Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Perceptions of Middle School Transitions" by Stefanie Moore is a Prezi that offers parents and educators a thorough look at the middle school transition. It will show you student data, as well as teacher data. I was very impressed with her work! ENJOY!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Reality Check

What advice would you give to new middle school parents? Here's more good informationfrom a teacher.

Advice for parents: stay up-to-date with Portal and look at your child's agenda for homework assignments! Some of us have 175+ students daily, and we (unlike elementary teachers) may not realize your child's grade has dropped 2 points! We cannot call you about every single thing like you're used to in elementary school, but it doesn't mean we don't care or won't help out/answer emails/offer help!! Parents still need to be a part of the education process on a daily basis! Your child is NOT going to offer the information! ~Stacy (MS Teacher and mother)

Advice from a Middle School Teacher

This is so true. This is something all middle school teachers wish they could tell you, but never have the opportunity.
Advice to new middle school parents: 1) Middle School teachers do NOT conspire to keep you in the dark regarding your child's education, extracurricular activities, etc. Remember all those notes and letters that came home with your kids in elementary school when teachers/school leaders thought you needed to be informed of something? News flash - MS teachers send those home, too! MS students drop those things right into the trash on the way out the door because they don't feel you "need to know" that stuff - especially information regarding open house (who needs to meet teachers, anyway?), parent-teacher conferences (is an explanation here really necessary?), and detentions. 2) Despite rumors, MS teachers really do LIKE kids - yes, it's true! 3) It is no longer "cool" to eat lunch in the cafeteria with your child. Don't get your feelings hurt when your child doesn't turn flips when you ask if you can have lunch with him/her one day. They still love you, but the ridicule from their peers (they ALL do it) is not worth the 20 min. sharing smiley fries with mom.
The transition from elementary school to middle school is very difficult for parents. The kids adjust well, but parents want things to be the same as they were in the fifth grade. Like Brandi said, they still need you, but they need you in a different way. Just step back, take a deep breath, monitor closely, and be a good sport.

Come up with a system in your home so you have a better chance at getting communication from school. Also, be proactive by checking the school's website for upcoming events. Bookmark teachers' websites and check them regularly. If your school system has an online grading program, monitor your child's grades once a week.

Drama Llama

Drama is NOT a middle school subject, but the preverbial stage is everpresent. This comes as a shock, I know. Middle school boys are not very dramatic, but the girls are competeing for the Oscars. I think some of this is hormonal, but nevertheless, it causes lots of angst in the home.
M is going into 7th grade. My biggest wish as a parent is I truly wish I knew how mean middle school girls can be. I thought it would be high school but nope it is middle school. By the third kid I have realized that girls are just crazy. With R there was never drama with my girls just about everyday!! So and so did not sit with me at lunch..... She has a new BFF and it is not me........ And of course my favorite is so and so has ( insert whatever they want that is of course very pricey) now if I don't get one no one will like me!! LOL
Remember, kids this age are just beginning to find themselves. Who am I outside of my family? is THE big question. Girls are more emotional and tend to define themselves by the company they keep (or don't keep). Tackle each issue as it arises, show her the "other" side of the story, remind her that character means everything. Most of all, remember the bad situation was only half as bad as it seemed to her. 

Avoid calling other mothers. Teach her to work it out to the best of her ability. You will know when it's time to step in, but do so carefully. Remember, they're very young.

TRUE bullying


Bend Like a Willow

This advice is from a parent who became a friend after I taught her son twice, once in the 2nd grade and again in the 5th. She challenged me, supported me, and as you'll be able to tell, her wisdom is amazing!
A new middle school parent should be aware that giving their kid an armor against being defined by anyone or anything other than themselves, will be one of the greatest gifts given. Events will happen to look like game-changing events (e.g., being cut from a sports team and wondering where life goes from there), and though decisions like this one are most certainly going to change the pattern of their life, they are NOT to be defined by the perceived rejection. "Get up. Chase the next great adventure in your life. Best foot forward, always." Teaching a kid at that age (or long before) that they are in control of and accountable for their decisions, their choices, their actions and the outcomes of events surrounding them, is a good way to build up the strength they will need to be a self-assured, strong-minded middle school student. "Bend like a willow or break like an oak." Willows survive the storm because they are strong, yet flexible. Oaks see only one way to get through it - and when the storm is too rough, they break. No more broken kids...let's equip them with the tools they need in order to "bend" in the storm. ~Tara Greene (mother of three adult children)
She's so right! Teach your child to not allow other people to define him/her. Feelings will be hurt because children this age do not have filters. They are all still a work in progress. Your son/daughter's attitude towards a difficult situation can/will make all the difference. Teach your child to BEND!

Confidence in Communication

What advice would you give new middle school parents?

Teach your child to ask their teachers questions. Even if they are your questions. They need to learn now how to communicate with their teachers, not rely on their parents to do it. Was that harsh? ~Lisa Riccardi (Parent of college sophomore and high school freshman)
I should also note that Lisa worked as a substitute teacher in my middle school for a few years, and she hit the nail on the head. Don't send notes to your child's teacher if the child can communicate the question himself/herself. Confidential questions withstanding, I'd much rather listen and answer the child. Truthfully, it's just quicker! Building good communication skills is important, and this is the best place to start.

Lisa later added,
Communication with teachers is a good practice for communication with all adults in the future. 'Teachers' are a good place to start this valuable skill.
Yes! When this generation of young people is constantly looking down at a cell phone screen, you have to be concerned about those face-to face moments. Where else are they going to learn this skill?

Before your child starts middle school...

Right after school ended this year, I was sitting at the ballpark when a friend was rehashing the events of her son's sixth grade year. You know me! I'm a captive audience for such a conversation. Most of it was good, but she mentioned a few hiccups along the way. At one point, she said, "I wish I had known." Well, that got my wheels turning. I do know. I live it. Why can't I help other parents? So, here we are.

Recently, I posed the question to my friends, family members, and former parents. Specifically, I asked these two questions:

  1. What do you wish you'd known before your child started middle school?
  2. What advice would you give to a brand new middle school parent?
In the next few weeks, I'll share their wisdom with you. Also, note the age of the student/adult. Sometimes it helps to read and relate to people who have a similar background. The further away from the middle school years, the parent will bring a different perspective.

As always, thanks for reading!