Parent-to-parent: Advice for Parents of Middle School Students
Back when we were parents of middle school students, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Now that my kids are grown and flown , I’ve spent some time reflecting on what went right, what went wrong, and what things I wish I had pushed a little harder for beginning with their middle school years.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not at disappointed with how my kids turned out, but I did learn some lessons along the way. If I can help other parents of middle school students (and their tweens and teens) avoid the same hiccups, then I’m happy to help.
Middle School Lessons for Parents
You know how excited kids get when they get their course list and find out who their teachers and classmates will be? Well, I admit, I was just as excited as they were. I was hoping my kids would be in classes with some of their friends and, of course, be open to making new friends.
I was hoping they get great teachers and the transition from elementary school to middle school would be smooth. We all hope for that, right? I mean, what could go wrong in middle school?
Well, for starters, your student gets:
- The right class but the wrong teacher (your kid got the teacher with the reputation as the worst teacher in the school)
- The right teacher but at the wrong time of day (ex: foreign language first thing in the morning may not the best fit for your student)
- The wrong class (the elective or even regular subject your student wanted is filled and has to be taken next semester)
So, as a parents of middle school students, what do you do? Do you do nothing and consider this one of “life’s lessons” where your child has to learn to tough it out no matter what middle school scheduling throws at him?
Or, do you get involved and try to work within the system to change what you can in order to make the school year, and perhaps family life, flow better?
These are tough decisions and, unfortunately, what you don’t know in middle school is how the three things listed above can not only impact course selection in high school but also impact your teen’s options when applying to colleges.
Here’s my advice:
- Read the student handbook and make yourself aware of all the policies related to course changes.
- Know when middle schoolers can take high school level classes and what the course drop/add policy is at your school. (In our school system a middle school student could take a high school level class in 7th grade. Many opted to take Algebra or begin foreign language study. If the student received a poor grade, they had the option to drop the course without penalty and retake it at a later time.)
- Know when final class drop date/schedule change date is at your student’s middle school. Make an appointment to meet with the guidance counselor to discuss what class changes can be made. Know that other parents will be doing the same thing and changes will have been in the make since Day 1, so don’t wait to the last minute. Openings in classes just may not be available.
- Be a tiger mom if you must. Your student is more concerned about the social aspect of middle school — fitting in and not drawing attention to him/herself by having to change the school schedule, especially after classes have started. It’s your role to be their advocate. If your student does not perform well during first period, discuss switching classes to an elective for first period. Don’t risk the chance of poor performance on a required college-prep subject.
- If the teacher situation is serious, try to get other parents to join you and request a meeting with the principal or even the superintendent if working through the channels in your school are not effective. Your parent teacher association may also be a good place to start.
What have you done to help your teen in middle school? What do you wish you had done? Post your comments below or comment on this post on our Facebook page. We look forward to hearing from you.
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