Middle School Parents Newsletter

  • Help your middle schooler remain excited about learning

    Posted by Newsletter on 2/17/2019

    Photo Does your middle schooler have a ho-hum attitude about his classes? To help him get excited about what he’s learning and motivate him to succeed:

    • Let yourself be “wowed.” Do you give off a “been there, done that” vibe when your child tells you about something he’s learning in school? A fact or idea may not be new to you, but if it’s new to your child, show some enthusiasm. “Your science teacher poured liquid nitrogen on a flower and it froze? How cool!”
    • Celebrate small victories. Yes, earning a perfect score on a test is a reason for high-fives all around. But so is a solid B your child worked hard to achieve on a history project. Show him that you notice the effort he’s putting in, and it may motivate him to keep trying his best. Congratulating your child only if he gets A’s may crush his enthusiasm and cause him to think, “Why bother trying at all if only ‘perfect’ matters?”

    Reprinted with permission from the February 2019 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2019 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

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  • Give your child opportunities to make valuable contributions

    Posted by Newsletter on 2/10/2019

    The myth that middle schoolers are lazy is just that: a myth. The truth is that adolescents want to be useful and feel like their contributions matter.

    Help your child find ways to contribute in the community. Not only will it make him feel good about himself, it may help nurture his sense of responsibility toward people around him.

    Your child could:

    • Join a service organization. Whether national or local, service organizations can be perfect places for middle schoolers to make a difference and connect with other students who share similar interests.
    • Be a caring neighbor. Is your older neighbor stuck at home because of a recent snowfall? Have your child grab a shovel and get busy. The same goes for bringing in a sick neighbor’s trash can from the curb. Point out ways your child can take the initiative and pitch in. Responsible actions contribute to the overall well-being of his community.
    • Support a cause. He could collect goods for a local shelter or host a bake sale to raise funds for a charity. Help him do some research and make a plan.
    • Write letters of thanks. Ask your child to write a thank-you note to a firefighter, police officer or person in the military. He’ll learn how nice it feels when one responsible member of society applauds another!

    Reprinted with permission from the February 2019 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2019 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc. Source: E. Medhus, M.D., Raising Everyday Heroes: Parenting Children to Be Self-Reliant, Beyond Words Publishing.

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  • Three steps can help your child read academic material

    Posted by Newsletter on 2/3/2019

    Not all reading is the same. There are many different kinds of reading material, and people also read in different ways depending on what they want to accomplish.

    When middle school students read academic material, they are reading to learn. Here are three steps your child should take while reading an assignment:

    1. Do a “quick read.” This is also called skimming or scanning the text. Your child should pay special attention to pictures, headlines and text in boldface. These can give her an idea of what the material is about.
    2. Read deeply. To make this step most effective, your child should take notes while she reads. She should also write down any words or concepts she doesn’t understand.
    3. Read it more than once. For new or difficult material, your child should go back over it—even after reading deeply. Reading it through once again will improve her comprehension and retention.

    Reprinted with permission from the February 2019 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2019 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

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  • Share strategies to help your child succeed on math tests

    Posted by Newsletter on 1/27/2019

    Math tests can be difficult to prepare for. After all, there aren’t any dates to remember or essays to write. But you can help your middle schooler do his best by sharing a few math test strategies.

    Before the test, your child should:

    • Practice. He can redo homework problems or problems from quizzes. Encourage him to focus on the problems he had trouble understanding or got wrong, and work on them until he is confident he can solve them.
    • Create a “formula sheet.” On one sheet of paper, have him write down all the formulas he needs to know. Then, he can create flash cards to help him memorize each formula.

    During the test, your child should:

    • Write down those formulas as soon as he gets his test. That way, he will be less likely to forget what he has memorized.
    • Read the directions carefully. Remind him that he can lose points for simply forgetting to show his work or circle his answer!
    • Use estimation. If one step in the problem asks him to subtract 32 from 109, he can estimate that the answer should be around 80. So if he gets 17, he should realize that’s incorrect and try again!
    • Take his time. A math test is not a race, so your child shouldn’t feel pressured by how quickly other students finish.
    • Go back and check his work. He should rework any problem he was uncertain about.
    • Look for careless errors. Are all of the decimal points in the right place? Did he remember the negative sign?

    Reprinted with permission from the January 2019 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2019 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

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  • Are you setting your child up for future success?

