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Laying the Groundwork For Middle School by Brittany Robell

For many families, the idea of their first child starting middle school is overwhelming. They often feel uncertain about how to best prepare for this new journey. Middle school can be a scary time for parents and students.
Students are navigating a new building and switching rooms for different subjects. Changing classes, electives that might change each day, as well as, an increase in responsibilities and expectations.
Feeling prepared and organized on their first day will help take away some of that stress and fear. As a middle school teacher, I’m going to share with you a few tips and tricks to help make the transition to middle school as smooth as possible.
Toward the end of fifth grade, help your child get comfortable checking his or her grades. Your child will also benefit from knowing how to communicate effectively with his or her teacher(s) about missing assignments or specific questions about scores he or she received. Even having them send practice emails to you would be beneficial.
As middle school students, they will be expected to advocate for themselves and become responsible for their achievements without parents being their voice. Accountability is the key to success during their secondary education.
The next step is specific to the school building. Before school begins, make sure your student tours the school, preferably with you or another adult. This is an opportunity for kids to ask questions and understand where they will be traveling throughout their day.
Most schools will allow children to tour the school after they have received their schedules in the fall. From experience, most of my students have lost the paper copy of their schedule by lunch on the first day.
I recommend keeping a copy of their schedule in multiple locations, i i.e., a photo on their phone, written in their planner, taped into their binder. If your child will be using a locker this will probably be a new experience for them and they will need ample time to practice with their combination to feel confident on their first day.
As a teacher, I have become an expert locker-opener due to 6th-grade students never practicing this before their first day of school. Locker troubles often equate to tardiness, which causes extra, unnecessary stress!
‘Organization’ is also vital to success in middle school. Being organized with ALL of the needed materials on their first day will help lessen the panic students feel when a teacher asks them to complete a worksheet or activity.
‘Organization’ is something I recommend parents continue to work on with their students throughout the school year, as students tend to use the “shoving” method for papers they receive throughout the day. Have your student go through their binders or backpacks weekly. This will help keep chaos to a minimum.
Also, keep in mind, teachers only have a certain amount of supplies that must last the entire school year. Without fail, supplies like extra pencils, glue sticks, and lined paper seem to just disappear, and teachers get VERY protective and start rationing their supplies!
Finally, this is solely for parents. Please be aware of how social media plays a role in your child’s day-to-day life.
There is a great deal of instruction time lost every day when students attempt to be on their cell phones or are distracted by the drama that arises from social media throughout the day. We all know too well the impact social media can have socially and emotionally. It has been my experience that these impacts are amplified during middle school years.
Middle school can be a wonderful time for children to learn and grow as humans, but it does take a little preparation to get there! I hope these tips and tricks will help your middle school student feel confident and excited to start on this new journey. ❦

About Brittany Robell

Brittany Robell has been an educator for eight years, seven of which have been teaching middle school. From a young age, she knew that teaching was her calling and is still passionate about her career in education. Brittany has a Master of Education from Concordia University with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction.

Brittany began her teaching career in Georgetown, South Carolina at Georgetown Middle School. Her first five years of teaching were at various Title 1 schools. She is currently a 7th-grade science teacher at Sherwood Middle School in Sherwood, Oregon.

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