4 Ways Parents Can Help Middle School Students Succeed

The middle school years are an exciting time when students experience transition, both academically and socially. Not only will your middle school student attend a new school building, he or she will also face new teachers, policies, classes, and extracurricular opportunities. Thus, you may be asking yourself how to prepare your child for the middle school transition.

Parents can help middle school students succeed in a variety of ways, including helping them understand their schedule, creating an organizational system, and encouraging time management and problem-solving skills.

1. Help your middle school student succeed by exploring their schedule and the building

Middle school is likely the first time your child will have a different teacher for each subject, which means moving classrooms for each class period. At the beginning of the school year, have your child make several copies of his or her class schedule and put them in convenient places, such as his or her:

  • backpack

  • binder

  • folder

  • agenda book

Visiting the school before the year officially starts is also great idea to help ensure your child will be familiar with the layout and potential routes from one class to another. Schools usually offer an open house, often in August or some other time in the summer, for students to come meet teachers and check out the building—take advantage of it!  

[RELATED: What to Ask at Middle School Parent-Teacher Conferences]

2.  Help your middle school student succeed by getting organized

At the beginning of and throughout the year, help your child figure out an organizational system that works best for him or her. While your child mostly stayed in one classroom the entire day in elementary school, he or she will now make use of lockers and different folders and binders. Consider strategies like color-coding folders and book covers for the same subject and organizing lockers so that morning class materials go in one spot and afternoon materials go in another.

Encourage your child to keep an up-to-date agenda book or planner. He or she might want to use a calendar at home, digital or physical. Does your child want to use several different folders or keep papers in one or two binders? Brainstorming with your child and checking in throughout the year can be very helpful; this helps you identify what’s working well and what isn’t. Don’t be afraid to make changes as needed.

3. Help your middle school student succeed by teaching time management

In middle school, there starts to be less hand-holding from teachers in terms of assignments. Students will need to pace themselves for large projects. Support your child in this by breaking these projects down into manageable parts; this could mean allocating time every day or week to work on the project, or picking smaller milestones to reach at specific intervals. Encourage your child to make his or her own weekly schedule, taking into account extracurricular activities in addition to small and big projects. Getting started with time management skills at this age will serve your child well into high school and college.

4. Help your middle school student succeed by encouraging independent problem-solving skills

When your child encounters difficulty on homework or a larger project, talk through the issue instead of simply providing answers. Try asking questions like: What have you tried that hasn’t worked? What has worked for you in the past? What information do you need, and where could you find it? Questions like these promote reflection and problem solving, which will in turn can help students become independent learners. Point your student to helpful resources, whether in the textbook (through the index or table of contents), on the Internet, a study buddy, or meeting with the teacher or a guidance counselor.

[RELATED: 4 Ways to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills]

In addition to these strategies, keep an eye toward high school and college. How will these classes help prepare your student for high school? Which extracurriculars are good for developing leadership skills, friendships, and professional experience? What standardized tests will your student need to take? Having your child reflect on current experiences and widening his or her scope to include high school will help build a strong foundation for later years.  

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