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Parenting Skills - Junior High

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Parenting Skills from the Parent Institute

Middle School ~ January

http://www.parent-institute.com/nl/deliver.php?issueID=midjan15&itemID=112377

 

Middle School ~ December

http://www.parent-institute.com/nl/deliver.php?issueID=middec14&itemID=111723

 

Middle School ~ November

http://www.parent-institute.com/nl/deliver.php?issueID=midnov14&itemID=111069

 

Middle School ~ October

http://www.parent-institute.com/NL/deliver.php?issueID=midoct14&itemID=110415

 

Middle School ~ September

http://www.parent-institute.com/NL/deliver.php?issueID=midsep14&itemID=109759

 

Middle School ~ May

 Positive discipline can create a positive change in behavior

 By middle school, your child will have learned to tune out negative discipline, such as yelling. And you have probably realized that it doesn't work anyway.

 

This summer, when you may see more of your child, use positive discipline whenever possible. In return, you may see a positive change in your child by summer's end. Here's how to get started:

 

  • Be generally pleasant to your child, even if she is not! Smile. Show affection with a hug or pat on her shoulder.
  • Notice what your child does right and compliment her.
  • Thank your child when she does something for you or the family. Say please when you ask her to do something.
  • Trust your child. If your child has been generally trustworthy, give her the benefit of the doubt. Believe what she says. Give her a new freedom if she has shown responsibility.
  • Ask your middle schooler to teach you something new. There are probably things she knows how to do better than you do--especially when it comes to technology.

 

Reprinted with permission from the May 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: J. Thompson,Discipline Survival Kit for the Secondary Teacher, Jossey-Bass.

 

 

Don't forget to maintain healthy habits over the summer months

 Experts agree that there is a direct link between student health and academic achievement. And the end of the school year shouldn't signal the end of your middle schooler's healthful habits! Over the summer, be sure to:

 

  • Maintain routines. Don't throw your child's bedtime--or alarm clock--out the window just because it's vacation. Instead, remain on some sort of regular schedule, even if the actual bedtime (or waking time) is a bit later.
  • Encourage your child to move. Summer break isn't for sitting around, so get your child moving! Help your child find an enjoyable activity such as jogging, biking, skateboarding, etc.--and encourage it often. Better yet, get the whole family involved. Exercise benefits everyone.
  • Eat dinner together. Your child may be lured outdoors by longer, warmer days, but make sure your family comes together for dinner. Eating together is a terrific way to stay connected.
  • Be a good role model. Your child takes "healthful habits" cues from what you do--not what you say. So don't simply tell your child how to do positive things for health. Do them for yourself, too!

 

Reprinted with permission from the May 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "Top 10 Ways to Help Children Develop Healthy Habits," American Heart Association, http://tinyurl.com/7pvrcgg.

 

 

Make school attendance a high priority for your middle schooler

 Having a fever is a reason to keep your child home from school. Having "spring fever," however, is not. Yes, the weather is turning warmer in many places. Yes, the days are longer. But school is still in session and your child needs to be there.

 

As tempting as it may be to let your child "take a break" after staying up too late, or because it's a beautiful day outside, don't give in.

 

Here are three reasons why:

 

  1. End-of-year exams. In the next few weeks, many students will take exams. Class review for these is important for your child's success. And it's going on now.
  2. Regular schoolwork. Even in the midst of review, teachers are still assigning projects and homework. Missing school at this busy time can cause your child to fall behind--and leave him with little time to catch up before the school year ends.
  3. Priorities. Your child's education should be at the top of your list of priorities. Allowing your child to miss school (except for illnesses, emergencies or religious observances) sends the message that school is only important some of the time.

 

Talk to your child and let him know that school is his most important job at this time in his life. Expect him to be there every day.

 

Reprinted with permission from the May 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: H. Arthur, "Every Day Counts: School Attendance Strategies," Communicator, National Association of Elementary School Principals.

 

 

Encourage activities that promote summer learning

 Middle schoolers can find themselves with too much time on their hands during the summer break. That can lead to boredom, and the chance to get into trouble.

 

Here are some ideas to keep your child busy and learning this summer:

 

  • Be a tourist in your town. Ask your child to research interesting places to visit where you live. Is there an old factory, historical landmark or museum nearby? Make plans to go.
  • Consider whether your child is ready to earn some money outside the home. If he is, pet care, babysitting or helping a neighbor with yard work can be good ways to earn spending money and learn responsibility.
  • Start a book club. Let your child pick a book. Read it together and set a date to talk about it. Suggest that he invite some of his friends.
  • Give your child a research project. Do you need the best price and model of a small appliance? Are you trying to decide where to go on a weekend trip? Ask your child to do research on the Internet or at the library.
  • Help your child learn to cook. Give him the responsibility of preparing a simple family meal at least once a week. Frozen dinners don't count!

 

Reprinted with permission from the May 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

 

Middle School ~ April

 Improve your child's writing with this teacher's checklist

 

It's hard to help middle schoolers with their writing assignments. By nature, adolescents can be very sensitive to criticism and suggestions for improvement.

 

For healthy progress in writing ability to occur, kids need to feel secure and confident about their writing. So when your child asks you to review a writing assignment, first focus on what you like. A catchy title. The introduction. Clear descriptions. Your favorite sentences.

 

Then give your child an editing checklist so he can have a chance to improve his own writing without feeling criticized. Share this teacher-created checklist with your child:

 

  • I've read through the entire piece to see if it makes sense.
  • I've focused my writing on one important topic or idea.
  • The title is catchy. It fits the piece.
  • The introduction captures the reader's interest.
  • My writing flows logically from one concept to another.
  • I replaced vague words with specific ones.
  • I deleted unneeded words by combining short sentences.
  • I shortened sentences that were too long and wordy.
  • I deleted or replaced overused words.
  • I indented new paragraphs.
  • I checked spelling, punctuation and capitalization.

 

Reprinted with permission from the April 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: J. Novelli, "Writing Workshop: Telling Our Own Stories," Instructor, Scholastic, Inc.

 

 

Be absolute when speaking to your child about alcohol & drugs

 Now that your child is getting older, there are many topics--curfew, free time, chores--that are open to negotiation with your child. Some things, however, are still non-negotiable. They include alcohol and drug use. It is your job as a parent to present them as such.

 

Follow these tips:

 

  • Be explicit, but give reasons. "Underage drinking is against the law and unacceptable. So is illegal drug use. Both are very harmful to your health. We will never allow them."
  • Do not expect your child to experiment with drugs or alcohol. Yes, many young people do. But plenty of others do not! This is not a "rite of passage." One experiment can harm your child. Be sure she knows you expect she will not take the risk. Do not say, "Be careful." Say, "Do not do it."
  • Do not approve of "friends" who drink or use drugs. You can't control who your child spends time with at school. But if you know a peer drinks or uses drugs, you can tell your child that she is not allowed to socialize with this peer outside of school. If your child does anyway, she will be disobeying you, and consequences should follow. Again, the reason is her health--research shows that children who hang around users are more likely to use.

 

Reprinted with permission from the April 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: P. Coleman and R. Heyman, The Big Book of How to Say It KIDS, Prentice Hall Press.

 

 

Don't fall into the trap of being your middle schooler's ‘friend'

Your child is growing up before your eyes. He may look more like a young adult and less like a young child. He can understand concepts that escaped him a year ago.

 

Remember that he is still your child and not your peer. He needs you to be the parent and he still needs to respect you and other adults. Follow this advice:

 

  • Insist that your child speak politely to you and other adults. Don't allow your child to talk to you when she is being rude. Walk away and do not grant her wishes until she speaks respectfully.
  • Require your child to follow your rules. Middle schoolers shouldn't have a huge list of rules, but a few important ones that must be followed. Consider withholding privileges if your child willfully breaks rules.
  • Do not try to be the "cool parent" in the neighborhood. You should be kind and caring to your child and her friends, but you are not "one of the girls/boys." Children lose respect for parents who act like children.
  • Do not make decisions based on what would please your child and her friends. They might like if you paid for them all to see an R-rated movie, but is it a wise parenting choice? Trust yourself as the adult and make decisions accordingly.

 

Reprinted with permission from the April 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: C. Giannetti and M. Sagarese, The Roller-Coaster Years: Raising Your Child Through the Maddening Yet Magical Middle School Years, Broadway Books.

 

 

Don't let your middle schooler develop ‘learned helplessness'

 A student who has had several failures in a row is at risk of refusing to try a new or challenging task. This is called learned helplessness--in which a child's first decision is to avoid a task because he believes it will be impossible for him.

