• When Everything Changes!

    Summarized from an article by Margery D. Rosen, Scholastic Parents

    Middle School! Just when your child is in the throes of roller coaster emotions and physical body changes, the time to begin middle school arrives! As they struggle with these normal changes, they may sometimes be distracted, forgetful, anxious, self-conscious and argumentative.

    And into this these students now must begin middle school where everything is new, too. Students moving to a new school setting may have to separate from some friends and they will have to learn new teachers for every subject. Classes are harder, there will be more homework and the student must manage multiple assignments and some long-term projects. Organizational skills, time management and retaining what they've learned are essential skills for middle schoolers.

    But middle schoolers are acutely concerned with what their friends think and that affects their own self-concept and values. Your middle schooler still wants to make good grades and please you, but he/she wants to be popular at school. The experiences students have in middle school and how they feel about those experiences directly affect their learning.

    Middle schoolers need their parents! Parents can anticipate the difficulties their child will experience, help them learn how to manage and how to roll with the punches. 

    Here are three common challenges middle-schoolers face and ways parents can help.


    1. The student has a different teacher for each subject, each with his/her own teaching style and expectations.

      • Attend orientation and open house events. Tour the school and meet the administrators and teachers. Look at the layout of the school, learn where things are, see the lockers, the cafeteria, the restrooms, learn about the structure of the day.

      • Meet your child's counselor. The counselor has skills and training in the developmental needs of early adolescence and will act as a mentor and advocate for your child.

      • As the year goes by, meet all of your child's teachers. Contact them when you have questions and want to discuss concerns.

      • During middle school learn about high school: the language (GPA, credit, athletic eligibility, etc.), the graduation requirements, which programs and courses are available and how do you know what to choose, etc.


    1. Friendships shift: The student is trying to figure out who's in, who's out and where he/she stands on the social ladder. Middle school friendships and alliances shift often, maybe more than once a day. The sudden changes can leave the student feeling confused, angry or overcome with self-doubt.

      • Help your child eat right, exercise and get enough sleep. Teach your child how to manage time and tasks and how to relax.

      • Be approachable. Encourage your child to talk but don't ask too many questions. Reinforce that you can be counted on. Communicating can help your child understand his/her own feelings. Always invite your child to talk: 'If you feel like talking, please join me in the kitchen.'

      • Tune in to your child. Listen in the car sitting in the car, side by side.

      • Bolster social skills. Model and teach positive ways to interact with others – don't interrupt, share, invite friends over, etc.


    1. Your child feels down on him/herself and may be irritable or distracted.

      • Don't overreact. This is a tumultuous time in your child's life. Offer emotional support. Empathize. Continue to teach positive ways to deal with feelings and difficulties. Know that you child is his/her own worst critic but can learn how to substitute positive messages for negative ones.

      • Stay involved in school. Attend school programs, athletic events, plays, teacher conferences, open houses, back-to-school activities. Your involvement sends the message that school is good, important and valuable.

      • Maintain family routines. 'Routine' gives a sense of security to middle schoolers and will remind them that they are loved. When they get home after a hard day of dealing with so many changes, they will know that their parents are on their side.