or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Tips for helping a child prepare for their first year of middle school
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Tips for helping a child prepare for their first year of middle school

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

My DC starts 6th grade in three weeks and I'm posting to see if anyone has some tips on ways to help her prepare and navigate her first weeks of a middle school. Thanks! 

post #2 of 36

I took each of them a few weeks before starting to find all their classrooms, in the order that they had classes. We found their locker, figured out about how much time they had between classes and when they had time to stop at their locker (therefore, figuring out what books they needed to carry with them at any given stretch. Where the cafeteria was in relation to the class before & after, where the restrooms were, etc. 

 

I also did minimal back to school shopping before the start of school. Both for clothes and supplies. We didn't get supply lists prior to the first day, so I pretty well went with a 5 subject notebook, a couple of pens (black and blue) and some pencils (both old-fashioned and mechanical ones). Clothes? Also minimal until the first w/e after school started, when we planned a day to spend shopping, having lunch, etc. As much as being your own person is important, this is an age where kids DO want to fit in, and it can be very uncomfortable being the only kid who doesn't. BTDT. (I was the only girl not allowed to wear pants - let alone *jeans* - to school. Except on Friday (no jeans, though - slacks only). I think she invented Casual Friday.....) So I allowed them the freedom to conform or not. Their choice. 

post #3 of 36

I was going to suggest you line up a good child psychologist now, but maybe that was just us.  wink1.gif

 

Is this her first year with lockers? Her first year with more than one or two teachers?  Help her stay on top of her back pack and paperwork, etc, every night before bed.

 

My kids' first year of middle school was pretty brutal.  The 7th graders (no 6th graders) were sort of dumped into the deep end with no leeway given.  It wasn't just my kids, it was everyone; I talked with other parents who described the same thing. 

 

ANYWAY, you can't prepare your child for that, but you can reassure her that while 7th grade can be tough, you'll be there for comfort and to help figure things out.

post #4 of 36
Thread Starter 

Thanks to you both! 

 

You are both making me even MORE relieved that DC chose a small k-8 for her middle school choice. The alternative was a large fashion/design orientated 6-12 school and I was worried about "fitting in" and some of the overwhelming stuff that goes along with middle school. 

 

DC has a fairly strict uniform for her school (down to the socks and accessories!) and I'm pretty happy about that. I'll look forward to just a few more years before the heavy pressure about clothes that may girls face. 

 

Good reminder about the lockers. Something about the supply list makes me think that maybe they don't have locks...though I'm not sure. I should look into that because I think a well-practiced lock would go a long way to helping DC be comfortable. 

 

What else?  

post #5 of 36

Does she have to dress out for P.E.? Mine started in 6th grade. I made sure they had an option of undergarments whether they needed them or not. DD was still flat as a pancake but I bought her some sports bras which she initially balked at. After the first day, she was wearing them... just because she felt extra naked changing when everyone else had top coverage. DS was happy to have boxer briefs.

 

Middle school language can be rough even in small schools. You might give her a heads up and remind her that the language has nothing to do with her and everything to do with the kids using it.

 

The trouble a lot of kids have in the beginning is with organizing with so many different teachers. Each of my kids had their own style. DS needed some help and a little trial and error to see what worked for him.

 

My kids went/go to 6-8 middle schools but we know several who were really happy in k-8 schools. Some of our local districts are moving to that format on every campus.

 

Good luck! Middle school doesn't have to be terrible. My DD LOVED middle school for reasons that had nothing to do with peers, clothes... any of that stuff. DS tolerates it... certainly loves band and science. Your DD will do great!

post #6 of 36

Does the school offer orientation? My dd1's charter has a half day orientation for all middle schoolers in the morning and high schoolers in the afternoon (it's 6-12). 

 

I know the local public middle school has a pretty nice set up where they really help the 6th graders make the transition.

 

I think the biggest change beyond the new school itself and getting to know people will be organization and remembering which class comes next, etc. Our school suggests a planner for writing down homework assignments. Some schools post them all online (which I would love because Dd1 is very challenged organizationally). I'd see if I could find out how the school approaches organization and maybe get her a planner if that's needed and remind her to write in it!

post #7 of 36

Good point about orientation - I'm pretty sure our MS had one (since my  youngest is a soph in college - it's hard to remember that far back!), but we found going on our own was helpful, too. #2 had an easier time, as her older brother was already there, and could give her tips, the inside scoop as it were. Do you know someone who has a child in the school already, who might be willing to be a kind of point person for any questions she has? Not necessarily to take her under their wing, but just be a go-to. 

post #8 of 36

Let her buy some fun magnets/decorations for the locker.

post #9 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

Does she have to dress out for P.E.? Mine started in 6th grade. I made sure they had an option of undergarments whether they needed them or not. DD was still flat as a pancake but I bought her some sports bras which she initially balked at. After the first day, she was wearing them... just because she felt extra naked changing when everyone else had top coverage. DS was happy to have boxer briefs.

 

Middle school language can be rough even in small schools. You might give her a heads up and remind her that the language has nothing to do with her and everything to do with the kids using it.