 

To help your child guard against learned helplessness, have him:

 

  • Focus on being positive. If he believes he can be successful and decides to give a task or assignment his best effort, he is more likely to have success.
  • Try easier work first. Students are often told to do harder work first, to get it out of the way. But some kids gain self-confidence by finishing an easy task.
  • Find which way he learns best. Does he need to move around? Does making pictures or graphs help him understand material better? Does his comprehension improve if he records himself reading and plays it back?

 

Be sure to watch what you say to your child, too. Sarcasm and labels such as lazy don't motivate your child--they hurt him.

 

Reprinted with permission from the April 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

 

Middle School ~ March

 

Routine is the backbone of blossoming independence

 Most middle schoolers think independence means getting to stay up late. But parents know that independence means taking responsibility for yourself and your actions. And when students develop a sense of independence and responsibility, they tend to do better in school.

 

Establishing routines is one way to develop responsibility. Routines let your child know what she's supposed to do and when to do it.

 

Here are a few other things you can do to foster responsibility:

 

  • Don't do for your child things she can do for herself.
  • Set reasonable limits and be clear about your expectations.
  • Show your child how to do age-appropriate tasks, like laundry and making her own school lunch.
  • Don't insist your child do a task exactly as you do it. And don't redo a task after she has done it.
  • Be responsible yourself. Be a role model of positive habits and self-discipline.
  • Allow your child to make some decisions, even when they're not the choices you would make.
  • Don't bail your child out. Let her experience the consequences of her decisions.
  • Become a sounding board. Listen to your child's uncertainties as she tries to make decisions. Don't simply criticize.

 

Reprinted with permission from the March 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

 

Never miss a chance to reinforce learning outside the classroom

Your child's education doesn't just happen at school. It happens everywhere! To reinforce his learning:

 

  • Have him teach you a thing or two. Find out what your child is studying at school, and ask him to explain it to you. By "retelling" the things he's learning, he reinforces those things in his own mind.
  • Put his knowledge into action. If your child just finished tackling fractions in math, have him join you in the kitchen. Show him the real-life importance of what he's learned. "This recipe calls for half a cup of milk, but we only have a 1/3-cup measurer. How can we figure out the right amount?"
  • Expose him to new things. Every meaningful experience your child has--from a zoo visit to a museum trip--has an impact on his learning. On your next outing, ask him how what he is seeing relates to what he is learning in school.
  • Respect his ability. Let your child use his knowledge and skills to help you. The next time you make a wrong turn somewhere, hand him a map and see if he can figure out a solution.

 

Reprinted with permission from the March 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

 

Organization is the key to success for middle schoolers

 Organization is critical in middle school. Your child may have six or more teachers assigning homework on top of after-school activities and a busy social life. Organization can make the difference between doing well and sinking.

 

To help your middle schooler get organized:

 

  • Have a weekly planning meeting. Sitting down with your child for 15 minutes each Sunday night to plan the week ahead can make the next six days go more smoothly. Bring your family calendar to the meeting and be sure to write down important deadlines and events.
  • Have your child wear a watch and refer to it often.
  • Be sure your child is using a daily planner to keep track of homework and activities. Have her check it every day to see which books to bring home.
  • Have your child make checklists of tasks to complete when she starts her homework each evening. Also have her make a checklist of the steps she needs to complete for long-range projects.
  • Choose places to put specific belongings--especially those that get misplaced frequently. For example, schoolbooks and other materials for school the next day might be kept in a box by the front door.
  • Encourage your child to put things away in their designated spot. Set an example by doing this with other household items. Have a place for your keys, mail, dirty laundry, cleaning supplies, etc.

 

Reprinted with permission from the March 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

 

Studies show too much TV can lead to learning issues

 As the parent of a middle schooler, you should be aware that too much TV may harm your child. Researchers agree that kids should watch no more than two hours of television a day.

 

Here are specifics from a study published in a medical journal about child and teen health. The doctors who published the study researched a group of teens for many years. The study began when the teens were 14 and ended when they were adults in their mid-30s.

 

The doctors found that:

 

  • Teens who watched TV for three hours or more each day were more likely to develop learning and attention problems.
  • Teen problems included not doing homework, not liking school, being bored in school and getting poor grades.
  • Video games have an effect similar to TV.
  • Some teens dropped out of high school. Others finished but did not go on to other education. This was not true of every teen in the study.
  • It didn't matter whether the teens grew up in rich, poor or middle-class families. Watching a lot of TV put teens from all of these types of families at risk for learning and attention problems.

 

Reprinted with permission from the March 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: J. Johnson, Ph.D. and others, "Extensive Television Viewing and the Development of Attention and Learning Difficulties During Adolescence," Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=570369.

 

 

Middle School ~ February

Four steps to reducing your middle schooler's test anxiety

Does your middle schooler's stomach do flip-flops the night before a huge test? Does yours? Relax! Although you can't take the test for your child, there are lots of ways you can help him get ready for the big exam.

To help your child prepare:

  1. Chat with him. Ask your middle schooler why he's so nervous about the test. Is the material too hard? Does he not understand it? Sometimes just getting his concerns off his chest can make the test less scary.
  2. Help him make a study schedule. If the test is next week, encourage him to set aside study time on each of the days leading up to it. This may keep him from cramming the night before.
  3. Create a comfy study spot. Carve out a quiet, well-lit place at home where your middle schooler can study. Make sure he has all the supplies he needs--including a healthy snack--when he sits down to hit the books.
  4. Remind him of his strengths. "I know you're worried about the big history exam, but remember how well you did on the last one?" Focus on the positives.

Later, when your child receives his test grade, talk about it. If he did well, celebrate his success. If he didn't, calmly go over what went wrong and talk about how he can improve next time.

Reprinted with permission from the February 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "Helping Your Child with Test-Taking: Helping Your Child Succeed in School," U.S. Department of Education, www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/succeed/part9.html.

 

Show your child how to take and use class notes

Taking notes is an important skill for middle schoolers. It is a skill your child will use even more once she reaches high school.

Share these note-taking tips with your child:

  • Don't write down every word. Encourage your child to come up with her own method of shortening words, using symbols for key words and highlighting words the teacher seems to emphasize. For example, she could use the dollar sign instead of the word money.
  • Edit notes after class. While the information is still fresh in your child's mind, she should read over her notes and expand on them where necessary. If she is unsure of something she wrote down, encourage her to ask the teacher for more clarification.
  • Study notes. Studying her notes will help your child gain a true understanding of the material so she is prepared for the next class or test.

Reprinted with permission from the February 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: J. Ban, Parents Assuring Student Success, National Educational Service.

 

Do you know what your child does after school?

There are plenty of opportunities for middle schoolers to get into trouble after school--especially if their parents aren't home. Answer yes or no to the questions below to find out how well you are monitoring your child's after-school time:

___1. Do you make sure your child contacts an adult after school, such as a parent, neighbor or sitter?

___2. Do you keep in touch by phone when your child is out of school and you are not there?

___3. Do you encourage your child to be involved in supervised extra-curricular activities after school?

___ 4. Do you have rules about who may be in the house when you are not there?

___5. Have you and your child discussed the dangers that kids can get into after school (such as alcohol, illegal drugs) and how to avoid them?

How well are you doing?

Mostly yes answers mean you are working hard to keep your child safe and productive after school. For no answers, try those suggestions.

Reprinted with permission from the February 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

Remind your child that there is no such thing as online privacy

Use of social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram is on the rise. Middle and high school students have signed up in droves to share their thoughts, messages, photos and even videos on such sites.

To help your middle schooler make the best choices while on social networking sites, it's important to monitor what he posts. In addition:

  • Remind your child that nothing can ever be completely removed from the Internet. He should think carefully before posting anything that would damage his reputation or someone else's friendships.
  • Talk to your child about his online "friends." The accounts your child creates can only be viewed or followed by people he allows. One rule to set for your child: Only allow people you actually know to view your posts.
  • Talk about values. Remind your child that if he wouldn't do something in real life, he should avoid doing it online.
  • Stress safety. Your child should never post information that would allow someone to locate him in real life. He should also never arrange to meet anyone he has only met online.

Reprinted with permission from the February 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2014 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

 

Middle School ~ January

Help your child get back into the swing of homework

January can be a difficult month. Your child must head back to school after the winter break, but without the excitement of the beginning of the school year. Getting back to homework routines is often most difficult of all.

To help your middle schooler get back on track:

  • Reestablish the time and place she does her homework.
  • Restock supplies such as pencils, pens and paper.
  • Check her homework planner so you are aware of her assignments. Look them over when she finishes.
  • Reestablish the place where she will put completed homework to make sure it gets back to school.

If you find that your child is having trouble finishing her work:

  • Make a rule: No social time (including TV, computer or cell phone) until homework is finished. Stick to it.
  • Help your child set a schedule. For example: Complete math, 10-minute break, complete social studies, 10-minute break. Separating tasks may help her feel less overwhelmed.

