Parents Still Make a Difference

Content on this page is updated monthly, so please check back for new information! Reprinted with permission from  2017 issues of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2017 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

Responsibility is vital for middle school success

Now that your child is a middle schooler, he will need to take more responsibility for his learning. Just sitting quietly and behaving in his classes won’t be enough. Middle school teachers want students to participate actively in classroom activities. Students’ grades are often affected by the level of their class participation.

So, make sure your child knows it is his responsibility to:

  • Attend class every day. He can’t participate if he’s not in class.
  • Arrive on time. Arriving late disrupts his teacher and classmates.
  • Come prepared for class with homework completed and supplies in hand.
  • Ask questions. He should aim to ask at least one thoughtful question in each class every day.
  • Contribute to class discussions and group work.
  • Complete work outside of class and prepare for tests.

It is also your child’s responsibility to avoid certain behaviors. Share these classroom “don’ts” with him:

  • Don’t talk excessively when not called upon.
  • Don’t daydream.
  • Don’t put your head down on the desk or sleep.
  • Don’t move about the room when it’s not required for class activity.
  • Don’t fidget or play with games or gadgets.
  • Don’t complete homework for one class during another.
  • Don’t make rude remarks or inappropriate gestures.

School attendance should be your child’s top responsibility

Attendance is as important to your child’s school career as a foundation is to a house. Without it, there is nothing to build on.  It would be nearly impossible to list all the reasons your child must be in school. Here are just a few:

  • School attendance is the law. Every school district requires students to attend. The only exceptions are illness, a religious holiday or a family emergency.
  • Missing school is terrible for classroom performance. Most students have trouble keeping up if they miss more than a few days.
  • Friendships often get started at school. A child who misses school may have fewer friends.

To aim for great attendance:

  • Tell your child that his education is important to you and the family. Let him know you expect him to go to school every day.
  • Schedule appointments after school whenever possible.
  • Plan family trips on days when school is not in session.
  • Avoid taking your child out of school to babysit younger siblings or to run errands.

Sleep improves students’ school performance

Experts agree: Most middle schoolers aren’t getting the sleep they need in order to do their best in school. One study found that 85% of adolescents get fewer than eight and a half hours of sleep each night. Students this age should be getting nine to 10 hours.

When kids don’t get enough sleep, their academic performance suffers. They have difficulty remembering material and concentrating in school.  And it’s not just the amount of sleep that matters. Researchers say that consistency and quality of sleep matter, too.

To make sure your child gets the sleep he needs:

  • Set a reasonable bedtime that results in at least nine hours of sleep each night. Be consistent throughout the week.
  • Establish a bedtime routine that helps him relax and fall asleep. He could read or take a hot bath.
  • Set a screen time curfew. Studies show that watching TV or using electronics 90 minutes before bedtime delays sleep.
  • Keep electronics off or out of bedrooms during sleeping hours.

Arm your middle schooler with effective study habits

Students need strong study skills to be successful in middle school—and parents play a significant role in helping their children develop them. The study skills middle schoolers learn now will help them succeed today, in high school and beyond.

To lay the groundwork for your child’s academic success:

  • Encourage her to break down large projects. Don’t let your middle schooler get rattled by long-term assignments. Show her how to divide big projects into smaller, more manageable parts.
  • Have your child estimate how long a homework assignment or project will take and plan her study time accordingly. Then, have her use a timer to see if her estimates are accurate. This will help her make adjustments for future assignments, if necessary.
  • Increase her self-awareness. Ask your child to figure out when she’s at her best. Then encourage her to do most of her homework and studying during those times. If she needs to let off some steam after school, encourage her to go for a run or a brisk walk before sitting down to study.
  • Turn off the television. Don’t buy your child’s argument that TV is “just background noise.” Make sure homework time is free from all distractions.
  • Promote organization. Help her create a system to keep track of important assignments. It might be file folders, a color-coded binder or a desk calendar.