Parental support plays an important role in helping tweens and teens succeed in middle school. But at this age, as students become more independent, it can be difficult for parents to know in which situations to engage and in which to take a less visible attitude.
Attend Kickoff Meeting and Parent-Teacher Conferences
Teens and tweens do better in school when their parents are involved in their academic life. Attending the nightly kickoff meeting is a great way to get to know your child’s teachers and their expectations. School administrators can also discuss policies and programs that affect the entire school.
Attending parent-teacher meetings is another way to stay informed. These meetings can be held once or twice a year, in the periods to report on the progress of the students. However, in many middle schools, parent-teacher conferences are only held if parents need to get involved to discuss issues such as behavior, poor grades, or if their child would benefit from advanced class work.
Remember that parents and guardians can request meetings with teachers, principals, school counselors, or other school personnel at any time during the course of the school year.
Support homework expectations
Homework tends to be more intense during middle school, and the time your child spends doing it will likely be longer than it was during elementary school. In general, you will have to spend between one and two hours a day doing homework.
Distraction-free means no phone, no television, and no Internet access except for resources related to the work you have to do. And be sure to check from time to time that your child is not distracted.
Sit down regularly with your child to discuss the study load and make sure there is a balance.
Most teachers are available to offer further help or to stay after school, and may be able to recommend other resources.
Send your child to school prepared to learn
A nutritious breakfast energizes middle school students and prepares them for the day ahead. In general, teens and tweens who eat breakfast have more energy and do better in school.
You can help improve your child’s attention span, concentration, and memory with a breakfast that includes foods rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein, plus little added sugar. If your child is late on some mornings, send fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, or a banana peanut butter sandwich. Many schools offer nutritious breakfast options before entering.
Teens and tweens also need the right amount of sleep to stay alert and ready to learn all day. In general, preteens need 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night and teens about 8½ to 9½ hours.
Difficulties may arise at this age for various reasons when going to sleep. Homework, sports, after-school activities, texting, television, computers, and video games, in addition to busy family schedules, can all contribute to students not getting enough sleep.
Teach your child to organize
Nobody is born with organizational skills; they need to be learned and put into practice. Being organized is critical to being successful in middle school, which is the time when students first face many teachers and classes every day. Additionally, some students begin participating in extracurricular activities for the first time. Because organization skills are not often clearly and directly taught in school, teens and tweens can benefit from parents helping them organize their work and manage time.
Information and class assignments should be organized by subject in organizers, notebooks, or folders. Teach your child to use a calendar or personal planner to stay organized and schedule study hours. Calendars or planners should include your child’s nonacademic commitments to help you manage time.
A list of things to do after school can be as simple as:
- Swimming practice
- walking the dog
- Study for the Social Studies Assessment (30 minutes)
- finish math work
- re-read science class notes (15 minutes)
- put clothes away
- Teach him study skills
Planning is a very important part of helping your middle school child study for assessments now that you have work from multiple teachers.
Make sure you and your child know the dates of the tests and plan enough study time before each test. When he has to study hard, help him determine approximately how long it will take to study for each assessment.
And remember that it is better to get a good night’s sleep than to stay up late to study. Recent studies show that students who stop sleeping to study are more likely to struggle on assessments the next day.