If your child always "finishes" homework, but doesn't do a thorough job:

  • Emphasize the importance of doing her best.
  • Check over homework each night.
  • Ask her to explain the homework to you, so you can see if she truly did what she was assigned to do.

Reprinted with permission from the January 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: S. Zentall and S Goldstein, Seven Steps to Homework Success: A Family Guide for Solving Common Homework Problems, Specialty Press, Inc.

 

It's time to take control of your middle schooler's screen time!

Most middle schoolers spend lots of time looking at a screen. Whether it's on a smartphone, a tablet, a computer or the television, experts agree: Kids should spend no more than two hours each day in front of a screen.

To keep your middle schooler's screen time under control:

  • Calculate the time he spends "plugged in." Do you really know how long your child spends on social media each night? Are you sure he only watches "a few TV shows" each evening?
  • Talk to him. Tell him why you're concerned about his screen time. "I know you love watching TV, but we're all doing too much of it. Let's figure out healthier ways to relax and have fun."
  • Set limits. If it's too challenging for your child to limit his own screen time, do it for him. "Okay, it's time for a rule change. From now on, nobody--including me--gets more than two hours of screen time each day."
  • Banish bedroom TVs. Studies show that kids with televisions in their bedrooms watch 90 more minutes of TV each day than kids without their own sets.
  • Offer alternatives. Go biking together. Play cards. Learn a new craft. Show your child that there are plenty of ways to have fun and engage his brain without sitting in front of a TV or computer screen.

Reprinted with permission from the January 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

Books aren't the only option for reading

Is your child a reader? Some kids don't read many novels, but that doesn't mean they are not readers. Be careful not to label your middle schooler a nonreader--if you say it, your child is likely to believe it.

Nearly every kind of reading has value that you may not have considered. Recognize it. Encourage it. Praise your child for reading. If your child reads:

  • Magazines--she has learned the value of reading for pleasure and interest. As long as the material is age-appropriate, this is a constructive activity for your child.
  • Sports scores--she has learned to read for information. And she has learned that the Internet and newspapers are valuable resources. Ask her questions that require her to do a bit of research.
  • Nonfiction books--she is building fluency, comprehension and vocabulary skills. Consider giving her a biography of a person she admires.
  • Instruction manuals--she has learned that reading can teach her a practical skill. Look for longer books about skills she wants to learn.
  • Text messages--she has learned to use reading and writing to communicate. But if that's all she reads--and it is affecting grades and other activities--it's time to set limits on her texting!

Reprinted with permission from the January 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: D. Booth,Reading Doesn't Matter Anymore, Stenhouse Publishers.

 

Enjoy the benefits of reading aloud with your middle schooler

You may think that reading aloud is something you could do only when your child was younger. Not true. At this age, your child will be able to carry on conversations about the reading and can pay better attention to what he's listening to.

Here are some tips for reading aloud to your middle schooler:

  • Share your thoughts. Get a conversation started. Ask your child a question about the reading to get him thinking. "I was surprised the main character did that. What do you think?"
  • Mix it up. Don't jump right into a chapter book or series. Read something short, light and entertaining, and then switch to something that your child can ponder.
  • Think about the future. Middle schoolers are beginning to think about college and the types of careers they may want to have. Read books and articles that introduce your child to a wide range of experiences and opportunities.

Reprinted with permission from the January 2014 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "Tips for Reading Aloud with Preteens and Teens," Reading is Fundamental, www.rif.org/kids/leer/en/barrio/leeradolescentes_english.htm.

 

 

Middle School ~ December

Every minute counts when it comes to your child's attendance

Attendance at school is more than just showing up. It's being there on time and being productive throughout the entire day.

Being late to school will cause real problems for your child. She may face disciplinary action if she racks up too many "tardies." Being late shows a lack of respect. Late students also disrupt the flow of the class, even if they come in quietly.

Your child will miss valuable instruction or work time if she arrives late. The first few minutes of class are important and can set the tone for being successful or unsuccessful that day.

Encourage your child to get to classes on time so she has time to:

  • Prepare for class by getting out the necessary materials.
  • Review yesterday's work.
  • Take a first glance at the material the teacher will be teaching.
  • Think about any questions she needs to ask.

Reprinted with permission from the December 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: J. Thompson,Discipline: Survival Kit for the Secondary Teacher, Jossey-Bass.

 

Understand the important role of the school guidance counselor

When you were in middle school, you may have never met a guidance counselor. A generation ago, counselors often worked only in high schools. Their job was to help students choose courses and plan for after graduation.

Guidance counselors still do those things in high schools. But now they do much, much more. And they have also become a key part of the educational team in middle schools.

Your child's counselor strives to help all students be productive learners. Middle school guidance counselors can offer your child help with:

  • Academics and study skills, including organization.
  • Solving problems with friends. This can include mediation.
  • Making decisions.
  • Coping skills. This includes skills for coping with bullies.
  • Setting goals.
  • Making plans for high school and beyond.
  • Counseling sessions either for just your child or in a small group. This can include grief counseling.
  • Organizing support if your child or your family is facing a crisis.
  • Making referrals to other professionals.

Reprinted with permission from the December 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "Why Middle School Counselors," American School Counselor Association, www.schoolcounselor.org/content.asp?contentid=231.

 

Show your child that you value & expect honesty

Being honest is the foundation of good character. It is also vital for your child's academic success.

Your middle schooler won't learn Algebra if he simply copies his friend's answers. And he won't become a better writer if he has a friend write his English paper.

Practice honesty with your child and stress its importance. When your child asks why he should be honest, offer these reasons:

  • Honest people have self-respect. They know who they are and they never have to worry about being "caught" in a lie.
  • Honest people are respected by others. Family members, teachers and friends will respect him because they know they can count on him.
  • "Honesty is the best policy" is more than a saying. Being honest will keep your middle schooler out of trouble.
  • Honesty encourages another good quality--responsibility. Honest people take responsibility for their mistakes and try to fix them.
  • Honesty will earn your child more freedom. When you know you can trust your child, you won't feel the need to always look over his shoulder. You are more likely to grant him additional privileges. Teachers also tend to give more freedom to students they trust.

Reprinted with permission from the December 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: B. Lewis,Being Your Best: Character Building for Kids 7-10, Free Spirit Publishing.

 

Build your child's math skills with estimation challenges

Math is a subject that typically depends on precise answers. But the first step to arriving at those answers is often to look the problem over and make an "educated guess" or an estimation.

Give your middle schooler frequent opportunities to estimate. You can do this by using examples in daily life, or by asking questions that allow him to estimate the answer.

Encourage him to check his guess by working the problem through, or by comparing a "real-life" answer to his guess.

Here are some examples of estimation challenges you can give your child over the winter break:

  • "How many people are sitting in the first three rows of the movie theater?"
  • "That's a pretty thick book. How much time do you think it will take you to read it?"
  • "If Dad drinks two cups of coffee a day, and each container of coffee makes 50 cups, how many containers of coffee would we have to buy in a year?" (Answer: 15)
  • "We're going 30 miles an hour. Grandma lives five miles away. How long will it take us to get to her house?" (Answer: 10 minutes)
  • "If you get $20 every time you shovel a driveway, how many driveways would you have to shovel to earn $10,000?" (Answer: 500)

Reprinted with permission from the December 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: V. Thompson and K. Mayfield-Ingram, Family Math–The Middle School Years, University of California at Berkeley.

 

 

Middle School ~ November

Establish specific, reasonable expectations for your child

It's important to set expectations for your middle schooler. It's just as critical, though, to be clear and reasonable about those expectations. So instead of telling her to "calm down," for instance, try being more specific: "I expect you to speak respectfully to me, even when you are upset with me."

Here are examples of how to be specific when setting expectations for your middle schooler. Expect your child to:

  • Limit social media. "You can check Instagram and text your friends for up to an hour each night. But there is no more social media or texting after 9 p.m."
  • Put schoolwork first. "You're free to watch TV, play video games or chat with your friends after you've finished all of your homework, not before."
  • Keep you posted about her plans. "If there's someplace you want to go, let me know ahead of time. Try not to spring things on me at the last minute."
  • Participate in family events. Give your middle schooler plenty of time with her friends, but don't totally excuse her from family activities. "Remember, we have lunch with Grandpa every Sunday, and you need to be there."
  • Clean up after herself. "Dirty laundry goes in the hamper. Any dirty clothes left on your bedroom floor won't get washed."

Reprinted with permission from the November 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: R. Burke, Ph.D. and others, Common Sense Parenting: Using Your Head as Well as Your Heart to Raise School-Aged Children, Boys Town Press.

