Middle School!!! These two words loom over my household as the first day of school quickly approaches. I will be a mother of a middle schooler and what makes this so difficult for her father and I are all the unknowns. I attended a K-8 grade school, which makes this new adventure even more of a mystery for me. Talking to other parents, students, and teachers has not only calmed my nerves but has helped me envision what is to come. Below is a list of tips and words of wisdom from parents and teachers. My biggest take way from all these discussions is to STAY CALM, do not project your own anxieties on your child because in the long run they are going to be just fine!
1 – Preparation is Key
“Definitely attend the orientation with your child and let them walk through their schedule as many times as they want. I even took a few pictures of hallways/classrooms so we could review them before the first day of school. I also bought a cheap lock so my son could learn how to open a lock. Even though the combination was different from his school locker, he needed to get the feel of it. While some may disagree, I’d say save your money and skip the locker organizers. They aren’t necessary and sometimes actually limit options.” ~ Claire Clark, Middle Schooler Parent
“Practice using a combination lock to be sure they know how to use one. Also, make sure you go to orientation with them and take all the time you need to go through their schedule so they feel comfortable going from their locker to their next class. Make sure they have what they need to be prepared to go to class.” ~ Angela Shotwell, Middle School Parent
“First, visit your school the week before it starts with your middle schooler to meet the teachers, see your child’s rooms and lockers. Second, set your kid up with folders for each class. This keeps managing work simple. Unless your kid is super organized already, try to avoid trapper keepers; they are black holes of organization.” ~ Middle School Teacher
2 – Stay Calm & Positive
“My words of wisdom is to be positive and open to your child going to Middle school. If you (the parent) show signs of anxiety then your child will pick up on that. I’ll admit that I was scared for my child to go last year and she wasn’t scared at all and the school year went great! She adjusted well and loved going. She really enjoyed going from class to class instead of being stuck in one classroom all year long. She also loved all of the lunch choices.” ~ Angela Shotwell, Parent of a Middle Schooler
“I think it was harder on me than it was on my child to start middle school. He was excited and didn’t miss a beat heading off to Western. I didn’t grow up in Bay City and the day we went to find his classes, I kept asking for directions to classes. My advice would be to try not to stress, it’s harder on the parents than the students and they are young and quick to figure out a new, big school. This is an exciting time for them and as hard as it is, they are growing up and ready to take on more on their own with changing classes, a larger school, etc.” ~ Bethany Dutcher, Parent of a Middle Schooler
3 – Encourage Your Child To Get Involved
“Encourage them to do after school activities, this allows for them to try new things and meet new friends.” ~ Angela Shotwell, Parent of a Middle Schooler
4 – Let Your Child Take the Lead & Be Themselves
“There is such a vast difference between kids when it comes to emotional and physical development in middle school. Your children will not mature any faster than they are ready to and it is good to just meet them where they are at and don’t compare. Just make sure they are happy being them.” ~ Parent of a Middle Schooler
5 – Keep In Touch
“Check the wiki or online grade program often to see what has been happening and to check your student’s progress.” ~ Middle School Teacher
“Make sure you ask how their day was and you may have to pry to get answers but I believe this is important just so you know he/she is doing fine.” ~ Angela Shotwell
Are you looking for more advice? Do you have a few words of wisdom? Join the conversation on the Great Lakes Bay Parents’ Facebook page.
Thank you to all the parents and teachers who contributed to this article!
Do you have a kindergartener? You maybe interested in Ask the Parents – First Day of Kindergarten Jitters