Middle School Parents Newsletter

  • A positive attitude is the key to success in and out of school

    Posted by Newsletter on 12/16/2018

    A positive attitude can motivate your child to put in the effort she needs in order to succeed— and can keep her going even when she feels like giving up.

    To foster a positive attitude in your middle schooler:

    • Tell her to focus on the things she can change. A negative attitude often results from feeling helpless. For example, your child probably can’t change the material in her classes. If that were her goal, she would feel helpless and negative. But she can change how much she prepares. That can lead to success and a positive feeling of empowerment.
    • Encourage her to think of others. It’s amazing how doing something good for another person can lift a person out of a bad mood. In this season of giving, challenge your child to bring a smile to someone else’s face.
    • Ask her to keep a positivity journal. In it, she can write about things that bring her happiness.

    Reprinted with permission from the December 2018 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2018 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

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  • Questions & Answers

    Posted by Newsletter on 12/9/2018

    Q: I know that attendance is important, but we’re traveling over the holidays, and my seventh grader will miss a week of school. How can I keep him from falling behind?

    A: First, take a look at your itinerary. Is it possible to alter your plans so your trip falls within the school’s break? That’s the only way to ensure your child won’t miss out on important learning.

    If your travel dates are written in stone, though, here are three things you can do to help your middle schooler stay on top of things:

    1. Talk to his teachers. Well in advance, explain the situation to each of them. If they’re planning to assign readings or worksheets right after break, see if your child can get started now. Find out which teachers maintain updated classroom websites, and see if your child can follow each day’s lesson from afar. But keep in mind: Teachers are under no obligation to adjust to your vacation schedule.
    2. Focus on learning while you are away. Look at your trip as a learning opportunity. Explore museums and cultural or historical attractions and discuss them as a family. Try to immerse your child in educational activities he might not get at home.
    3. Set aside time for reading and writing. Even if your child has no official work to complete while he’s away, insist he read for pleasure and write about his trip in a notebook. A vacation from school should not be a vacation from learning!

    Reprinted with permission from the December 2018 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2018 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

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  • Five reasons middle schoolers should make time for reading

    Posted by Newsletter on 12/2/2018

    photo of a smiling student

    Middle schoolers typically spend more time on homework than they did when they were in elementary school. With the increased workload, reading for pleasure may be pretty far down on their list of priorities.

    Your child may think that she reads a lot for school and that should be enough. She’s wrong! Here are five reasons your middle schooler should make time for pleasure reading:

    1. Reading can make her an expert. Reading is the best way for your child to learn as much as possible about her areas of interest.
    2. Reading can take her places. Few people can afford to travel every place they’d like to go. But your child can always travel through a book. And she can gain knowledge to help her set goals to get there in person someday.
    3. Reading can make her laugh. Appreciating the humor in books helps your child develop thinking skills. It also improves her own sense of humor.
    4. Reading can turn her into a detective. A winter day on break is a perfect time for your child to grab a cup of hot chocolate and dive into a great mystery.
    5. Reading can introduce her to people like herself. In books that feature characters her age, your child is likely to encounter people that think the way she does and have the same issues she is facing.

    Reprinted with permission from the December 2018 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2018 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

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  • Unsupervised time can lead to trouble for middle schoolers

    Posted by Newsletter on 11/25/2018

    Some parents think their middle schoolers don’t need to be supervised after school. But studies show that kids with too much time on their hands may be at higher risk of substance abuse.

    One study found that eighth graders who were unsupervised for 11 hours a week were twice as likely to use drugs and alcohol as those under some form of adult supervision.

    Where can working parents find after-school supervision for their kids? Here are some suggestions:

    • Volunteer work. Your child can gain job skills while making the world a better place. Visit communityservice.org for ideas.
    • School activities. Whether your child stays after school for band, sports or a club, he will be involved in a positive activity.
    • Community centers. Check out programs for preteens.
    • Youth organizations. Scouting, 4-H and many other student organizations have programs designed specifically for middle school students.
    • Neighbors. Perhaps a neighbor or relative who is home during the day would be willing to look after your child for a few hours.

    Reprinted with permission from the November 2018 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2018 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc. Source: “Keeping Kids Safe and Supported in the Hours After School,” MetLife Foundation Afterschool Alert, Afterschool Alliance, niswc.com/after_school.

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  • Simple activities can reinforce your child’s academic skills

    Posted by Newsletter on 11/18/2018

    Learning doesn’t happen only in a classroom. You can reinforce your middle schooler’s academic skills right at home. Here’s how:

    • Have conversations with your child about everything—and really listen to what she has to say.
    • Ask about what your child is doing in her classes. Find out about her perspective on school.
    • Have your child teach you. Find out what she is studying and ask her to explain it to you. By “retelling” the things she’s learning, she reinforces those things in her own mind.
    • Help your child engage in critical thinking. Discuss the similarities and differences between her classes. Ask for her advice when you are facing a problem at work.
    • Give your child meaningful responsibilities. If you have a pet, ask her to help with its care. Teach her how to prepare simple meals, do laundry and other chores to help the family.
    • Respect your child’s ability. Let her use her knowledge and skills to help you. The next time your phone starts giving you trouble, hand it to her and see if she can figure out a solution.
    • Expose your child to new things. Every meaningful experience your child has—from a zoo visit to a museum trip—has an impact on her learning. On your next outing, ask her how what she sees relates to what she is learning in school.

    Reprinted with permission from the November 2018 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2018 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

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  • Middle schoolers like to have a sense of control over homework

    Posted by Newsletter on 11/11/2018

    You might have a difficult time finding a middle school student who loves doing homework. But you can help your child develop a positive attitude about it. The key is to give her a feeling of control.

    Research shows that middle school students have definite preferences about homework. They would rather:

    • Do homework somewhere besides home.
    • Do homework when their peers are around.
    • Have their parents be less involved with their homework.

    So what can you do to support your child? You can:

    • Check your child’s achievement at school. Is she doing fairly well? If so, consider allowing her to choose where she completes homework, within reason.
    • Let your child try studying with a friend. Offer to host the study session so you can supervise.
    • Provide encouragement. Say things like, “I see you working hard on your homework. I know your hard work will pay off!”

    Reprinted with permission from the November 2018 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2018 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc. Source: H.Z. Kackar and others, “Age and gender differences in adolescents’ homework experiences,” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Elsevier.

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  • Three strategies can help your child become a better writer

    Posted by Newsletter on 10/31/2018

    Not every student is a born writer. But students who write well tend to do better in middle school than students who don’t.

    photo of a smiling student

    To help your child improve her writing, have her:

    1. Read it aloud. After she completes a writing assignment for class, ask your child to read it to you (or quietly to herself). Suggest she mark any clunky or ungrammatical passages as she reads.
    2. Revise it. Even a good draft can almost always be improved with careful editing. So have your child go back through her work to see where it can be tightened up, expanded or clarified.
    3. Ask for help. If her work still seems a little flat or weak, suggest that your child ask her teacher to recommend a reputable writing website. Together, explore its ideas for strengthening writing. Beyond that, remind your child that one of the best ways to become a stronger writer is simply to read. The more she surrounds herself with words, the more examples she’ll see of solid writing. And that will surely help when it’s time for her to put pen to paper.

    Reprinted with permission from the November 2018 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2018 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

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