 

How to react when grades are less than perfect

It's natural to be upset if your child brings home a bad report card. But showing your frustration and anger won't help him earn better grades. A better approach is to:

  • Put grades in perspective. Poor grades can sap your child's confidence. Make sure your child knows you think grades are important, but that they are not a measure of his worth.
  • Accent the positive. Talk about what your child has done well--in an academic subject or an extracurricular activity. Ask your child what he is most proud of.
  • Look behind the grade. Bad grades tell us there's a problem. Ask your child what he thinks the problem is. Sometimes it's not academic ability, but poor study habits or too many activities.
  • Set some realistic goals for improvement. Don't expect all A's if your child is getting all C's.
  • Contact--but don't attack--teachers. Sometimes kids try their best but still fail. Or they blame teachers for their troubles. Gather more information by asking teachers their view of what's happening.

Reprinted with permission from the November 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

Healthy habits promote strong attendance and school success

Your family habits greatly influence your child's attendance and readiness to learn. Remember, your child can't learn in school if she's not in school. Nor can she learn if she's too groggy to concentrate.

Commit to the following routines:

  • Meals. Your child will benefit from healthy foods, such as whole grains, produce and lean protein. Make sure she eats breakfast every day, even if it is a piece of toast in one hand and a banana in the other as she runs out the door.
  • Exercise. A strong body, fueled by regular activity, helps your child stay alert in school during the day. Encourage exercise (walking, biking, shooting hoops) for at least 30 minutes a day. Exercise along with her when possible.
  • A good night's sleep. A routine that includes a set bedtime-- one that allows nine to 10 hours of sleep--is critical for getting your middle schooler up and out the door to school on time.

Reprinted with permission from the November 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: K. Alvy, Ph.D., The Positive Parent: Raising Healthy, Happy and Successful Children, Birth-Adolescence, Teachers College Press.

 

How to help your child with homework without taking over

It's frustrating to watch children struggle with homework. Some parents find it so difficult that they actually do assignments for them.

This isn't a good idea because homework is kids' responsibility. It teaches them important lessons and builds confidence. There are ways, however, that parents can help with homework. You can:

  • Help organize. Encourage your child to use calendars, assignment notebooks, folders and other organizers. Let him pick a regular time and place to study.
  • Help plan. Teach your child to divide large projects into small parts. If a report is due in three weeks, he'll have to do research, make an outline, write a rough draft and do revisions.
  • Help study. Call out vocabulary words to your child or use flash cards with him. Give him test-taking tips, such as "read instructions carefully" and "don't spend too long on individual questions."
  • Help clarify. If you understand an assignment your child is confused about, discuss it with him. Help him with sample problems.

But let him do the actual homework himself. If the assignment confuses you too, have your child review it with his teacher.

Reprinted with permission from the November 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

 

Middle School ~ October

Reading for pleasure can boost academic achievement

Studies have shown interesting things about reading. First, kids who read often become better readers. Second, parents influence how well their kids read.

For these reasons--and many more--it's important to encourage reading at home. Here's how to get your middle schooler to read:

  • Read aloud. Middle schoolers aren't too old for this. Take turns reading chapters to each other. Or have an older child read to a younger sibling.
  • Read yourself. It's important to show your child that reading is enjoyable.
  • Keep reading materials handy. Your house should be filled with books, magazines, newspapers and other reading materials.
  • Look for books. Take regular trips to the library or bookstore. See what books appeal to your child and encourage his interests.
  • Talk with librarians and booksellers. Ask what books they recommend for kids your child's age.
  • Set limits on technology time. This leaves more time for reading.
  • Don't force your child to read books he doesn't enjoy. Free-time reading should always be interesting.
  • Discuss books. Tell your child about a book you liked. Or ask your child to tell you about his favorite book.
  • Provide time for reading. Leave room in your child's schedule for reading every day.

Reprinted with permission from the October 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

Show your child how to create a study plan that leads to success

By middle school, your child should have a sense of the study plan that works best for him. If he is still studying in a haphazard fashion, he is robbing himself of the chance to do his best in school.

Help your child create an effective study plan by telling him to include things like:

  • When to study. If possible, your child should study when he feels sharpest and most alert. For some kids, it's right after school. For others, it's after dinner.
  • Where to study. Your child should avoid distractions when studying. Electronics should be turned off and out of reach. If this is not possible at home, he may need to try the library.
  • How to focus. If your child is in a comfortable and quiet place but still can't set his mind to work, he may be tired, hungry, thirsty or in need of a burst of exercise. Listening to and acting on these signals from his body may help his mental sharpness.
  • Methods that work. Some kids read a chapter and take notes from it. Some photocopy the chapter so they can use a highlighter on the pages. Some ask parents to quiz them. Some make flash cards. Help your child figure out the methods that best help him retain information. Remind him to keep necessary supplies on hand and tell you when he is running low.

Reprinted with permission from the October 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: R. Fry, Ace Any Test, Career Press.

 

A good night's sleep is critical for staying focused in school

A key part of your middle schooler's education exists far outside the classroom. It's sleep, and it's critical to his success in school. Why? Because research shows that a lack of sleep can make it tough for kids to focus on learning.

Although everyone is different, kids between the ages of 11 and 13 need roughly 9.5 to 10 hours of sleep per night. To figure out whether your child is getting enough shuteye, ask yourself:

  • Does he fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed?
  • Can he wake up fairly easily in the morning?
  • Is he alert all day--with no reports from school about him dragging in class?

If you answered yes to all these questions, chances are your child is getting the right amount of sleep. But if you answered no, it's time to take action. To help your child get enough sleep:

  • Enforce a regular bedtime.
  • Limit caffeine intake. Watch for this stimulant in things like soda, iced tea and chocolate.
  • Ban before-bed TV watching, and don't put a set in his room. Studies link watching TV to sleep problems.
  • Keep his cell phone out of his room overnight. Your child needs to be sleeping, not texting his friends!

Reprinted with permission from the October 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: K. Boyse, R.N. "Sleep Problems," University of Michigan Health System, www.med.umich.edu/1libr/yourchild/sleep.htm.

 

Instill a sense of responsibility in middle schoolers

You want your child to grow into a responsible young adult, so help him along! To instill a sense of responsibility in your middle schooler:

  • Talk about it. Teach your child that he's responsible for his attitude and the decisions he makes. If things are going wrong, help him see how his choices might have contributed to the situation. He'll be surprised to find out that even little things like his choice of words, tone or body language influence how things will turn out for him.
  • Enforce it. Insist that your child take responsibility for his actions. That means allowing him to experience the consequences of those actions. For example, don't take his forgotten homework to school over and over again.
  • Advocate it. Let your child know that you value responsibility-related traits like self-control and persistence. When you see these qualities being put into action, point them out and discuss them with him.
  • Model it. The best way to teach responsibility is to model it yourself. Let your child see you taking responsibility for your mistakes. "I left my gardening tools in the rain, and now they are rusted. I should have been more responsible." He will learn more by your admission than he'd learn in an hour of lecturing.

Reprinted with permission from the October 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: M. Josephson and others, Parenting to Build Character in Your Teen, Boys Town Press.

 

 

Middle School ~ September

Parent involvement at home leads to success in school

Do you want your child to succeed in middle school?

Then stay involved! Your involvement is the biggest factor in whether your child will do well academically.

To get your child off to a great start this year:

  • Make your home learning-rich. Keep materials on hand that stimulate your child's mind. From simple art supplies to library books, offer creative outlets for her curiosity.
  • Encourage reading. Reading for pleasure will help your child build the comprehension and vocabulary skills she'll need to tackle more difficult material. Whether it's poetry, historic novels or science fiction, set aside time for your child to read every day.
  • Talk to your child about the importance of paying attention in class. Suggest that she take notes. Encourage her to participate. Challenge her to ask one question per day in each of her classes. This will keep her focused and engaged in what she is learning.
  • Start homework routines. Have a set time for homework. Offer your child a quiet place to work. Good study habits will help her through middle school--and beyond. And on days your child doesn't have homework, encourage her to read or review instead.
  • Talk about school. Show your child that education is a priority in your family by asking her about school every day. Be sure to really listen to what she has to say.

 

Help your child improve valuable reading comprehension skills

Middle schoolers are expected to read complex texts and novels. Yet some students still have trouble with reading comprehension.

Comprehension is the ability to fully understand what you have read. It can also include more advanced skills, such as being able to draw conclusions based on the reading material.

Try these ideas to help your child improve comprehension skills:

  • Encourage your child to form pictures in his head of what he is reading. If he has trouble with this, have him actually draw the pictures at first.
  • Have your child name at least one thing in the material that reminds him of something he already knows.
  • Have him tell you what he thinks are the most important parts of the story or text. What is the main idea? If he's reading a short story or a novel, who are the main characters? What conflicts do the characters face? In an informational text, what is the author's main point?
  • Practice critical thinking, a key skill for middle school students. Ask your child to tell you what he thinks about the material. Does it make sense? Should the author have presented the information in a different way? Did characters in the novel make good choices?

