5 Tips for Tweens Entering Middle School

Ridgewood Teen, Sophia Swanson, shares tips from teens entering middle school.
by Sophia Swanson
1. Make new friends, and (usually) keep the old.
Middle school can be a turning point in many students’ lives, and for good reason.  Not only are you introduced to (literally) hundreds of new kids in one day, but you will notice that many people will start to define or redefine themselves, whether it be as scholars, athletes, artists, or a combination of several categories. These shifts frequently transfer into their friend groups, and it’s perfectly natural.

In other words, don’t be surprised if your social circle changes from elementary to middle school. If it doesn’t, that’s perfectly fine too!  Just be confident and surround yourself with positive, supportive people.  I always try to think of the factors that I can and cannot control in my life.  Fortunately, in most cases, it is purely your choice as to who you decide to hang out with.

2. Social Media — What do I do?!
Many of your peers will get involved with some form of social media by the time middle school rolls around.  Follow these basic guidelines to navigate your Instagram feed/Snapchat streaks/Facebook wall with ease.

DO: Think before you post or hit send.  Can this picture or message seriously hurt or offend anyone?  Would you want your parents, principal, future employer, or grandma seeing this?  Also, look over your privacy settings!  Keep yourself safe out there – the Internet is a big place with a lot of strangers.

DON’T: Post or share overemotional/important messages online.  If you need to express your feelings, have a face-to-face conversation with your best friend(s).  In my experience, this is a way more efficient and less confusing communication method.  So many things can be misinterpreted over text or through social media!

NEVER: Share your age, sex, or location/address (commonly abbreviated ASL) with strangers.

3. Skyward should not dictate your life.
Middle school signifies your first experience with Skyward, a tool meant to help you stay on top of your assignments and assessments.  When used incorrectly, however, it can cause major – and unnecessary – stress.  Check Skyward 2-3 times per week.  It’s a waste of cell phone data, Chromebook battery, and brain cells to obsessively check it throughout the day.

Skyward also means that you can see your actual grades, a big change from the vague elementary school report cards.  If you see a bad one in there from time to time, take a deep breath and brainstorm solutions to boost your scores.  Ask yourself: Were these silly mistakes?  Or do I not understand the material?  If so, talk to a teacher after class!  Head over to the public library after school — high school volunteers will tutor you at no cost!  And always keep things in perspective.

4. Don’t sweat first day/week/month fears.
If your locker won’t open the first five – or six – or eight – times you try, take a minute to laugh.  If you walk into a room packed with eighth graders and you’re supposed to be in science, ask the teacher for directions.  If you get a little turned around, ask a seventh or eighth grader!  They will be happy to steer you the right way. Be forgiving and kind to yourself —  it’s not like you were just thrown into a bigger building with many more people, or anything. 🙂

5. When you do have to get sweaty, stay cool and clean.Your body will start to mature right around middle school, so it just makes sense that gym teachers will ask you to start changing in September.  Pack deodorant and a change of clothes for gym class, and replace your outfit with a new one every week.  Ladies, throw a more supportive bra in your bag while you’re at it!  When it’s time to change, be respectful of other’s privacy and they will return the favor.

(Please do not change in the bathroom stalls!  Not only will teachers get angry, but it will inevitably frustrate people who actually need to use the bathrooms before gym.  99% of the time, it’s easier to change out in the open.  Think of all the extra space!)

Ridgewood High School Junior and Tips Contributor Sophia Swanson is Co-Founder of Girls on the Rise and is here to share her tips for surviving the teen years.

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