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Helping Your Child Adjust to Middle School

By Deb McLeod

Middle school is a different experience for most children. Middle school can be strange, scary or dangerous. It can also be fun, exciting and a time of growth and solid change for your child.

Helping your child decide which experience he's going to have is a big part of helping him make that full adjustment from being an elementary school student into being a middle school student.

Learning how to help your child adjust to middle school, then, requires a bit of schooling for you, too. The experience he has in middle school can set the tone for the kind of high school experience he has. Want him to get good grades, be active and have good friends? Now is the time to work on those things.

A couple of months after school starts sit down with your child and talk. Ask him about the various concerns he had before school started. Maybe there was a bit of stress over the idea of having to change into PE clothes in front of other kids, or your child was afraid she wouldn't remember her locker combination. Then find out how things are going now.

We often chide our kids for not talking to us, but it's also often true that we don't ask them questions. Ask a few questions and your child might open up and start gabbing.

Here are some tips for how to ask questions:

Ask questions without any judgment. That is, instead of saying, "Why are you doing so poorly in math?" which might make him clam up, instead ask, "Anything I can do help you with math?"

Ask questions that are open ended, rather than hint at what you already know. For example, don't say, "Did you ask Rita to the dance?" but instead say, "How's the girl situation? Anyone interesting?"

Ask questions that humanize the experience. You were once in middle school and you might remember well some of the inherent challenges in being a middle schooler. You might say, "I remember how nervous I was about PE those first few weeks of school. I hated dressing in front of everyone, but it ended up being no big deal. How's that going for you?"

Now, in order to really help your middle school child achieve some comfort at school, you need to stay focused on what's really important. Not to you, but to her. That is, don't hyper focus on grades and forget what kids are really thinking about - friends and the opposite sex.

Most kids will excel in some areas but need help in others. You probably already know which areas are easy for your child and which are a bit tougher, but make sure you continue to stay vigilant and understand how your child is changing and growing.

Let's break this down further. Grades are important; we are certainly not arguing you should only focus on your child's social life. That would be negligent. But think about where your child needs help. If your child generally gets good grades, but has few friends, think about how to help him expand that social circle. Conversely, if your child focuses so much on the social aspects of middle school that it leaves her grades wanting, focus on getting her some tutoring, or making rules at home that require homework before play.

Helping your child adjust to middle school is an important part of your life as the parent of a child in middle school. That adjustment might not take place immediately but be an ongoing process. Make sure you understand the process and help your child through it.

Categories: School-Age, Tweens, Children,

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New FeatureRelated Articles: Helping Kids Cope With Cliques, How To Survive Middle School Math,

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