Welcome to Middle School…Your Parent Guide

FullSizeRender-2

  1. Check your child’s agenda book daily, and check not only homework, but completed homework on a regular basis.
  2. Keep lines of communication with school open. Don’t wait for school to contact you. Take the initiative.
  3. Get to know the teachers, keep in contact, and understand–regardless of what your child comes home and tells you–there is always another side to the story.
  4. Teach your child that every teacher is different, just as co-workers and bosses will be in life.
  5. Be prepared for change. Be prepared for the shock of academic and non-academic discussions in middle school about topics you never heard your child mention before.
  6. Tell administrators about teachers who make a positive impression. Do you enjoy being complimented? So do teachers.
  7. Reward positive accomplishments (agenda book completely filled in, perfect papers, etc.) on a weekly basis. A little goes a long way, and middle schoolers thrive on praise.
  8. Get involved. Research has shown that parents’ participation increases the child’s self-esteem, improves their academic performance, improves the parent-child relationship, and develops a more positive attitude toward school in both the parent and child.
  9. Ask your child to teach you at least three new things they learned each day! Listening is one of the greatest–and most neglected–skills of parenting. Don’t be too busy with the little stuff in life to miss the important moments with your child. When they tell you about their day, look them in the eye, and listen; really listen!

Be objective. Listen to your child’s teachers. Sometimes they may tell you things about your child you aren’t going to like or want to hear. But remember, your child at home is not necessarily the same child they see at school. You don’t have to take everything the teacher says as gospel, but make sure you really listen and consider their advice.

Get With the Program: The Importance of Settling into Routines at the Start of the School Year

The beginning of a new school year can be stressful for children and parents alike. Children must woefully say goodbye to carefree summer days, and say hello to alarm clocks, schedules, and routines. The truth is, as much as a routine may feel foreign to children after three months of freedom, it is vital to put routines in place at the start of the school year. Settling into the school year takes time and patience, especially if your child is transitioning to a new school. However, providing your child with a set routine will make this transition much easier.

It is especially important to begin the routine right when school starts. Have you ever tried to put the toothpaste back into the tube? Trying to implement a routine after beginning the year with a lax attitude is like trying to undo the toothpaste mess—frustrating, messy, and likely impossible.  

Beginning a routine from the get-go eliminates the stress of having to undo negative behavior patterns and mindsets. A set routine provides many advantages for parents and children. Here are ways to initiate a routine:

  • Set expectations
  • Teach time management
  • Provide structure
  • Reduce anxiety by eliminating “the unknown”
  • Build trust between parents/caretakers and children

By setting expectations, children learn what is and is not acceptable. For instance, when children know that homework must be completed by a specific time, there is no questioning or negotiating at the end of the day. Similarly, the routine creates pockets of time in which activities will take place. Children are often booked with practices, rehearsals, homework, family events, etc. Managing all of these items is stressful enough for adults, let alone children. When parents and children plan ahead together to allot time for each activity, children learn how to use their time productively. They also learn to prioritize activities.

A routine is emotionally beneficial, as well. It is human nature to stress about the unknown or unexpected. When children follow routines, they know what to expect. Thus, anxiety is reduced when children are familiar with the trajectory of their day.

Of course, a crazy little thing called life may disrupt the routine from time to time. This is ok. More than ok, actually. Like adults, children learn to be flexible, adaptable, and creative during unpredictable times. It is important for parents to recognize the likelihood that the routine may need to be adjusted occasionally. Plasticity is key to utilizing the routine.

Settling into a new routine could begin by simply implementing a family calendar on the refrigerator. Color-coded sticky notes are a great way to visually coordinate and plan for activities during the week. Children in the middle grades could certainly be responsible for posting their own scheduled activities, as well. This would highlight their important tasks for the week while encouraging personal responsibility. Keeping everyone on the same page, literally and figuratively, will help to create a much-needed routine during the school year!

Kick Start Kindergarten With Success!

 

learning-essentials-pg-hdr

It is Essential to kick start kindergarten with success! As exciting as the first day of school can be, first-timers can experience quite a bit of nerves in the beginning. These are the top ten ways to help reduce anxiety and ease into kindergarten!

  1. Picture it. Research shows that kindergartners are initially concerned with knowing where the bathrooms are, when lunch is, and who will play with them on the playground. Ease these specific concerns by writing a positive story about the first day of kindergarten. Include tasks like getting around the building, lining up for lunch, and making friends at recess. Then have your little one illustrate the story.
  2. Calm the fear of the unknown. Ask the school for a schedule and create a visual list of the daily kindergarten routine. Post it in your home and discuss what a typical day will be like. Knowing “what comes next” is a big hurdle when easing anxiety.
  3. Be an Explorer. Explore the school before the first day—take a tour, walk or drive by the school, play on the playground, visit the website, or talk about the school mascot. Ask questions, such as which way do you turn to get to your classroom?
  4. Say Cheese. At orientation, snap a picture of your child in the classroom with his or her teacher. Capture pictures of the circle time, the front door, the cafeteria, and the gymnasium. Place them on the refrigerator as a visual reminder.
  5. Talk it Out. Talk about the teachers and staff who will teach and care for your child during the day. Look ahead at the school’s event calendar and talk about special activities coming up. Interview a neighborhood child that has already experienced kindergarten. Validate any concerns by telling them about your first day of school.
  6. Let’s Play. Connect with kids in the neighborhood or new friends from orientation before the start of school. Arrange for kids in the class to meet at a local playground just before school starts. A friendly face is always welcome.
  7. Balancing Act. Try out “cafeteria style” eating at a local restaurant and practice opening food packages. Teach them to use their “milk thumb” to hold a round milk container when it is lying flat. This will prevent it from rolling off of their tray. A little self-sufficiency goes a long way.
  8. Rise and Shine. Adjust your child’s sleep schedule, including bedtime and wake-up time, several weeks before school begins. Ten hours of sleep is a good rule of thumb.
  9. Beat the Rush. Shop early for school supplies. Allow your child to select the necessary items. Have your child practice packing a backpack and walking around with it.
  10. Countdown. Anticipate the first day of kindergarten. Count down the days to the start of school, similar to an advent calendar. Ask a school-related question each morning or surprise them with a treat when they open a numbered bag.