How Do You Prepare a Middle Schooler for High School?
What does your middle schooler need to know?
How do you deal with sibling growing pains?
How do you motivate your middle schooler?
Tune in this week while we discuss these topics and more!
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Coming soon Middle School Guide:
In Development: We are creating a step-by-step guide that will prepare your middle schooler for high school. It will feature secular curriculum and book lists suggestions, core subjects, mastery skills, logic/critical thinking, technology skills and foreign language. It’s going to have specific supplemental resources and electives. We are putting a lot of effort and energy into this guide so stay tuned for this awesome resource!
We’d like to thank one of our listeners for inspiring this episode. We are always asking listeners to send in any questions or topic ideas and Melissa from Minnesota submitted a couple questions for a Q&A that we thought were so great, we would do an entire episode on it! So, thank you Melissa!
We talk a lot about high school since we both have high schoolers and because we are putting together this awesome high school series- be sure to check it out if you haven’t already. And we also talk a lot about homeschooling early elementary kids or getting started, but what about these middle schoolers? Middle school is a time when kids are figuring out who they are and what they want to do with their lives. It’s important to give them the opportunity to explore different interests and try new things. But it’s also crucial to make sure they’re staying on track academically. This means focusing on the academic, social, and emotional aspects of transitioning into this next phase
There are several ways that high school differs from middle school, like increased responsibilities, more course options and extracurricular activities. The workload and expectations are going to be higher and the content more difficult so let’s explore some ways to prepare your middle schoolers for what’s to come.
What does your middle schooler need to know?
BUILD COMPUTER AND TECHNICAL SKILLS
Encourage your students to develop technological and writing skills. This is going to help make them better prepared for high school and beyond or competitive in the job market. Skills like typing, Google slides or PowerPoint, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and various versions of computer skills.
Free courses are often available through most library systems, and there are a lot of basic step-by-step guides on YouTube. It’s also important to teach online etiquette.
I’m also a huge fan of teaching basic programming. We loved learning with Scratch, which is a free software teaching, basic programming created by MIT:
Another thing we loved was Lego WEDO which teaches basic programming:
IMPROVE WRITING SKILLS
To help them gradually, throughout middle school, assign more writing assignments of different styles and lengths. Things like product reviews are a great way to make writing fun for kids. Maybe they could start a blog or newsletter. They could also have a GoodReads account and do book reviews. Writing prompt books and journaling are also great ways to get more writing in.
Fine-Tune those Writing Skills with this Scholastic Writing Book (includes promts):
TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS FOR TEENS
As your teenager progress through high school, the demands on their time will steadily increase. To help them navigate this transition and avoid feeling overwhelmed, it’s crucial to instill effective time management skills early on. These skills are not innate; they need to be learned, and as a parent, you play a pivotal role in guiding your children toward success.
You can start by allowing them to set their own wake-up times in the morning. This small step encourages personal responsibility and time management from the outset. Additionally, establishing quiet hours for late-night or early-morning activities can ensure your teens get the essential sleep they often underestimate. A simple alarm clock like this one can help a lot:
Many parents choose to regulate online screen time to maintain a balance. It’s important to hold your children accountable for completing their tasks and meeting their goals. If they’re struggling, don’t hesitate to intervene and provide the structure they might still be learning to create for themselves. Remember, it’s about nurturing their independence while offering assistance when necessary.
Empower your kids by letting them select an organizational planner that suits their style. You can certainly model your preferred method, but ultimately, what works best for them is what matters most.
For instance, in my household, I didn’t allow my middle schoolers to have their phones at night, so I provided them with basic alarm clocks to take charge of their morning routines. These foundational time management skills will not only benefit their academic journey but also set them apart in college and future careers.
Consider these practical tips:
- Encourage your children to take responsibility for their education by organizing their day and week efficiently.
- Teach them how to budget their time, a skill akin to managing finances, as they prioritize their tasks and commitments.
- Foster independent time management, allowing them to learn from their mistakes within the supportive environment of your home before they face the academic pressures of high school.
To further assist in this process, here are some scheduling and planning apps that we have found useful and recommend:
- Trello: An effective productivity tool that works exceptionally well for middle school management.
- Cozi: A family management app that aids in organizing household activities and schedules.
- Time Finder (available on the Apple App Market): A block scheduling app to help structure and allocate time efficiently.
By the middle school years, kids are starting to find different things that they are interested in or love participating in. Encourage these passions! These differing outside interests they have not only rounds them out as humans, but will help when it’s time to select electives in high school. Find a healthy balance of encouraging them to try new things but also keeping balance with academics.
TEACHING TEENS LIFE SKILLS
Now is the time to focus some of your time on teaching life skills, things they’ll need to know to be successful in life.
You can make cooking a school elective!
Life skills like:
- how to do their laundry
- money management
- car care
- pet care/training
Once high school starts, time gets filled quickly with increased school demands, jobs, friends, and extracurricular activities. It’s not that there won’t be time to teach these things, but your time will be limited, so it makes sense to work on the skills your child will need to be independent now while you have the opportunity.
You can even make Auto Upkeep an elective Credit Course:
Health, fitness, and Sex Ed are crucial components of a well-rounded education. Be sure to include these important subjects as they begin to enter puberty.
PROMOTE GOOD STUDY HABITS
Learn about Planner Strategies that will set your child up for success.
