Middle School: Tips for Helping Your Child Adjust

It’s back to school time – can you believe it  – and now that you’ve finished shopping, it’s time to start thinking about how to help your kid have a stellar year.  Lots of times we focus on our kindergartener, but really middle school can be a trying time. This is that age when children start to change from little kids to adults, and they have something of a battle going on inside them. Peers start to mean more, and parents may feel they are losing their influence. But there are some things you can do to help make it easier. Here are some tips for helping your child adjust to middle school.

Talk to Your Child

Have you tried asking your child some questions about his or her concerns about starting middle school? Try having a conversation where you don’t judge or show big reactions, and see if you can discern some of the things she’s concerned about. Try to phrase things positively, putting yourself in the position of helper not critic.

Remember Where Your Child’s Mind Is

You may be thinking only of academic performance and how this new stage will affect it, but did you stop to think about what your child is thinking about most? Do you remember what you were thinking about the most when you were in middle school?

Most kids this age are thinking about their friends, their looks, and boys/girls (whatever the opposite sex is). In other words, they are really much more focused on the social scene and what others think about them than they are about grades. This doesn’t mean you should let grades slide; it just helps you understand why their mindset seems to be changing. It is!

Tour the School

Just like for younger kids getting ready to start Kindergarten, your middle school student will be attending a new place with new teachers and classrooms. He will have lots of teachers – a different one for each subject – rather than one teacher all day.

So take your child for a tour of the school before the first day to help him get oriented. It can be overwhelming to change classes for the first time, trying to find the right classroom, the cafeteria, and so forth. You can help take some of the edge off by touring the school first.

Don’t Change Everything

This is a time of big upheaval for your child. Try to keep some of those comforting family routines and rituals in place as the middle school years roll around. Your child may not act like she values these traditions, but they can really help keep her secure and grounded in the middle of all the change.

Tweet: Middle school muddle? Help your child adjust to this significant transition with these practical tips. LINK

Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten

Do you have a kindergartner starting this year – it’s exciting and frightening. What can you do get your child ready for this all important year?l Here are some tips to help you out.

Read!

All kinds of sources agree that reading aloud to your child is very important for preparing them – not only for reading on their own, but also for school in general. Old-fashioned nursery rhymes have been shown to be helpful in teaching children about language, phonics, and rhyming. So go to the library and stock up on some age-appropriate books and get to reading together!

Clay Letters

Play with clay and show your child how to form letters out of clay. If you like, start with a word he really likes, such as his own name or the name of a favorite pet or toy. This hands-on, tactile activity helps reinforce the concept of forming letters with the hands, and may help prepare your child for handwriting.

Identification

Talk about the names of colors and shapes when you are out and about (or even at home) with your child. Tell her the names of shapes of familiar objects and name the colors. You might play a game of “I spy” to help reinforce this in a fun way. In this game, you say something like, “I spy something red and round,” and then let your child guess what it is. Then your child can choose something and let you guess.

Visit the School and Meet the Teacher

Familiarity can really help your child adjust to kindergarten. See if you can arrange to tour the school and meet the teacher, and hopefully more than once. Let your child see the playground, classroom, and cafeteria of the school.

Independence

See what you can do to foster independence in your child before kindergarten. Practice tying shoes (it’s understandable if your child doesn’t master this right away, but it helps to have a start), dressing himself, and using the bathroom alone. If separation is an issue, practice some separations with caregivers before the big day arrives.

Scissors

We all know not to run with them, but cutting with them is an important school-age skill. Do some fun projects with your child that involve cutting various shapes and lines, from straight to wavy.

Get a Check-Up

Before going to kindergarten, it’s a good idea to visit with your pediatrician for a check-up. Also make sure your child is up-to-date on his vaccinations, and find out what your child’s school requires in this regard.