute to do a project and when we cover for them, they will suffer in the long run when we can’t call their college professor or their boss.

 

5.Ask your kid

It seems simple, but surprisingly most of us don’t ask the right questions.  Typically as parents we are concerned with academics, “How was your day?”  “What did you do in English class?” “Did you learn anything new in math?”  Of course these are important questions but more often a slide in grades has a direct connection to their emotional state.  Ask questions such as, “How was lunch?” “Who did you sit with?” “How was your elective?”  If your kid is facing any social problems it’s most likely not happening in their major subjects.  It usually occurs where kids have more freedom like the cafeteria, the hallways or in less structured environments such as their electives.  

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Author: Jennifer Koliatsis

Jennifer is a middle school English teacher. She lives in Bethpage with her husband and two teenagers. To her, a great night out is anywhere with great people, whether that's at home, a new restaurant, or even a PTA meeting.

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