Parents Still Make a Difference

Content on this page is updated monthly, so please check back for new information! Reprinted with permission from  2018 issues of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2018 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

Use report-card time to set goals, celebrate effort

Your middle schooler just brought home a report card. Whether it’s good or bad, you can use it as a learning opportunity. With your child:

  • Talk about it. Are there any surprises? Discuss them with her. If you’re upset about a particular grade, remember to stay calm. Yelling will just shut down communication with your child. Calmly say, “I’m disappointed about that C in English. We need to talk about it some more.”
  • Set goals. Use your child’s report card to help her chart a course for the rest of the year. If she did well, talk about how she can keep up the good work. If she struggled, brainstorm ways to improve things going forward. “You did a great job of turning in your science homework, but you stumbled on tests. What if I start quizzing you each night of the week leading up to a test?”
  • Celebrate. Straight A’s are always a reason to celebrate, but if your child worked hard to bring up a grade in a class, she deserves a pat on the back. Always acknowledge your child’s effort.

Why is it so important for your middle schooler to be in school?

Every day of school is important. But after winter break, the consequences of missing days of school can be especially tough on your child. She should be in school every day unless she is ill.

Here’s why:

  • Once the year is half over, many teachers turn a serious eye to the end-of-year exams. The pace of instruction picks up. It becomes more difficult to catch up after missed days.
  • In just a few weeks, if not sooner, teachers will also begin to review for these exams. This review will go on at the same time as regular teaching.
  • Your child may have more homework as a result of faster instruction and review. The more time she is out of school, the more the homework piles up. And she will be required to turn it all in.

To support your child’s attendance, continue to:

  • Emphasize to your child the importance of being in every class. Arriving on time is important, too!
  • Accept no excuses except true illness or emergency for having your child miss school.
  • Avoid making plans for your child that would require her to miss school.

Be aware of the dangers of social media for middle schoolers

The average middle schooler spends nine hours a day connected to social media. So it is no wonder that their online “friends” have such an outsized influence on what they think.

However, not everyone your child interacts with online is a real friend. In fact, kids can lose connections with the people they see every day because they spend so much time online. (And who has 639 friends in real life anyway?)

But this is not the only danger of social media for middle school students. Their brains are just not wired to use it responsibly. Their frontal cortex, which is what helps adults manage distractions and plan ahead, is not well-developed yet. This means that middle schoolers lack the maturity to use social media appropriately.

In addition, children can easily become addicted to social media, which can lead to future addictive behaviors.

To protect your child:

  • Delay. If she isn’t on social media, wait. The longer you delay, the better.
  • Set limits. Don’t allow devices at mealtime. Keep devices out of your child’s bedroom overnight.
  • Talk about what is appropriate to post and what’s not.
  • Stay connected. Follow her social media accounts and be sure she knows you will look at them.
  • Create a family account. This lets your middle schooler stay in touch with friends, but in a safer space.
  • Schedule family time. Middle school is a time when your child needs you more than ever. So plan time to do things together—with the devices turned off!