 

The trouble a lot of kids have in the beginning is with organizing with so many different teachers. Each of my kids had their own style. DS needed some help and a little trial and error to see what worked for him.

 

My kids went/go to 6-8 middle schools but we know several who were really happy in k-8 schools. Some of our local districts are moving to that format on every campus.

 

Good luck! Middle school doesn't have to be terrible. My DD LOVED middle school for reasons that had nothing to do with peers, clothes... any of that stuff. DS tolerates it... certainly loves band and science. Your DD will do great!

Thanks, WNM.  As far as I can tell they do not change for PE other than for swimming (swimming!!). So, DC will need to get all the way down to her suit in the changing room at the pool. I think that part will be ok for her. She's pretty typical with modesty. 

 

My hope with the organization is that DC will like this part. She's super into organizing her room (no idea where she gets that from). I do agree that it will be trial and error. Especially the homework part. She is coming from an elementary w/o homework. Actually, I do have a question about that. My gut tells me that she should to HW in the kitchen or downstairs with me piddling around. BUT we have a crazy toddler and DC's room is the best set up for HW. If any of your kids do their HW in their rooms, how did that work for them? 

 

When we picked schools for DC we originally ranked K-8 schools lower than schools that started in 6th because DC didn't want to be one of a minority of new kids. But, after shadowing at other schools that started in 6th, I think she started to warm up to the idea of a K-6, maybe feeling comforted by the idea of being around young kids for a bit longer. My DC is way, way small so I think she'll like being around small kids in the halls. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

Does the school offer orientation? My dd1's charter has a half day orientation for all middle schoolers in the morning and high schoolers in the afternoon (it's 6-12). 

 

I know the local public middle school has a pretty nice set up where they really help the 6th graders make the transition.

 

I think the biggest change beyond the new school itself and getting to know people will be organization and remembering which class comes next, etc. Our school suggests a planner for writing down homework assignments. Some schools post them all online (which I would love because Dd1 is very challenged organizationally). I'd see if I could find out how the school approaches organization and maybe get her a planner if that's needed and remind her to write in it!

Yes. They have a day to drop off supplies, see the locker and meet the teacher before school and then an orientation a couple weeks after school starts. I think they do have a planner that we have to purchase along with some other supplies. If not, I will get her a planner for sure - she'd LOVE that anyway. Thanks! 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post

Good point about orientation - I'm pretty sure our MS had one (since my  youngest is a soph in college - it's hard to remember that far back!), but we found going on our own was helpful, too. #2 had an easier time, as her older brother was already there, and could give her tips, the inside scoop as it were. Do you know someone who has a child in the school already, who might be willing to be a kind of point person for any questions she has? Not necessarily to take her under their wing, but just be a go-to. 

We did have a nice dinner last week with two other girls going to the same middle school but I don't personally know anyone who attends. I'd love if we knew an 8th grader so she could know one of the oldest kids. Unfortunately with school starting in about a week and a half, finding someone may not be in our future.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post

Let her buy some fun magnets/decorations for the locker.

Will do - but we're going to wait because I think they do a shared locker and I'm not quite sure how that would work with decorating. Good tip though. The stores sure are tempting with all sorts of locker junk. ;-)  

post #10 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

 Actually, I do have a question about that. My gut tells me that she should to HW in the kitchen or downstairs with me piddling around. BUT we have a crazy toddler and DC's room is the best set up for HW. If any of your kids do their HW in their rooms, how did that work for them? 

 

My kids do their homework where they are comfortable. For DD, that means sprawled out on the floor of her room. For DS that means in a comfy chair in his room with a lap desk. As long as it gets done, I let them dictate the where and when. 

 

It might be helpful to start at the kitchen table if she has limited experience with homework. If she seems organized and independent, letting her move into her room without a distracting sibling might feel right.

post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

 Actually, I do have a question about that. My gut tells me that she should to HW in the kitchen or downstairs with me piddling around. BUT we have a crazy toddler and DC's room is the best set up for HW. If any of your kids do their HW in their rooms, how did that work for them? 

 

 

When they were in the early grades, both dc did their homework at the dining room table. DD is almost finished high school, but that's still her preferred spot. She will work in her room or in the family room or even my bedroom sometimes. She likes to talk about what she is working on, make comments and ask questions. It actually helps keep her on task. I think she finds it too easy to get distracted with her books and other stuff in her bedroom. She has no distracting younger siblings around though. Since he started high school, DS preferred to work in his bedroom. So I'd say that it really depends on the student and what they find disturbs their concentration.  

 

If she isn't used to sitting down to homework, she may need to find a routine that works for her. Some children need a little time to decompress after school and work better if they get some play time first and then focus on homework after dinner. Some children prefer to get the homework done right away and relax for the rest of the evening. She may need to experiment for a bit. 

post #12 of 36

dd just started middle school.

 

here are a few things that my organization challenged dd found useful.

