Fall season has arrived, with in the blink of an eye the new school season is here. The obstacles of overcoming the transition of starting a new school year can be overwhelming to a child. Let’s face it entering middle school can create fear that can cause stress and anxiety. At this point a child just mastered the process of navigating and conquering elementary school. When instantly they must move on to face new beginnings filled with obstacles of learning a new school, making new friends, navigating through a schedule of multiple classes, and conquering that all so cool locker.
As a parent of children in different age groups I have come to realize many things. The lifestyle for children now is not comparable to when I was a child growing up. Today kids schedules are complexed with multiple sports or activities. A child goes from elementary where they are sheltered, spend the school year attending multiple fun filled field trips, have one class that they can call their home throughout the year. Then being thrown into middle school where they are expected to suddenly maneuver and manage multiple teachers, classrooms, daily multiple assignments, make new friends, and learn a new building.
I had to learn that hard way. Taking a couple of steps back and easing up on the helicopter parenting was hard. But it was the healthiest way to best prepare my children on how to cope, manage, and learn how to take ownership of their new challenges. It was the only way to show them how to juggle their responsibilities as they became older.
Here are some tips to help ease the obstacles of entering middle school;
- The Layout: Most schools provide a map prior to the beginning of the new school year. Some schools take it to another level by having a visiting day for the incoming class to help them become acquainted with the school. Take time to discuss the layout and help your child walk through their classes. Talk about the layout of the school. Help your child plan their routes from one classroom to the next.
- The Infamous Locker: Finally reaching locker status is a huge milestone for a child. But the reality is that the simple function of opening a locker sometimes isn’t an easy task. Some schools provide lockers with built in combinations while others allow you to bring your own lock. Take time to go over the easy steps on opening and closing a locker. Have them work on ways to remember the combination code
- A Planner: Some schools PTA groups provide their student with a school planner. If your school doesn’t supply one, pick one up for your child. Help your child set up the planner. Teach them ways to create deadlines, how to keep track of classroom assignments, and daily homework assignments. Encourage them to use it throughout their day to help them stay organized. Teaching a child to prioritize their schedule by creating an Important List, Must Do List, and a Less Important List. Go over the planner with your child each night to help them pre-plan for the next day and help them say ahead of assignments.
- Locker Organization: Purchase items that will help create an organized environment for your child in school. A unorganized and cluttered locker will only create chaos and confused situations. Shelves, hooks, and hanging organizers can alleviate the clutter and keep your Childs locket organized.
- Create a Homework Area: Create and designate an area where your child can store and organize school items at home. This area can also serve as a “Homework Zone” where you child can consistently complete assignments and projects. This is an area where you can store extra school supplies or hang a bulletin board with reminders or completed projects to showcase. This area can be a safe zone for upcoming projects where they can be stored without any damage.
- Post Its: A simple post it note can help your child to remember important must do’s they can easily hang them in the locker or in their room.
- Prepare: It only takes a few minutes each night to have your child organize their backpack with books and items needed for the next day. Something so simple like selecting their outfit the night before can ease mornings. This will help them also not forget anything that may be important for the day.
- Weekends: Let’s face it, weekend homework isn’t fun for anyone especially when your trying to encourage your child to complete it. Trying to juggle family time, sports, and homework on a weekend can be overwhelming. Based on personal experience I have created a specific time when depending on the weekends activities all homework assignments need to be completed on Friday nights or Saturdays. For my children Sundays are a day to mentally unwind. Look at your families weekend schedule and try to create a consistent block in the schedule where any assignments can be completed. This will allow your Sunday nights to be stress free and provide the time for your children to just be kids.
- Praise: Running on time or maintaining a schedule can be difficult for an adult. This is a new task for children and it can be overwhelming. Offering praise and acknowledging their efforts is important to keep their self esteem up. Praise them for the little things, because they will go a long way.
- Open Communication with Teachers: I have to admit that when I first reached out to my Childs teacher via email I was a little scared of the reaction I might receive. The reality is that the classroom sizes are large and the teacher might not detect a behavior pattern or issue that your child may be going through. You are the best person to acknowledge a situation and address it. You would be surprised on the response of a teacher thanking you for pointing out a situation. It is important to remain a team with the teachers to ensure that your child is receiving all the assistance that they need.
- Rest: All humans can function of different amounts of sleep. But the reality is that if your child is tired they are not going to retain as much information as if they would if they had a good nights rest. I wish the DVR or On Demand was around when I was growing up. I can remember trying to convince my parents to let me stay up to watch my favorite show or a music awards show. Creating a consistent pattern of sleep is important to maintain an alert child at school.