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It’s a brand-new year and your child is in a brand-new school. Making the move from elementary to middle school is a big deal in a typical year, but in 2020, the world as we know it is different and most students are making this transition without the usual activities and support that elementary schools offer in the springtime to help students get ready.
Ajith Varghese of the Georgetown Huntington Learning Center urges parents to stay involved and engaged in their children’s first year of middle school. “This year in particular might bring about some new challenges for new middle school students, and parents should be mindful of the signs of learning loss due to COVID-19 closures as well as other more typical transition issues,” he says.
Mr. Varghese offers parents these suggestions on how to help their new middle schoolers ease into the new year successfully:
1. Set up good work routines. Middle school brings a greater workload and more to keep track of, so your child needs to be able to stay organized and on task when doing remote school and homework. Encourage your child to adopt a good routine that includes a planner to keep track of assignments and due dates, nightly reviewing of all to-dos, and daily tidying of the home desk or workspace.
2. Fine-tune the organizational system. If your child wasn’t that organized in elementary school, it’s time to get serious in middle school. Help your child develop good planner techniques (and rest assured that middle school teachers will do the same) and keep an eye on how he or she keeps track of papers and assignments in the binder and backpack. Step in if you notice your child misplacing assignments regularly.
3. Show your child how to prioritize. One of the biggest challenges new middle school students face, especially those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is learning how to prioritize. Help your child get the hang of this by sitting together before homework time and going over:
What homework your child has been assigned
When each subject’s homework is due (e.g. tomorrow vs. later in the week vs. next week)
How each homework item ranks in terms of 1) estimated time to complete and 2) difficulty
This will help your child get accustomed to prioritizing work and developing a plan each day before diving in.
4. Talk about bullying. Middle school brings children together during a big time of change and unfortunately, bullying does happen. Discuss with your child what bullying is (continuous harassment and humiliation) and is not (a one-off insult or someone getting left out of an invitation), how to be an upstander, and how to deal with being bullied or seeing others being bullied. Your child’s school can be a valuable source of information on bullying and can be a helpful guide for your child should he or she need additional support.
5. Put your child in charge. You might be nervous about how your child will handle middle school, but repeat this to yourself: school is your child’s job, not yours. These next three years are critical in your child’s academic development, because by high school, your child will be expected to be self-sufficient. Encourage your child to take ownership of his or her school work. Be on hand for help, of course, but let your child sit in the driver’s seat.
“Middle school is full of change for parents and students,” says Mr. Varghese. “Your role now is to help your child grow into an independent, responsible student. Help him or her establish good routines and get organized and remind your child to reach out to you or teachers to self-advocate when difficulties arise.”
For help supporting your child during middle school, call (512) 886 0101 or visit https://huntingtonhelps.com/center/georgetown-tx for more information.