 

Experts say middle school may be prime time for bullying

Middle school can be stressful enough, but it may also be the time students and parents need to worry most about bullying. Recent studies show that nasty behavior seems to boost kids' popularity in middle school.

The bullies of the 21st Century aren't your typical schoolyard bullies. They include the:

  • Verbally abusive bully who calls people names and spreads rumors.
  • Social bully who gets others to exclude or reject someone.
  • Cyberbully who posts nasty comments on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

If your child is being bullied:

  • Talk to him about it. Understand that he might be too embarrassed or scared to admit it.
  • Be supportive. Assure him that it's not his fault.
  • Ask him how he's been dealing with the bully. What has worked? What hasn't?
  • Ask others to help. A teacher or guidance counselor might have a solution you haven't thought of.
  • Encourage him to stay with a group of friends. Bullies often pick on kids who are alone.

If your child is the one bullying:

  • Let him know that you will not tolerate bullying behavior.
  • Try to get him to acknowledge his actions. Ask what he did. Whom did he hurt?
  • Ask him what he was trying to accomplish. How might he meet that goal in the future without hurting anyone?
  • Help him figure out how to make amends with the person he hurt.

 

What should you find out at the start of the year?

Parent involvement doesn't just mean volunteering. It means educating yourself about what goes on at school. The more you know, the more you can be a partner in her education.

Here are a few things to find out at the beginning of the school year:

  • Your child's class schedule.
  • The names of your child's teachers.
  • The best way and time to contact teachers.
  • Teachers' homework policies.
  • The name of your child's school guidance counselor, and the role she plays.
  • The school's telephone number.
  • The school's dress code.
  • The school's backpack policy.
  • The school's technology policy.
  • The locker and class changing routines.
  • Your child's locker combination.
  • Your child's bus number and bus route.
  • Procedures to follow should your child need to be administered medication during the day.
  • Procedures for reporting tardies and absences.
  • The name of the principal.
  • The name of the school mascot.
  • Tutoring services available.
  • A list of school projects and events planned for this month.
  • The names and phone numbers of parents of your child's friends at school.
  • At least one way you can volunteer at the school.

 

Middle School ~ May

Ensure your child's strong attendance through the year

It can be tempting to skip school at the end of the year, especially on a day that feels like summer. Do all you can to make sure your child does not give in to the temptation. Showing up every day--right up until the last day--is one of the best things your child can do to have success in school.

Here are some more things you should know about why regular attendance is so important:

  • Nine or fewer. That is the number of days your child can miss over the course of the entire year for the best chance of success and on-time graduation. And that doesn't mean your child is "allowed" to miss nine days! The number should be as close to zero as possible.
  • By sixth grade, if your child has regularly missed more than nine days of school each year, he is at higher risk for dropping out than his peers who have missed fewer than nine days.
  • Studies show that attendance habits can have a greater impact on your child's chances to graduate on time than his test scores do.
  • Ten percent. That's 18 days of school. If your child were to miss this many days, his chances of academic success drop significantly. Some students can no longer catch up once they miss this much school.

 

Middle schoolers still need supervision over the summer

Summer usually offers more freedom for your child. This is promising for him, but it should also mean more over-sight for you. During the school year you generally know where your child is and what he is doing during certain hours. That may not be as true in the summer.

Here are some tips:

  • Set rules with your child at the beginning of summer. Rules should cover exactly where he is allowed to go, with whom and when. Any exceptions need to be discussed and approved by you in advance.
  • Do not allow your child to "go hang out with the guys." Which guys? He shouldn't be out with students you don't know. Ask to meet his friends. And find out their ages. In general, middle school students should not be spending unsupervised time with students in high school, especially in the upper grades.
  • Have consequences for times when your child may break the rules. Make consequences fit "the crime." For example, if your child comes in late, he may have to stay in the house the next night.

 

You have the biggest impact on your child's school achievement

Do you think the quality of your child's school makes the greatest difference in her overall academic success? Think again. Studies show that parent involvement has the biggest impact on kids' achievement.

To reach this conclusion, researchers compared "family social capital" and "school social capital." They defined family social capital as:

  • The degree of trust between parent and child.
  • The amount of open communication at home.
  • The level of parent involvement at school.

These same researchers defined school social capital as:

  • The availability of extracurricular activities.
  • Teacher morale.
  • The willingness and ability of staff to meet students' needs.
  • The presence of a positive learning environment.

It turns out that kids with high levels of family social capital but low levels of school social capital do better than kids with more perks at school but less parental input at home.

What does this mean? It means staying involved in your child's education is absolutely critical. To remain actively involved in her schooling:

  • Connect with teachers. Attend parent-teacher conferences. Read every handout that comes home. Regularly visit the school's website to see what's new.
  • Take an interest in what she's learning. Every night, ask your child about what she did in school that day. And don't settle for a reply of "Nothing."
  • Encourage her to aim high. "You're doing great in math! How about taking honors next year?"

 

Playing board games builds skills and encourages learning

Board games provide an activity the whole family can enjoy. They also reinforce skills that inspire learning and thinking. Your child will benefit from:

  • Following directions. Middle schoolers need to practice this skill. Just ask any middle school teacher!
  • Lessons in logic, reasoning and strategy. For success at many games, your child will need to decide which move to make or card to play. This kind of decision making is helpful when she takes higher math and science classes.
  • Reading, writing, spelling and vocabulary. Some board games are all about creating words and word puzzles. For others, your child must read and understand questions and clues.
  • Creating and spotting patterns. Studies show success in recognizing, remembering and applying patterns is directly related to success in math.

 

 

Middle School ~ April

Middle school is the perfect time to start thinking about college

College may be several years away, but it's not too early for your middle schooler to start preparing! To help her lay the groundwork for a successful college experience, encourage her to:

  • Work hard in class. The effort and smart study habits she develops now will pay dividends later.
  • Challenge herself. Is your child eligible for honors courses? Then she should enroll in them. A rigorous schedule in middle school will prepare her to handle even tougher courses in years to come.
  • Pursue higher-level math. If it's available, she should try to take algebra now. It'll put her on the path toward advanced math in high school and beyond.
  • Read. Strong reading skills are vital to achieving academically--whether in middle school, high school or college. So urge your child to read for pleasure.
  • Think about what she wants to do. Is your child passionate about a certain subject? Talk to her about how she might turn that passion into a career someday. The more she thinks about it now, the more motivated she will be to succeed in school.

Reprinted with permission from the April 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "Middle Schoolers: Get Ready!" KnowHow2GO.com, www.knowhow2go.org/middle.php.

 

Be available & nonjudgmental when talking to your adolescent

Remember that chatty elementary schooler you used to know? Well, he's turned into a guarded preteen. Suddenly, talking with him feels like navigating a minefield. Ask him one wrong question, and BOOM! He explodes. Or worse, he clams up completely.

So how do you keep the lines of communication clear? By:

  • Keeping your questions brief. To stay on top of what's happening in school, avoid yes-no questions. Instead, ask open-ended ones: "What are you studying in science this week?"
  • Being available. Your child probably opens up once in a blue moon. So when he does, it's crucial that you be there to pay attention--and to really listen.
  • Never talking down to him. Your child's problems may seem minor to you. But they're major to him. Act otherwise, and he'll be even less likely to share next time.
  • Offering alternatives. If your child won't confide in you, urge him to turn to another trusted adult. Whether it's a teacher, a relative or even a friend's parent, he needs to talk about school and life with someone you both trust.
  • Never giving up. These touchy years won't last forever, so hang in there. Stay optimistic, and keep being the reliable presence your child depends on. You'll get him back one day.

Reprinted with permission from the April 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

Are you boosting your child's concentration?

As the weather gets warmer, your child's concentration may start to diminish. Answer yes or no to the questions below to see if you are helping your child concentrate and stay focused:

___1. Do you encourage your child to engage in a focus-building activity he enjoys? For some kids, this is reading; for others, sports.

___2. Do you set limits on screen time? Extended time in front of the TV, video games or computer can reduce concentration.

___3. Do you encourage your child to finish tasks and praise him for doing so?

___4. Do you discourage multitasking? It is difficult for your child to concentrate on homework while watching TV and texting friends.

___5. Do you minimize interruptions when your child is working hard?

How well are you doing?

Mostly yes answers mean you are helping your child maintain good concentration. Mostly no answers? Check the quiz for some suggestions.

