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.

Explore volunteer opportunities with your middle schooler

Community service may sound like a big commitment. But if your child can find just one hour a week, he can do something significant to help others and himself.

Service opportunities are everywhere. Here are some age-appropriate ones for your child to consider:

  • Be a counselor or a counselor-in-training at a summer program for younger children.
  • Help a neighborhood family.
  • Offer free babysitting, pet sitting or dog-walking services.
  • Collect canned food and deliver it to a food bank.
  • Tutor a younger child in math or reading over the summer.
  • Collect personal essentials, such as toothbrushes, shampoo and soap, and donate them to a shelter.
  • Read to older people at an assisted living center, or volunteer to lead a game, such as bingo.
  • Work at an animal shelter. Or, collect pet food, old towels and blankets to donate.
  • Collect letters thanking active duty servicemen and servicewomen and send them to an organization that ships packages to troops, such as
  • Organize or participate in a neighborhood clean-up event.
  • Do yard work for a person who is elderly or has a disability.

Establish and maintain positive family connections this summer

Soon your child will have an extended break from his regular routine. With school out for the summer, he will likely spend more time at home.

This is an opportunity for the two of you to spend some quality time together. Here ways to do it:

  • Increase the number of times you eat together as a family. With a looser schedule, your child should be more available—not just to eat with you, but also to help you prepare meals and clean up.
  • Get active. Take advantage of the long, warm, summer evenings. If you and your child like a sport, such as tennis, play together. Or, just walk and enjoy each other’s company—as well as the conversation that happens more naturally at these times.
  • Celebrate the weekend. Summer weekends are precious and few. Never let them go to waste. Encourage your child to make a list of low-cost activities he’d like to do together. Then, schedule time to do them.
  • Plant a summer garden. Involve your child in the planning, planting, watering and harvesting.
  • Make memories. Take photos to record your summer. Spend an evening together making a slide show or putting the photos in an album or scrapbook.

Are you preparing your child for a safe summer?

Summer is prime time for fun and also for taking risks—especially for middle schoolers, who may not always be in sight of an adult. Are you doing all you can to make sure your child is safe over the summer? Answer yes or no to the questions below to find out:

  1. Do you require your child to wear sunscreen when she is outdoors?
  2. Do you insist that your child wear a helmet when on a bike, scooter or skateboard?
  3. Do you make it a point to know where your child is, who she is with and what she is doing? Do you discourage hanging out after dark?
  4. Do you consider your child’s maturity before assigning chores, such as mowing the lawn with a riding lawn mower?
  5. Do you encourage your child to drink plenty of water when working, playing or exercising outdoors in the heat?
How well are you doing?

Mostly yes answers mean you are focused on summer safety. For no answers, try those ideas in the quiz.