So your child is heading into middle school. What a momentous occasion for you and for him! At the back of your mind, however, you might have some concerns about him being successful. It’s true your child needs a solid set of skills for him to do well in middle school, but there are many different activities you can do over the summer to prepare him for the big transition.
Check out 7 easy ways you can prepare your child for the transition to middle school:
- Encourage social development over the summer
- Summer camps, slumber parties, playing outside with neighbors, and sports teams are all avenues for your child to engage with peers over the summer. This way he doesn’t isolate himself, which isn’t healthy. Plus it decreases anxiety about making new friends when your child has the practice of making, being, and keeping friends all summer long.
- Increase responsibilities at home
- Don’t slack off with chores over the summer. Keep him accountable, even extra tasks to emphasize his growing up. Has he just had to make his bed? Great, now add in cleaning dishes or mopping the floor. How will this help him in middle school? Having increasing expectations at home will help him to translate those responsibilities to school.
- Allow room for more independence
- Keeping safety in mind, see where there’s room for your child to be more independent. Perhaps he’s ready to walk the mall with friends but not you near by, or he can play out in the neighborhood with check ins every 30 minutes instead of just 15. An independent child at home is a proactive, productive child that can complete assignments with little-to-no assistance at school.
- Increase choices
- Giving choices gives your child more control, which helps encourage responsibility and independence. These qualities are essential for your middle-schooler to have, and tie into his ability to manage assignments, his workload, and time. Also, giving choices helps fine tune those skills to problem solve, weigh options, and prioritize. Choosing his own clothes or backpack, picking out a meal one day a week, choosing which camp he wants to go to, are all things you can delegate over to him.
- Mandatory reading time
- Not only does reading encourage cognitive growth, it keeps your child in the academic mode. Keeping your child with one eye on the academic part of life will help ease that transition when he has to start hitting the books.
- Keep lines of communication open
- The conversations where your child tells you everything about his day may soon be over. During the middle school age those paragraphs of dialogue he used to say oftentimes get shrunk down into one or two words phrase. This does not mean you should shut down too. Check out this post for how to keep the lines of communication open.
- Address behavioral issues
- Disrespect and defiance that is prevalent more often than not, and aggression that is present at all, will not and should not be tolerated, whether it’s at school or in the home. Seeking out resources for you and your child need to be a top priority. Parenting books or counseling may be avenues you need to explore.
Bottom line: There’s many things you can do to prepare your child for middle school. Take it a day at a time, and an activity at a time. And make sure to enjoy those moments of success and growth, and praise your kid when you see them!
Please comment below: Is your child making that transition into middle school? What are you noticing he needs to work on to get ready and in what ways are you preparing him for the big day?
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.