• Advice to Parents


    It would be an understatement to say that middle school is a very significant time in a child’s life. Kids go through unbelievable changes emotionally, physically, and socially. Expect these changes to occur, and try to understand that although extremely awkward at times, these changes are normal and natural. Be prepared to expect the unexpected. Middle school is also a fantastic time with many great things happening. There are many opportunities for sports, clubs, and other incredible experiences to share. We recommend allowing your kids to join at least one club or sport. The more they are engaged in extracurricular activities, the happier and healthier they will be, and the more their middle school experience will be memorable.


    Because of all the incredible changes middle school kids go through, it’s a scientific fact that middle school-aged kids need more sleep - even more than elementary school kids - at least 9 hours per night. The temptation for parents of middle school kids is to let them stay up later and not monitor their technology usage. Technology (phones, games, etc.) is the #1 reason kids stay up late. It’s common to see increased negative behaviors in school and at home as technology usage increases and hours of sleep decreases. You should have a plan for how many hours of screen time your child is allowed per day or put a time limit on when all technology should be shut down. Whether or not your child proves that he/she cannot moderate their screen time, you should strongly consider having phones and other devices shut down and turned in by a specific time and having them charge their devices overnight in your room.


    It is an unfortunate reality that devices, apps, and games are designed to be addictive. There are many cases of technology addiction, and the struggle is real. For example, games like Fortnite are specifically designed to be addictive, and kids will go to great lengths to feed their addiction. They sometimes stay up until 4 am and try to hide this from their parents. With addiction comes a lot of issues. These may include your child not wanting to go to school, going to school with only a couple hours of sleep, performing poorly, falling asleep in class, and behaving in a way that gets them into trouble. Many kids experience a lack of real-world identity, increased anxiety, and depression. Games can be fun but should be moderated with limits parents set and hold. If your child doesn’t follow your rules, it might be better to take that game or device away for a while. Sometimes they need to know that technology is a privilege and can and will be taken away if abused. Middle school is when you might feel a shift in your relationship, which is normal.


    It is also normal for middle school kids to become significantly more independent. This means they depend less on you to take care of their basic needs. They still need your love and guidance on higher-level needs like maintaining their self-esteem or helping them balance their time. As they become more independent, it is normal for kids to not talk to their parents as much or desire to spend less time with their parents. Setting aside some quality time each day is important to allow for the opportunity to check in with your children about school. You might plan dinner time, where you all share stories from the day, such as “highs and lows.” Just remember that it’s normal and OK for them to become more independent. They are starting to gain the skills that will help them someday be ready to move out on their own.


    Kids thrive with structure, expectations, and consistency. Giving them assigned time to do homework is helpful. You should consider setting aside one hour each day where kids can do homework or read a book if they don’t have homework. However, it can be tricky to tell whether or not your child has homework. To answer these questions, you will need to be resourceful. You will need to ensure you have access to your Parent Portal account at the beginning of the school year. This is where you can check their grades and attendance. Also, set the expectation at the beginning of the year for your child to keep up with a planner and check it every night. 


    Communication is vital. You are encouraged to have open communication with teachers. The best way to communicate with teachers is via email. Set aside one day each week where you sit down with your child and check their grades and assignments on Parent Portal and Canvas. Also, help them plan their flextime for the week by signing into Flextime Manager. 


    One of the most significant components of student success is attendance. It’s like a drawing - you must be present to win. And when your child is absent, they miss many opportunities to learn. Unlike elementary school, where one teacher teaches many subjects, they now have seven teachers. Students and parents must take the initiative to collect and do makeup work when absent. If you know your child is going to miss school, the best thing to do is to email their teachers and kindly ask them what your child needs to do to not get behind. You may need to teach them how to do this by sitting down with them and emailing their teachers together until that is a skill they can do on their own.


    At SFMS, school rules and expectations apply to all students in all classrooms. Those rules and the Student Code of Conduct are covered during Eagle Time during the school year. It’s normal for kids to make mistakes; it’s often how they learn. The important thing is that they learn from their mistakes so they can correct their behaviors and become better people and not make the same mistakes over and over. We want to help your child develop a growth mindset in all areas of their life.


    Please remember that while expecting a variety of changes, the challenges your incoming 6th grader will face are opportunities to grow and become smarter, stronger, and more equipped to deal with future challenges. Work with your kids in this spirit - set limits, help them set healthy boundaries, and let’s work together to help keep all our kids healthy and safe!