5 Tactics to Encourage Academic Confidence in Your Middle Schooler

The middle school years can be full of challenges for students. With a plethora of new academic and personal responsibilities, it can become difficult for students to remain confident in their ability to succeed. To promote academic confidence in your child, encourage your middle schooler to set manageable goals and to create a schedule so that they can feel in charge of their education.

Looking to offer your student extra support this semester? Keep reading to learn five tactics to encourage academic confidence in your middle schooler. 

1. Encourage academic confidence in your middle schooler by noting effort, not just correct answers

One beneficial technique is to acknowledge the effort your student puts forth in their education. For example, if you’re working on a difficult homework problem with your child, offer positive reinforcement throughout the process. Focus your comments specifically on your child’s attempts, questions, and engagement with the material. Avoid only offering praise when your child arrives at the right answer because this can teach students to value correct answers only, rather than the learning process as a whole. 

[RELATED: How Parents Can Help Students Set—and Achieve—Academic Goals]

2. Encourage academic confidence in your middle schooler by promoting journaling

To develop your child’s confidence, encourage them to keep a journal. This can help them articulate their academic strengths and reflect on themselves as learners. The journal can be as creative and open as your child wishes. Options for journal prompts can include: 

  • A gratitude list, focused on anything school- or academic-related

  • A list of accomplishments, both big and small

  • A reflection on what your child did to help themselves reach a goal, including resources they used, steps they took to success, and ways that they revised or revisited previous strategies

[RELATED: 3 Ways Students Can Benefit from Journaling

3. Encourage academic confidence in your middle schooler by making connections to extracurricular interests and real-life scenarios

Extracurricular interests can also act as motivators for students. Identify your student’s interests, and research ways these interests can benefit them academically. If your child is interested in comics, for example, encourage them to create comic books and graphic novels. If your child likes skateboarding, encourage them to read about it, learn about its history, and start a related DIY project that develops STEM skills. 

Another great strategy to develop your child’s confidence is to find real-world connections—whether that’s helping your child imagine how they might use the skills in the future, finding a place to volunteer in your community that’s related to one of their favorite subjects, or attending an event in the community. 

4. Encourage academic confidence in your middle schooler by setting manageable goals 

Middle schoolers often haven’t yet developed the habit of breaking down large tasks into smaller ones. Discuss with your child how beneficial creating lists of goals can be in promoting success. Work together on how to break down a big project, encouraging them to return to and revise tasks, as well as being sure to celebrate completed goals. 

5. Encourage academic confidence in your middle schooler by establishing a schedule

Advise your child on how to make a schedule of responsibilities. This can be a project-based schedule, where your child assigns a task to each day or week. Alternately, it can simply be a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule that incorporates time spent on academics, social, and extracurricular activities. The schedule is not meant to feel strict—rather, encourage your child to revise their schedule if something comes up or if they find that something else works better for them. 

[RELATED: 4 Questions to Ask Your Child About School

The main thing about encouraging academic confidence is to give your middle schooler some helpful, concrete strategies that they can apply to their own lives, and to encourage them to learn what works best for them. Doing this will help develop your middle schooler’s agency over their own learning and boost their academic confidence.

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