Reprinted with permission from the April 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

Know how to help your child with the order of operations

Nearly every middle school student will have to learn the order of operations in a pre-algebra or algebra course. Here are some tips for helping your child:

  • Remember PEMDAS. This is an acronym for the order of operations. P stands for numbers in parentheses. E is for exponents. M is multiplication. D is division. A is addition. S is subtraction. Another way to remember the acronym PEMDAS is with this silly phrase: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.
  • Attack the problem by looking for those numbers in parentheses first. For example, if you see (4 + 6) in the problem, have your child solve that to get 10. Then have your child rewrite the entire problem, but this time substituting the number 10 in the space that used to say (4 + 6).
  • Look for numbers with exponents. An example would be 32 . This is another way to write 3 x 3. This equals 9. Again, have your child rewrite the entire problem, but this time substituting the number 9 in the space where the exponent was.
  • The last parts of the order are multiplication and division, followed by addition and subtraction. These seem like they should be the easiest, but many students get confused because a problem may include both multiplication and division or both addition and subtraction. They don't know which to do first! 
    Advise your child to read the problem from left to right. If multiplication is the first thing on the left as she reads the problem, she should do it first. Then continue on to division.

Reprinted with permission from the April 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: Helping With Math, "Determining Order of Operations," http://tinyurl.com/4x8n4zy.

 

 

Middle School ~ March

The 'dropout seed' may be planted in middle school

Dropouts may occur in high school, but they're often born in middle school. In other words, many kids who drop out of school between ninth and twelfth grade started down that path in sixth, seventh or eighth grade.

Studies show that, without intervention, a sixth grader is 75 percent more likely than his peers to drop out of school if he:

  • Misses class 20 percent or more of the time.
  • Fails language arts or math.
  • Earns poor grades in a core course due to behavior issues.

That's the bad news. The good news is that parents can intervene and steer middle schoolers down the right path.

Here's how:

  • Expect your child to attend school--every single day.
  • Motivate your child to work hard and do his best.
  • Let him know that you believe in him--and that you know he'll succeed at whatever he tries.
  • Encourage your child to become involved in an extracurricular activity. Students with ties to the school beyond academics are more likely to stay in school.
  • Work as a team with your child's teachers. You all want the best for him.
  • Talk about school at home--every day.

Reprinted with permission from the March 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "Middle School Moment," FRONTLINE, http://tinyurl.com/8t4j84d.

 

Keep kids safe & productive when home alone

You may feel your child is mature and capable. However, if she comes home to an empty house every day after school, you probably still worry about her.

To make sure her "after-school alone time" is safe and that she spends the time productively working on homework:

  • Prepare for emergencies. Before leaving your child alone, be sure she knows what to do in case of a fire, severe weather or other urgent situation.
  • Write down the rules. Whether it's "no friends over" or "no cooking" while you're away, write down your expectations.
  • Insist she check in. She should call or text you as soon as she arrives home.
  • Help her develop a routine. If the bus drops your child off at 4 p.m., but you don't get home until 6 p.m., give her a framework for filling those hours. "Take 30 minutes to relax, and then tackle your homework."
  • Create a Plan B. Keys get lost. Doors can jam. So make sure your child has a back-up plan if she can't get into the house.

Reprinted with permission from the March 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

Discipline at home affects your child's classroom performance

Effective discipline won't just improve your child's behavior at home. It could impact her success in the classroom, too.

That's because, among other things, discipline teaches kids:

  • Cause and effect. If your child misbehaves at home and then faces a consequence for it, she'll learn that the power to avoid penalties is in her hands. ("If I obey the rules, I won't get in trouble.") And the same goes for school. The more she listens to teachers, the less likely she'll be to act up in class.
  • Responsibility. The fact that you even have house rules implies that your child is capable of following them. From keeping her room clean to packing her book bag each night, the tasks she's expected to perform remind her that she's a competent young person. And when she takes this mindset to class, she may welcome challenging assignments--not be intimidated by them.

Of course, not all discipline is created equal. To have the biggest effect, you should discipline your child:

  • Firmly. "No" needs to mean "no." Period. If it occasionally means "well, maybe, but only if you whine enough," it's pointless.
  • Fairly. Never create unreasonable rules and then come down hard on your child when she falls short. You're setting her up for failure.
  • Consistently. If a certain behavior isn't okay today, it shouldn't suddenly be okay tomorrow. Screaming at your child for eating in the living room one day and then joining her there with your own snack the next sends mixed messages.

Reprinted with permission from the March 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

Effective note-taking skills can lead to greater test success

Research shows that taking notes can benefit students in many ways. Some students forget what the teacher says in class, but they will remember if they have a written record. Reviewing class notes is also a great way to study for tests.

Share these note-taking tips with your middle schooler:

  • Think about what is important and write it down. If your teacher writes important points on the board or displays them on a screen, copy them down. If not, listen for names, dates, times of events and other such key facts.
  • Don't try to write down everything. That will exhaust you and won't help you do well on the test. Check with your teacher if you are not sure what the highlights are.
  • Copy your notes at home. Sometimes notes taken in a hurry can be a bit sloppy. Rewriting them ensures you know what you are reading when you study later. It also helps the information stick in your mind. If your hand is tired from writing, consider typing them and printing them out.
  • Enlist a friend. If a classmate also takes notes, you can compare them. Maybe your friend picked up something you missed. Study together and quiz each other for practice.
  • Stay organized. Taking notes won't help you study if you lose them. It won't help you if you don't know which class they are for, or for which time period. Consider using a binder that has different sections, labeled with the name of the class. Date your notes and file them in the appropriate section.

Reprinted with permission from the March 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "Note taking Tips," TeensHealth, Nemours, http://kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/studysmart/take_notes.html.

 

 

Middle School ~ February

Does texting affect middle schoolers' writing skills?

Does your child send countless text messages each day? She's not alone. Thirteen- to 17-year-olds send more than double the number of texts of any other age group.

But studies suggest those short messages might not be doing her writing skills any favors. According to research, the more often kids text using "text-speak" ( writing "gr8" for "great"), the likelier they are to:

  • Have poor grammar skills. And the more text-speak they use, the worse their grammar becomes.
  • Have trouble switching gears. Unlike bilingual kids who can easily move between languages, text-speak tends to "bleed over" into regular writing. This can lead to struggles--and poor grades--in school.

All is not lost, though. This same research shows that text-obsessed kids can polish their writing skills in class. But texting has its merits, too. Although it's true that text-speak isn't exactly Shakespeare, kids who are adept at texting tend to be good at:

  • Identifying homophones, which are words that sound the same but are spelled differently.
  • Thinking creatively. Expressing a complex thought via choppy text-speak takes imagination!

So what should parents do? Set limits on the time your child spends texting and remind her that texting and writing are two separate things!

Reprinted with permission from the February 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: S.D. Sparks, "Duz Txting Hurt Yr Kidz Gramr? Absolutely, a New Study Says," Education Week, tinyurl.com/8b2of4p.

 

Let your child take over some school tasks

Your middle schooler won't morph into a responsible young adult overnight. But he may not morph into one at all if you continue doing everything for him!

Now that he's in middle school, your child is capable of taking responsibility for:

  • Packing his lunch. Making a sandwich isn't rocket science. So give him a lesson in how to load up his lunch box. Lay down some basic rules about what's okay--or not okay--to pack, and insist he prepare his lunch the night before school.
  • Waking up on time. Show your child how to set an alarm clock. In the morning, let the alarm wake him up. (But act as his "backup alarm" until he gets the hang of it.) If he's too quick to hit "snooze" and doze off again, place the clock across the room from his bed so he'll have to get up to turn it off.
  • Getting forms signed. Don't go through his backpack looking for papers that need your signature. Getting them signed is his responsibility, so let him bring them to you.

Reprinted with permission from the February 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

Good nutrition and exercise are ingredients for school success

Diets often change as children approach the teen years. Teenagers often eat on the run, opting for junk food instead of healthy snacks. Some kids decide they are overweight and begin to restrict certain foods. And many middle schoolers become less active than they were in elementary school.

These practices can be harmful. A healthy body will help your child maintain a strong mind and success in school. Use the tips below for your child:

  • Serve nutritious food. This could include lean meat and fish, beans, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Do not let your child diet unless your doctor determines she has a health problem. Your doctor should supervise any diet.
  • Try to eat at least one meal together each day as a family.
  • Encourage your child to exercise (walking, biking, running) for at least 30 minutes a day. Exercise along with her when possible.
  • Don't criticize your own body, or talk about being thin. Instead, talk about being healthy and strong.

Reprinted with permission from the February 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: F. Berg,Children and Teens Afraid to Eat, Healthy Weight Network.

 

Identify and remove distractions before your child starts studying

Does your child ever do poorly on a test, even when he studies? Does it take him hours to complete homework in a subject he usually does well in?

