Are you as nervous as your kid about middle school? Never fear, because the things sixth grade parents need to know about the first day of school are going to ease your mind. I know it's a daunting change from elementary school, where students are treated like the children they are, but you'll be fully armed with knowledge about how to navigate these delicate years once you read this list.
When kids are little, we parents pay a lot of lip service to them being a "big kid" when they reach little milestones like tying their shoes or pouring milk unassisted. We persist in this encouragement because they aren't actually, in any way, self-sufficient. But just like you, teachers are trying to transition your kid from childhood to adulthood. It's important to remember that 11 and 12-year-olds are in a very delicate period of adolescence where they want to be independent, but are essentially still kids for a little bit longer. Developmentally, they've moved away from concrete thought to entertaining more abstract ideas about what could happen, and are searching for their identity outside their family structure. According to the Cleveland Clinic, parents can support their growth in a number of ways, including giving your child undivided attention when they seek it, understanding their feelings if you can't understand their behavior, and valuing their input in family concerns.
So put aside your middle school fears. Keep the above in mind along with these six things, and you and your kid are sure to feel better about the change.
1. Combination Locks Are Tricky The First Go
So now your child has graduated from a cubby to a locker so they can store those hefty textbooks between classes, but do they know how to use it? Practice at home so they don't waste precious minutes between classes securing their belongings or have a lot of anxiety about it. Here's a combination lock guide from Master Lock in case you forgot how to use one.
2. Middle Schoolers Are Drama Llamas
The days of navigating your child through their social drama are over, so let them sort it out unless a situation becomes truly harmful. By floating above all their social maneuverings, you can be their safe place when you aren't involved in it.
3. They Might Think You're Dumb & Oppressive
Kids this age are trying to detach from their parents, so anything you say might be immediately dismissed. If this extends to school, Missouri guidance counselor Sharon Sevier suggested letting the school be "the heavy" because, unfortunately, teachers and administrators have more credibility than you do right now.
4. Homework Is A Certainty, & It's The Student's Responsibility
Yeah, they have several teachers now and they will all assign work to be done at home. Kids should be familiar with doing homework by sixth grade and now the challenge is how to manage it. The best you can do is help them stay organized and remind them to write down their assignments in each class. Don't fight about it, and let them suffer the natural consequences if they don't get it together.
5. Your Child Goes To School For Their Friends, Not Learning
While they will certainly end middle school smarter than they started, academic success is probably not what motivates them to get out of bed in the morning. Social connections — or lack thereof — are of primary importance to tweens and can make or break their experience, noted the Office of Adolescent Health. They will have many more opportunities to meet new people and your job is to encourage them to develop quality friendships, and comfort them when things go sideways.
6. Be Sure Your Student Knows Where All Their Classes Are
A middle school campus is much larger and contains more people than an elementary school, and students usually only have about five minutes (or fewer) between classes to get where they need to go. Attending student orientation is important for finding class locations so your student doesn't wrack up detentions for being late to class, or experience a lot of panic while looking.