 

- having herself organized before school started. that means getting a binder ready. she is in a regular public school so not sure how that would be different for you guys. she prefered to get a zipper binder and have her subjects colour coded in there. she even put a pencil wallet with her sanitary pads and stuff in her binder. the teachers changed it a little bit. so dd added that into her binder instead of having separate folders.

 

- she is in the process of getting a couple of friends phone numbers in case she misses school. 

 

- somethign really useful was a locker rack as her locker is long - not full size. 

 

dd likes being in the middle of everything to do her hw and then have music or tv on to help her focus. 

 

since her classes starts early it helps to have everything ready the morning before so she basically gets up and goes in the morning. 

 

ETA: we created a space to put all her stuff. everything in a tupperwear box. (mainly coz she has to travel between two houses so that woudl be convenient for us) got colour coded folders to put all her papers in. plan to empty out her school folders twice a week. got plastic paper covers to hold important info like passwords, etc. organized her planner according to her classes and color coded too.

 

i just noticed ur dd too is in an IB program. a parent had warned us that in dd's school, organization is their main goal for 6th grade. it is a very intense program so i want to give dd all the supplies she needs to be organized and do well. i went above and beyond what was required because dd struggles to be organized.

 

and i want this to be a life skill. dd intends to go to college and talks about it. so we really need to get organized for that. 


Edited by meemee - 8/17/13 at 1:23pm
post #13 of 36

If your child has an elective, and hasn't chosen it yet, I strongly suggest she chooses a study hall for the first semester.  Having time in the school day to work on homework, or even get things organized or just relax and turn off her brain, is really helpful for a 6th grader.  At least here, 6th grade is the first year with multiple teachers and subjects.  It can be overwhelming for many kids.  She'll have many other semesters to take a "fun" elective.  Having a study hall can really help take the pressure off of the homework load.  

post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 

Good top, NM, thanks!  DC is so much more relaxed in the past couple of weeks than she was when we made the initial switch to this school. As her current choice school started filling up their slots, it ended up that 5 of DC's elementary classmates are now attending this school. That's WAY more than we expected. We had a nice "back to school" party for all her friends from elementary and they all played so nicely together. Immediately following the party we went over to the new school to check who had homeroom with who to find that the school, much to my surprise, put ALL of my DC's classmates together in one class. That's kind of cool, I think. DC is super excited and I think has moved past the anxiety phase. 

 

Thanks for all the great tips! 

post #15 of 36

I'm glad to hear that her excitement is up and her anxiety is down!  I hope she has a wonderful year.

post #16 of 36

oh one more thing. also figure out the community service aspect. dd is having such a challenge finding something she likes. she wants to do something new she hasnt done before.

 

has she had her first day of school yet? how did the first week go?

 

dd was e x h a u s t e d!!!! school is an hour longer than her elem school. 

post #17 of 36
Thread Starter 

I'm not sure what (if any) community service requirements they have for MS here in our city, though I can see that being a pretty easy choice for DC. We live in an area with just a massive focus on community service. 

 

Thanks for asking about the start of school. I know you're in CA, Meemee and I know from all our Facebook friends that northern CA schools started a ways back. DC started today and she did GREAT this am. I think she felt really prepared. We did the peak at your seat night on Friday so she got into her homeroom, met a few teachers & students and got her locker. Which she remembered the combination of immediately. We got there WAY early today because I know that arriving early helps DC. Then all her elementary school mates arrived, they mingled with new girls (they didn't seem to mingle with the boys, which I guess is a middle school thing?).  

 

The school was very well organized this AM. I liked that the teacher comes out to get them and lines them up - that is a good way for DC to start the day - teacher led, formal, and organized. 

 

So far, so good. 

 

I'll post an update sometime this week. 

post #18 of 36

ICM i think community service is a required part of the IB curriculum.  During the summer hols when we went to fill out the paperwork at school they asked us to start thinking about CS. I think its part of IB’s international curriculum. 

 

Its kind of a pain because i have to be present too. Here in CA they don’t allow independent work till 13. So dd cant volunteer yet at the library as she would have wanted to. 

post #19 of 36
Thread Starter 

Interesting, Meemee. I suppose we'll be hearing about this because this school seems to adhere pretty strictly to the IB curriculum. I'm sure you're right in that there are probably few service opportunities for kids under 12 w/o a parent and then then the kid would need transport (DC doesn't use public yet).  I guess this will be interesting. I look forward to seeing what DC pics. It's always interesting to me when kids have a chance to choose public service because it's cool to see how they differ or are similar to their parents.  :-)  

post #20 of 36
Thread Starter 

I'm happy to report that things are going super well for DC!  She's very happy with the school and the level of work, organizational responsibilities and etc. seem to be a great fit - just the right challenge. She was literally skipping up the steps to do her homework last night - it was so cute!  I'm also happy to say that checking in with her other classmates from elementary, it seems that they are all adjusting exceedingly well. I think all of us were worried about how the more relaxed approach to that K-5 would translate to middle school. It seems that they were all prepared and ready. Thanks for all the great tips! 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Learning at School
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Tips for helping a child prepare for their first year of middle school