One of the first things to check is whether your child can concentrate at home or whether he is distracted. You can't turn your home into the quiet room of a public library. But you can make an effort to:

  • Maintain quiet during study time. Help younger siblings find something to do.
  • Give your child something to eat and drink before study time.
  • Keep light and temperature at comfortable levels.
  • Keep your child away from the TV, phone and computer, except during scheduled study breaks.
  • Have a no visitors policy during study time. If your child is studying with friends, keep a close eye to make sure they are studying.
  • Pay attention to whether something is bothering your child. Encourage him to talk about it before studying. Brainstorm solutions together so your child can study without worrying. Sometimes your child may feel too much stress from his day to go right into studying. A brief period of exercise can help clear his mind.

Reprinted with permission from the February 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: J. Ban, Parents Assuring Student Success (PASS): Achievement Made Easy By Learning Together, Indiana University.

 

 

Middle School ~ January

Resolve to study & stick to routines in the New Year

New Year's resolutions aren't just for adults! Middle schoolers can benefit from them, too. Encourage your child to come up with a few school-related resolutions. If he's stumped about where to start, suggest he make resolutions regarding:

  • Projects. If your child typically puts off big assignments until the last moment, get him to turn over a new leaf. The next time a book report or research paper looms, remind him to break it into small parts and tackle one bit at a time.
  • Homework. If your child's study habits are haphazard, refine them. Instead of hitting the books "whenever and wherever," help him designate a work area. Review his after-school schedule and figure out the best time for studying.
  • Writing. If your child groans when he has to write a paper for school, challenge him to strengthen his writing skills. Writing in a journal for a few minutes every day will do just that.
  • Reading. If your child doesn't like to read for pleasure, help him set some reading goals. Perhaps he can read 15 minutes every night before going to bed.
  • Extracurricular activities. If your child signs up for every activity that comes his way, he may be spreading himself too thin. Have him think about which activities can stay and which should go. And remember: School comes first. No activity--regardless of how much he enjoys it--should be allowed to interfere with academics.

Reprinted with permission from the January 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

Three ways parent involvement benefits you and your family

Parent involvement at the middle-school level is just as important as it was in elementary school. Students' grades, test scores, attendance and behavior all tend to be better when parents are aware of what is going on at school.

But your child is not the only one who benefits when you get involved. Here are three ways being involved also benefits you:

  1. You know who to contact if you have concerns. You know which teachers teach each of your child's classes. You know the counselor and are familiar with the administrators.
  2. You understand more about how the school works. Perhaps you are from a very different area than where you are currently living. Perhaps the middle grades in the school you attended were grouped differently. Perhaps it was called a junior high school or intermediate school. Being involved helps you become familiar with the education system.
  3. The school and the teachers have an understanding of you and your family. Perhaps English is not your first language. Perhaps you need support. The school may be able to direct you to community agencies and organizations who can help. If they know what is going on at home, they can better respond to your child at school.

Reprinted with permission from the January 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: Project Appleseed, "Parent Involvement at the Middle School Level," www.projectappleseed.org/middle.html.

 

Support your child as homework becomes more challenging

As kids progress through middle school, they will likely notice a significant change in their homework. There may be more of it, and it may be more challenging. In most cases, it will be both.

At this point, many parents aren't sure how to react. They may no longer feel comfortable and confident helping with homework. Or they may worry that the child has too much to do and that she will never be able to get it all done.

Rest assured that you are still a valuable resource as your child does homework. You can suggest places for your child to get information. "Is there a government website that deals with that?" Or you can offer to help her find a book at the library. You can also share tips on keeping assignments organized, which becomes even more important in middle school.

Through it all, keep telling your child that you have confidence in her. Yes, the homework is harder, but she has learned so much. She can do it. Compliment her on her effort. And encourage her to talk to her teacher as soon as possible if she is having a problem.

Reprinted with permission from the January 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: H. Glenn and M. Brock, 7 Strategies for Developing Capable Students, Prima Publishing.

 

Strategies can help your middle schooler ace true-false tests

True-false tests may seem simple, but that doesn't mean they're easy. Like every other exam, your child should prepare for these tests by studying and getting plenty of sleep the night before--and eating a good breakfast the morning of--test day.

To help him do his best on these sometimes tricky true-false exams, remind your child to pay close attention to the wording of each question. He should:

  • Watch out for words like never and always. When they appear, it means every part of the statement must be correct for "true" to be the right answer.
  • Notice words like sometimes or generally. These words mean that most of the statement must be accurate for "true" to be the right answer.
  • Remember that if any part of the statement is incorrect, "false" is the right answer. Have your child ask his teacher whether there's a penalty for guessing an answer. This is especially critical before a standardized true-false test.

If there isn't a penalty for guessing, tell him to go ahead and roll the dice. He's got a 50-50 shot of picking the right answer!

Reprinted with permission from the January 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "True-False Test Tips-Help," TestTakingTips.com, www.testtakingtips.com/test/true.htm.

 

 

Middle School ~ December

Five reasons your middle schooler should keep reading

Now that your child is in middle school, she probably spends more time on homework than she did when she was in elementary school. With the increased work load, reading for pleasure may be pretty far down on her list of priorities.

Your child may think that she reads enough for school and shouldn't have to read any more than that. Here are five reasons why your child should make time for reading:

  1. Reading makes you an expert. Reading is the best way for your child to learn as much as possible about her areas of interest.
  2. Reading takes you places. Few people can afford to travel every place they'd like to go. But your child can always travel through a book. And she can gain knowledge to help her set goals to get there in person someday.
  3. Reading makes you laugh. Appreciating the humor in books helps develop your child's thinking skills and improves her own sense of humor.
  4. Reading makes you a detective. A winter day on break is a perfect time for your child to grab a cup of hot chocolate or tea and dive into a great mystery.
  5. Reading introduces you to people like you. In books that feature characters her age, your child is likely to encounter people that think the way she does, and have the same issues she is facing.

Reprinted with permission from the December 2012 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2012 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "Teenagers and reading," Reading is Fundamental, www.rif.org/us/literacy-resources/articles/teenagers-and-reading.htm.

 

Help your child focus on the future with goals and support

As you guide your child through middle school, it's important to help him think about his future. To set your child up for academic success:

  • Help him set goals. You're not the only one who should have high expectations for your child. He should have them for himself, too! Remind him to set goals and support him as he works toward them.
  • Broaden his horizons. Expose your child to different learning opportunities, whether at the community center or the zoo. You never know which experience will spark a passion.
  • Pull back. As he gets older, stop doing things for your child. He may once have needed constant reminders to finish his homework. But now? See if he can do it without any prodding.
  • Promote risk-taking. Applaud him when he tackles a new challenge. The future is all about the unfamiliar. If your child embraces the unknown now, he may be more confident later.
  • Value the effort. Whenever he attempts something but falls short, let your child know how proud you are that he tried in the first place.

Reprinted with permission from the December 2012 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2012 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: E. Medhus, M.D., Raising Everyday Heroes: Parenting Children to Be Self-Reliant, Beyond Words Publishing.

 

A written discipline plan can curb arguments & misunderstandings

While some kids are "rule followers" and always seem to do what is expected of them, others resist rules and enjoy arguing over every point. If the latter sounds like your child, consider creating a written discipline plan.

A written discipline plan serves as a reminder for your child. Seeing the rules posted can help him keep them in mind. It also removes your child's ability to argue. You can point to the plan to show him exactly what you both agreed to.

For a discipline plan to be effective:

  • Keep it simple. Too many rules will overwhelm both of you. Think of the top five issues that are most important to you. Post the rules and consequences for those.
  • Involve your child. A child who needs a written discipline plan is also a child who does not like to give up control. Give him some input about rules and consequences. But remind him that you have the final say.
  • Monitor your child's progress. When you notice that your child is able to stay consistently within boundaries, it's time to review and possibly revise the discipline plan.

Reprinted with permission from the December 2012 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2012 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: L. Chang, "Teen Behavior Problems and Discipline," WebMD, www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/teen-behavior-and-discipline.

 

Take time to talk to your preteen about bullying

You may think it is easy for kids to recognize bullying. But in the social structure of middle school, it is not so easy. That's because middle school students tend to be much more forgiving if the bully is one of the "popular kids."

As you talk with your child about bullying, encourage him to:

  • Focus less on who is bullying and more on what is actually happening. Are the actions hurtful? Are the words mean or meant to cause the victim sadness, fear or shame? Then it's bullying--even if the person doing it is someone everybody likes and the victim is someone who doesn't have many friends.
  • Think about how he would feel if he were in the victim's place. Would it make a difference to him if the bully were a "popular kid"? Or would he be hurt no matter who the bully was? Encouraging your child to "walk in another's shoes" is an important step toward building empathy.
  • Not be a bystander. Standing by and watching, or worse, laughing along with the bully, is almost as harmful as bullying. Your child should ask the bully to stop. If he is afraid to do so, he should slip away and tell an adult.

