Leaving elementary school and going to middle school is a huge step for your child. In this new environment, they will become more independent and learn to take on more responsibility. At the same time, they will also experience some challenges.
Personal, social, and environmental changes can make it difficult for your child to focus on schoolwork and education. Let’s explore some tips for personal and academic success in middle school to help overcome these obstacles.
4 Common Middle School Challenges
From social interaction to more advanced coursework, it’s easy for kids to feel overwhelmed. Here are four common challenges you may see your child experience as they shift to middle school.
1. New School and Learning Environment
There’s a different classroom and school structure in middle school because the new learning environment is much larger. A student may have a different teacher for every class, and each teacher may have varying expectations.
This can be difficult for kids to adjust to, especially as they need to learn to navigate around the school to their next class and keep track of time to stay on their schedule. Kids will also need to adapt to increased demands as they juggle organizational skills and ensure they have all their required materials for each class.
2. Academic Challenges
New academic expectations, such as independent learning, more homework, and extensive projects, can also be a difficult adjustment. If your child has trouble focusing in class, writing essays and taking notes can be an obstacle and make them feel like they’re falling behind.
With increased academic requirements, there is more pressure on students to use their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, so they may need extra support in making big projects more actionable and manageable.
3. Changing Relationships
As your child moves onto middle school, they enter puberty and face new social expectations. Students entering middle school can experience a change in their relationships with family and friends and even start to discover romantic interests for the first time.
At the same time, kids can also experience feeling lonely and excluded or even deal with bullying as they try to navigate social growth and make new friends. Socializing with new people can be overwhelming for some kids, so it’s essential to encourage them to pursue social clubs and extracurricular activities.
4. Increase in Bullying
Bullying can be more intense in middle school because students go through personal, social, academic, and hormonal changes. Kids struggle to find their identity while developing a sense of independence and trying to fit in. Sometimes kids are easily influenced by other students to join in on bullying to avoid feeling left out.
Some kids bully to avoid being a target themselves. Bullying is most often reported between sixth and eighth grade, and 31% of bullying alone occurs in sixth grade. At these alarming rates, it’s important to know the warning signs to look for to tell if your child experiences bullying.
7 Tips for Middle School Success
While overcoming middle school challenges can be daunting for many kids, there are some things you can do to make their transition easier and help them feel supported. Here are some middle school success tips for students:
1. Offer Help With Studying and Coursework
One of the best middle school tips is encouraging your child to stay on top of their homework to help them stay on track and keep their grades up. You can dedicate one to two hours each night of homework time and create a quiet zone for them to study and finish their assignments without distractions from their phone or TV.
Ask your child which subjects they might struggle with and which they excel at so you can have them devote their time accordingly. Because homework is more intense in middle school, you can sit with your child through their homework time and work through it with them for a few weeks until they get the hang of it and feel ready to tackle it on their own.
2. Visit the School’s Website and Learn the Policies
It’s important to read and review your child’s school rules and policies, student handbook, and other information they provide on their website or pamphlets. Knowing the school policies can help your child succeed and know right from wrong as they transition to a new environment.
Going to the school’s website can also give you staff contact information, the school calendar, and signup sheets for school clubs, sports, and activities. You can also find policies about cheating, bullying, dress codes, attendance, and other important disciplinary procedures and expectations.
3. Get Involved at Your Child’s School
Volunteering at your child’s school can benefit both of you. Knowing you’re there to assist other teachers or chaperone can make them feel more confident to take on the day. However, some kids may also feel a bit embarrassed if their parents help with activities at school. It’s important to ask them how they feel about you getting involved and helping the school community.
You can control how much interaction you have as a volunteer. For example, you can volunteer as a library assistant or accompany the class on school field trips and fundraisers.
4. Listen to Your Child
As your child enters a new world and undergoes personal changes and growth at the same time, it’s important to let them know you’re always there to listen without trying to have all the answers. During middle school, kids are struggling to find their independence, even though they still need your guidance and help.
You can discuss their feelings and ideas about school and extracurricular activities to help them manage stress and learn their expectations and capabilities. Knowing they have you to lean on will help them mitigate their frustration about these new changes.
5. Encourage Extracurricular Activities
While education is the top priority, it’s also just as important that your child pursues their interests through extracurricular activities and social clubs. Whether they want to try out for a sport, join the school theater, or expand their knowledge through the science club, it’s essential to encourage them to get involved.
Keep in mind that your child’s schoolwork is their main focus. However, if they can balance their assignments and a fun after-school activity, it will help them make friends and enjoy middle school more.
6. Prioritize Conferences With Teachers and Counselors
Studies show that kids do better in school when their parents are involved and support their educational success. Like volunteering, it’s important to keep in contact with your child’s teachers through regular parent-teacher conferences. Conferences can tell you how your child is progressing and where they may need to improve.
You should also encourage your child to get to know their school counselor so they can help them through any other needs while taking on middle school challenges. You can request a meeting with your child’s teachers and school counselor to stay informed about their expectations and discuss any special learning or behavioral needs your child may have.
7. Keep an Open Mind
One of the most vital tips for academic success in middle school is to keep an open mind about the needs, abilities, and learning methods of every student. All kids learn and absorb information differently, but traditional schools teach every student using the same structure and timeline. If your child deals with anxiety, executive function, or a learning disability, they can easily feel ostracized in this environment and struggle to keep up with their peers.
One way to combat this is to switch to an online middle school program to help reduce common middle school challenges. With an online program like the one at Commonwealth Charter Academy, your child will experience a customized learning course, extracurricular activities, and access to a team of support through their teachers, school counselors, and coaches. We strive to help all our students achieve a growth mindset to overcome these challenges.
Attend Commonwealth Charter Academy’s Online Middle School Program
Navigating a new school, more schoolwork, peer influences, and bullying in middle school can be overwhelming, causing your child to lose interest in school, social activities, and even their grades. At CCA, we know your child’s mental health and education are most important, which is why we offer an online middle school program.
Our program allows kids to take on independent learning at their own pace with diverse school courses, family-centered education, and a team of teachers ready to collaborate on your child’s success. Visit our website and request more information today to learn how we can accommodate your child’s needs and help them learn to love school again.