Positive Parenting Corner

Five Ways to Help Your Young Adolescent Be Successful in Middle School

  • Don’t wait for things to go wrong. Talk honestly with your young adolescent. Talk about what is helpful to studying: studying after school and not after supper; eating breakfast; keeping an assignment notebook. Talk about what is not helpful: staying up too late on school nights; procrastinating on long-term projects; trying to play on the school team and a recreation league team in the same season.
  • Know what your young adolescent is doing by talking to him everyday. Don’t grill him, but find a time when you can sit down and really talk about his day. Many families still make it a priority to sit down for dinner most nights where they can talk about the events of the day in a calm and unhurried manner. If dinnertime doesn’t work for your family, perhaps a short walk in the evening or a time before bed when you can connect and talk about what is important.
  • Stay in touch with the school. Middle level schools are generally organized by teams, often with a designated team leader, so the team should be your contact. Other schools have advisory programs and the advisor is the person to talk to. In either case, know your child’s teachers and stay in contact. Some schools allow you to phone in to hear about the school and assignments; other schools have Web sites with lots of information about the school. It doesn’t take long to stay in touch so you know what is going on.
  • Encourage your young adolescent to become an active citizen this year. Have your child practice doing for others. Visiting a special senior citizen; helping with community clean-up; or becoming an advocate for recycling, literacy, or kindness to animals will help your young adolescent be an involved member of society and maintain that balance between caring for others and attending to her own needs.
  • Remember that middle school is a time for students to explore new opportunities. Doing well on tests and learning are critical, of course, but students are also learning a great deal about themselves. So, think carefully about what being successful really means. Is it more than receiving all As? Is it learning to be a self-starter? Is it learning to follow through on commitments?

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Katherine Hueter

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