Working with your middle schooler to develop good study habits and time management skills can proactively help them handle more difficult coursework and increased workload. This can keep them from feeling overwhelmed. Learn more about creating a routine that works for your family.
ENCOURAGE STUDY SKILLS AND NOTE-TAKING. Even if they are not college bound, students will benefit from note-taking skills. Note-taking really cannot be taught as much as learned by experience and everyone has their own methods for this. Think about what worked for you and start there.
Organize with Homeschool Planet Planner on Homeschool Buyers Club. Extensive customization lets you organize your home and homeschool the way YOU want:
TEACH TEST-TAKING STRATEGIES.
Even if they are going straight into a career, there may be certifications or skill assessment tests to face. Taking a test is much easier if a student knows how to prepare for it and how to approach it. Give them exposure to multiple choice questions. Talk about how to eliminate the unlikely answers. For comprehension questions, have them skim over the questions before they read the material. There are all kinds of test preparation courses available to students in book form, online, etc. Khan Academy is one place that offers free test prep. You can also find free test prep at your library. YouTube is also a great place.
USE CURRICULA WITH LOTS OF HANDS-ON ACTIVITIES.
Not so different from when they were younger, studies show that middle school-aged students learn much better by exploring and asking questions. So try choosing methods of teaching that involve drawing maps, building models, and doing handicrafts.
Find a science curriculum that offers several experiments. Encourage play with circuits and legos and other small muscle movements. Explore coding programs, visit museums and interactive exhibits.
ENCOURAGE INDEPENDENT LEARNING.
As your child enters high school, you want to be sure they are prepared to continue learning as challenge levels increase. You also want to ensure they can apply that knowledge to their performance in the real world. You really want to encourage your child to become an independent learner.
One great way to foster this ability is to continue to encourage them to read independently, and to discover where their interests lie. Students that are encouraged to read for fun and follow their passions soon develop the self-motivation to keep that learning going, and naturally begin to push themselves to learn more. This sense of personal responsibility for their learning and education will help them as their workload increases and studies get more difficult.
EXPOSE THEM TO GOOD BOOKS.
Continue to choose great books that build grammar and vocabulary. Doing read-alouds as a family as well as individual reading enables students to hear and see great grammar and language. If you find that your child still struggles with grammar and vocabulary skills, middle school is the perfect time to strengthen them.
GIVE THEM TIME.
Don’t over schedule your middle schoolers. Try to limit online time. Let them have lots of time to explore, ask questions, experiment, fail, switch things around, and try again.
How do you deal with sibling growing pains?
Something you may start noticing with middle schoolers is that at this age they may be feeling like they are outgrowing some of the things that their younger siblings are into. They may view some of those things as “babyish” and may become resistant to participating in activities or other things that they used to enjoy.
This is all normal and how tween/teens establish themselves as separate people with distinct likes and dislikes. Conflict with siblings is normal and all part of their developmental journey towards independence and autonomy. How siblings work through their conflicts is going to shape the way they feel about and relate to each other. Learn more about balancing multi-age children.
Focusing some energy on finding age-appropriate activities that you can take your older child to that doesn’t include the younger siblings, or allowing your older child to skip out on activities- staying home alone or being dropped off at a nearby coffee shop is a great way to encourage independence and respect the need for different activities within the family.
Teenagers choose their friends based on similar likes and interests – but they can’t choose their siblings. They might feel they don’t have much in common with them (apart from the same genes). This is where you can focus on the things they DO have in common. Family game night, fun activities or places/things they like to see or do together.
We want to prepare our kids to be world citizens and think beyond themselves. Teen/tweens can be naturally selfish beings. We want to encourage them to be kind and have empathy towards others, family and strangers. Volunteering is a great way to do this, but also just talking about current events, reading about different people and places, and exposing them to a wide range of ideas.
How do you motivate your middle schooler?
Motivation can be tricky. First and foremost, your child must understand the importance of doing well themselves, for themselves. Motivation can’t be forced and if you try to force your child to be motivated it almost always will backfire.
Effort and Quality
Remind them that it’s not grades that matter but effort and quality of work. Encourage them to keep learning and growing and progressing. Giving your students tangible “adult tasks” to handle on their own can help motivate them.
Fostering a growth mindset will enhance their motivation and also develop skills that will help with self-regulation.
Let them be a big part of goal setting. Helping your middle schooler establish manageable goals, along with strategies for steps necessary to achieve them can deliver fantastic results.
Stay Positive and Communicate Openly
Make sure that you stay positive with your language and communicate with your middle schooler. Keep a relationship with your child that is open, respectful and positive. Middle schoolers are going through a lot of changes with their bodies and their outlook. It is essential that we create a welcoming environment for them to be themselves. When they feel like they are in a safe space to make mistakes and grow it will enable them to learn and be motivated.
Foster Healthy Relationships
We want to focus on healthy relationships, not just us, but others as well. We often focus on the new friendships and relationships our children will find and develop as they leave middle school ages and enter high school. These relationships will bolster their sense of self and social compass as they grow and develop. Talk to your kids about the importance of quality over quantity, friend versus acquaintances. Students should also be encouraged to develop relationships with their coaches or outside instructors and mentors, as well.
Developing good communication skills will also allow them to stay aware of their progress and get a good idea of how they can improve in their studies or other activities.
Another thing that helps to motivate is to encourage them to keep their own records or memories or schoolwork samples and teach them how to build a portfolio or scrapbook or journal. Celebration their accomplishments. These are things that can show progress and help with long term goals.