Reprinted with permission from the December 2012 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2012 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: H. Villarica, "The Tricky Politics of Tween Bullying," Time.com, http://healthland.time.com/2010/12/03/adolescents-anonymous-are-tweens-the-new-mean-girls/.

 

 

Middle School ~ November

Motivate your middle schooler with goals and perspective

It isn't always easy to keep your middle schooler motivated. After all, his classes may be tough, his schedule is probably packed and the school year is long. But don't let him get stuck in the doldrums! Instead, inspire him to keep working hard. You can:

  • Help him set goals. Rather than view school as one long, work-filled year, help your child set small and achievable goals. It could be anything from "Read for pleasure every weekend" to "Study science facts three nights each week." The more reachable his goals are, the more chances he'll have to feel successful. And there is no greater motivator than success.
  • Keep things in perspective. The next time your child is discouraged over a poor grade, remind him that middle school is only one step on the path of his education. A few disappointing marks won't derail his entire future, but they should encourage him to work harder.
  • Reward her. True, the days of "gold stickers on a chart" are over, but that doesn't mean your child is too old for a little bonus every now and then for a job well done! So the next time he brings up a grade, reward him with a special privilege. Good grades are their own reward, but everyone appreciates recognition now and then!

Reprinted with permission from the November 2012 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2012 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

Home activities promote your child's learning

Learning doesn't happen only in the classroom. You can reinforce your middle schooler's academic skills right from home. Here's how:

  • Take turns reading something aloud with your child.
  • Talk about what you read.
  • Talk about anything--and really listen to what your child has to say.
  • Know what your child is doing in school, and know your child's perspective on school.
  • Help your child engage in critical thinking. Discuss similarities and differences between her classes. Ask your child's advice on solving problems and ask her questions such as "What would happen if ... ?"
  • Give your child responsibilities. If you have a pet, your child should help with its care. Your child can learn to prepare simple meals and do other chores to help the family.
  • Spend time with your child. If you have cultural attractions nearby, such as museums, check them out. But the important thing is to just be together.

Reprinted with permission from the November 2012 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2012 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

 

Instill integrity in your child with rules and consequences

Instill a sense of integrity in your child, and you'll be shaping a future adult who is ethical and decent. To nurture your child's integrity:

  • Take it seriously. If you overhear your child lying to a friend, talk to him about it privately. Integrity starts at home. If you don't value it, neither will he.
  • Discuss it. A recent survey reported that 60 percent of students admitted to cheating on a test in the past year. How does your child feel about that? If he thinks it's no big deal, say, "I'm surprised you think it's okay to cheat. Why do you feel that way?"
  • Be firm. If you believe strongly in things like trustworthiness and honesty, tell your child how you feel. "I understand it's tempting to lie or cheat sometimes, but it's not okay to do it. Period."
  • Enforce consequences. If you catch your child behaving unethically, enforce a penalty. "You swore you were studying, but you were really playing video-games. Now there's no more video-game time for the rest of the week."
  • Model the concept yourself. Be a person of your word. Say what you mean and mean what you say. And when you're tempted to tell a little white lie or fudge some facts? Remember that your child is watching--and learning.

Reprinted with permission from the November 2012 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2012 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "What Parents Can Do to Teach Integrity," Josephson Institute, http://charactercounts.org/resources/parents/parenting_for_integrity.html.

 

Share strategies for conquering math homework

Middle school math is challenging, as many students move up to pre-algebra or algebra. Even if your child is not taking these courses, he will be exposed to some of the concepts. If he doesn't fully understand them, homework might be a struggle.

Here are some tips to share with your child:

  • Make the best use of class time. Pay attention to the lecture. Take notes or follow along with handouts. Always write down at least two examples of each type of problem the teacher is presenting.
  • Go over class notes each day at home, even if the teacher doesn't give homework. Studies show that students get the most out of notes when the lecture is fresh in their minds.
  • Look to the textbook. Look for additional examples of problems. Read explanations of how to do the problems. Try the questions at the end of the chapter.
  • Ask for help. No one should do your child's homework but your child. However, if a friend or family member is familiar with the concepts, your child can certainly ask for a demonstration.
  • Talk to the teacher. See if extra help is available. Your child may be able to make an appointment to stay after school for help.

Reprinted with permission from the November 2012 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2012 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "Homework Help for Middle School Math," Math and Reading Help, http://mathandreadinghelp.org/articles/Homework_Help_for_Middle_School_Math.html.

 

 

Middle School ~ October

Help your child fit in by offering support & advice

Middle school can be extremely challenging, and not just academically. There's a huge social component to these years, too, and much of it centers on "fitting in."

Although you can't make your child fit in at school, there are ways to help her do just that, including:

  • Acknowledging its importance. Don't dismiss her concerns about fitting in by saying it "doesn't matter." It does matter, especially to her. Never make her feel like she's being silly or trivial.
  • Urging her to be patient. Whether she's the new kid or just hoping to make new friends, explain to your child that finding her niche can take time. A few bumpy weeks or months don't mean she's doomed to become a middle-school outcast.
  • Pointing out her strengths. If your child feels like the odd one out at school, remind her of her talents. Then show her how others may come to appreciate those talents, too. "You're such a great painter. I bet you'll meet other kids in art class who like to paint, too!"
  • Working on her social skills. If it's been a long time since your child has tried to make new friends, she may be rusty. So remind her to be friendly, to smile and to be a good listener. And if she gets rejected? Encourage her to shake it off and keep her chin up.

Reprinted with permission from the October 2012 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2012 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "Fitting In," DiscoveryEducation.com, http://school.discoveryeducation.com/parents/pdf/fitting-in.pdf.

 

Offer support when your middle schooler is preparing for a test

Does your child come unglued at the thought of facing a big test? To help her prepare for upcoming exams:

  • Help her find out as much as she can in advance. What's the purpose of this particular test? What does a high score--or a poor one--mean for your child? Is the test multiple-choice? True or false? The more she knows what to expect, the more relaxed and confident she may feel on test day.
  • Encourage her to talk to her teacher about how best to prepare for the exam. Are there practice tests she can take? Useful websites to visit? Would reviewing particular textbook chapters help?
  • Keep her calm. It's normal for your child to be anxious when facing a test. But she shouldn't come completely unhinged! Remind her of all the studying and prep work she's already done, and help her keep things in perspective. A single poor test performance will not derail her entire future.
  • Watch out for her physical well-being. Insist your child get plenty of sleep the night before test day. Offer her a healthful breakfast in the morning.

Reprinted with permission from the October 2012 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2012 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: J.S. Schumm, Ph.D., How to Help Your Child with Homework: The Complete Guide to Encouraging Good Study Habits and Ending the Homework Wars, Free Spirit Publishing.

 

Encourage respect in your child by focusing on kindness

Respect is about treating others as you would like to be treated. And that begins with kindness. Encourage your chid to:

  • Use appropriate language. Be a good role model by speaking to your child and to others in the same way you want him to speak. Avoid profanity or other bad language. Use words such as please, thank you and excuse me. If your child forgets to use these words, remind him!
  • Do the right thing. If your child sees paper on the classroom floor, he should pick it up. If someone has his hands full and is trying to get out of the room, your child should open the door for him.
  • Have empathy for others. Your child should put himself "in someone else's shoes." He should try to understand the feelings and actions of others--his classmates, his teachers, etc. Ask your child often: "How do you think that person feels?" Or, "What could be going on to make that person act in that way?" These are the kinds of thoughts that inspire empathy.

Reprinted with permission from the October 2012 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2012 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: N. Paulu, "Helping your child through early adolescence," U.S. Department of Education, www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/adolescence/adolescence.pdf.

 

It's important to monitor your child's use of social media

Social media, where kids take part in online social communities, is part of the life of many middle schoolers. Even if your child isn't involved yet, chances are you will face this issue in the future.

Social media use for middle school students is neither good nor bad. It all depends on how you manage and monitor it. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Privacy. Even if your child limits page views to people he knows, they can still share what he posts with others. A rule of thumb is: "If you're not comfortable with everyone knowing it, don't post it."
  • Face-to-face contact. Social media can be a part of your child's social life. But if it is becoming most of his social life, you may have a problem. Does your child like to hang out with his friends in the "real world"? If not, you may have to strictly limit social media time in favor of encouraging interactions away from the computer.
  • Feelings. Social media makes it easy to hurt someone. Tell your child not to post anything he wouldn't say to someone's face. It's cowardly and is also a form of bullying.
  • Observation. It's a smart idea to get on any site your child is on and require him to allow you access to all his pages.

Reprinted with permission from the October 2012 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2012 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: N.W. Cappo, " ‘Talking Back to Facebook': A smart parent's guide for the digital age," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, www.post-gazette.com/stories/ae/book-reviews/book-review-talking-back-to-facebook-635046.

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