    Posted by Newsletter on 1/20/2019

    The choices your child makes in middle school can influence his success in high school and beyond. Are you doing all you can to set your child up for success? Answer yes or no to the questions below to find out:

    1. Do you encourage your middle schooler to take the most rigorous classes he can successfully handle each year?
    2. Do you share with your child the importance of reading in middle school and urge him to read often?
    3. Do you encourage your child to watch the news and learn about current affairs to boost his interest and knowledge of civics and history?
    4. Do you encourage your child to take a foreign language? Starting early can give your child a head start for high school.
    5. Have you talked with your child about his interests and how they might translate to a career?

     How well are you doing?

    Mostly yes answers mean you are helping your child focus on the future. For no answers, try those ideas.

    Reprinted with permission from the January 2019 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2019 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

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  • A study system can help your child prepare for chapter tests

    Posted by Newsletter on 1/13/2019

    If your child tends to study by the “seat of her pants” whenever an end-of-chapter test approaches, it’s time to overhaul her habits! Help her develop a system for studying textbook chapters—one she can use anytime a test looms.

    Suggest that your child:

    1. Start by reading the first section of the chapter. She may be tempted to race through and finish the whole thing, but tell her to resist the urge. She’ll remember more if she studies one section at a time.
    2. Imagine what questions her teacher might ask about the material in that section. If she can’t think of any questions, she should read it again.
    3. Write down those questions. Have her jot down each one on a separate index card and write its answer on the back of the card.
    4. Proceed section by section. If one section is particularly long or tricky, or if she can think of several questions the teacher may ask about it, suggest she break that section into smaller parts.
    5. Identify new vocabulary words. After she’s made her “question cards” for each section, have her go back through the chapter and look for unfamiliar words and words in boldface. She should write each one on the front of an index card and its definition on the back.

    Once your child has a chapter’s worth of information-packed cards, she can use them to study for the test. Better yet, you can use them to quiz her!

    Reprinted with permission from the January 2019 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2019 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

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  • Help your middle schooler make learning resolutions

    Posted by Newsletter on 1/6/2019

    Student

    New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for adults! Middle schoolers can benefit from them, too. Encourage your child to come up with a few school-related resolutions. If he’s not sure where to start, suggest he make resolutions regarding:

    • Projects. If your child typically puts off big assignments until the last moment, get him to turn over a new leaf. The next time a project or research paper looms, he should break it into small parts and tackle one bit at a time.
    • Homework. If your child’s study habits are haphazard, he can refine them. Instead of hitting the books “whenever and wherever,” help him designate a work area. Review his after-school schedule and have him set a regular time for studying.
    • Writing. If your child groans when he has to write something for school, challenge him to strengthen his writing skills. Writing in a journal for a few minutes every day will help him do just that.
    • Reading. If your child doesn’t like to read for pleasure, help him set reading goals. Start small. Perhaps he can read for 15 minutes every night before going to bed.
    • Extracurricular activities. If your child signs up for every activity that comes his way, he may be spreading himself too thin. Have him think about which activities can stay and which should go. And remember: School comes first. No activity—regardless of how much he enjoys it—should be allowed to interfere with academics.

    Reprinted with permission from the January 2019 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (Middle School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2019 The Parent Institute®, a division of PaperClip Media, Inc.

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  • Sitting still during homework time can be challenging for kids

    Posted by Newsletter on 12/30/2018

    If your child can’t seem to sit still during homework time, it’s probably because he can’t! And if he can’t seem to stop snacking, it’s probably because he needs that food.

    Your middle schooler is entering adolescence. And this marks the biggest period of physical change he has experienced since infancy.

    Middle schoolers often:

    • Get up out of their chairs. As adolescents grow, their bones (including their tailbones) begin to harden. Sitting too long can cause nerve pain. Getting up is a natural defense against that discomfort. Your child may want to try doing some of his homework standing up. Or he could study vocabulary words as he walks around the house.
    • Fidget. Even if they manage to stay seated, middle schoolers spend lots of time fidgeting. In adolescence, bone growth outpaces muscle growth, meaning kids’ muscles are constantly being tugged and pulled. This causes so-called “growing pains.” Stretching can help relieve them, so encourage regular stretch breaks during homework time.
    • Raid the refrigerator. It’s not just kids’ bones and muscles that are growing. Their stomachs are, too—and it takes more food to fill them. Not only that, but all that physical growth requires serious amounts of fuel. Stock up on healthy snacks and let your child munch while he’s studying.

    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. Source: P. Lorain, “Squirming Comes Naturally to Middle School Students,” National Education Association, niswc.com/mid_squirm.

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  • 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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