A Parent Guide to Middle School By Jill Friesen
“The most important teachers one ever has are one’s parents.” -John H. Lounsbury What should Parents do to help the transition to Middle School?
Parents Should: • Give your child manageable tasks to aid in organizational skills and responsibility • Encourage your child to try new things, keeping in mind that failure is part of learning and growing. • Learn for yourself what young adolescents need and are worried about as they transition • Help your child turn his/her anxieties into positive action, like learning about school schedules, layout, procedures, and ways to get help, like guidance counseling
Parents Should: • Stay involved! Your child needs you to attend school functions and be aware of what is going on with your child in school • Support your child’s efforts to become independent • Maintain strong, healthy connections with young adolescents • Be aware of depression and anxiety signs and seek help. *This list is courtesy of the Association for Middle Level Education (www.amle.org/)
What You Need to Know About the Middle School Program
What You Need To Know • Middle Schools are set up in teams, in order to promote better relationships between students, parents, and teachers. It gives more of a sense of belonging and family within the school. A better climate for learning increases student achievement, attitudes, and impact. • Middle School classes are different from high school classes, and not just in level of material. Middle school classes are developmentally appropriate, using learning processes and curriculum that are specifically made for young adolescents. • “Students today do not learn like students 50 years ago, much less like how the majority of the current teachers and other adults have been taught.
Other Useful Information About the Middle School Program
Other Useful Information • We offer a variety of guidance services and other support for students to offer assistance in negotiating their lives both in and out of school. This is for learning difficulties, social adjustments, health problems, scheduling, etc. Please encourage your children to use this help to them! • The staff at this school is committed to and knowledgeable about working with this age group specifically. • The curriculum is meant to be challenging, exploratory, integrative, and relevant as well as taught with variedand active approaches.
Critical Knowledge Characteristics of Young Adolescents
Physical Characteristics of Young Adolescents • Children develop and go through puberty at different rates they should not be compared to their peers because they are each individual in this. Growth may be rapid and irregular, and this can cause a lot of self-consciousness. • They need daily physical activity in order to use increased energy and keep up their fitness levels. • They have a strong need for healthy eating and healthy habits, however are more apt to choose poor foods, drugs, and high-risk behaviors. • They have a heightened sexual awareness and need for accurate and comprehensive education about it.
Social and Emotional Characteristics of Young Adolescents • They are preoccupied with finding their identity. “The middle school is the finding place; for young adolescents, by nature, are adventuresome, curious explorers (AMLE, 2010). • They relate more and more to their peers and less to their families. They are often obsessed with their social development. • Their self-esteem may fluctuate widely, but is necessary to a healthy self-concept and success in life. • At this age, they think their problems are unique to themselves- they think no one else, especially adults can understand what they are going through. • They often experience hormonal mood swings. • They are very vulnerable to the media and world around them as they are developing their beliefs, attitudes, and values –they need to be reminded that beauty, money, fame, and power are not everything. • You may see an increase in harassment and bullying. There is a higher tendency for this in middle school than elementary or high school.
Intellectual and Moral Characteristics of Young Adolescents • They have an increased ability for abstract thought, rather than just concrete thought. They can think about thinking. • They face many important decisions that require sophisticated thinking and social-emotional skills. • They are more capable of understanding and comparing their personal abilities. • They are very observative of adults, and still rely on them largely for advice, spiritual growth and values, though also challenging their authority. • They can be very idealistic, thinking change can happen much more quickly and easily than it usually does. • They can and want to be involved in democratic experiences. • They are quick to see flaws in others, but slow to acknowledge their own.
Suggestions for working with your child How to better understand your Child
Suggestions for Working with Young Adolescents • Although your child is maturing and needing more responsibility and involvement in their education, choices, and future goals, you as parents are still in charge. They need boundaries, support, and good relations with you to learn from and with. • Work on correcting inappropriate behaviors at non-volatile moments, helping them to see things from the other persons’ perspective. • Help them to think through the consequences of their words and actions, guiding the decision making process, but letting them think it through for themselves. • Encourage and model healthy life-style habits and moral behaviors. • Encourage exploration of different extracurricular skills and activities, but remind them that they won’t be perfect at everything they do, but that doesn’t mean they have to quit.
Suggestions for Working with Young Adolescents • Help your child get and stay organized. Besides being forgetful, many children of this age range struggle to keep track of their stuff, school work in particular. This is a life skill that we need to work together to help them learn. • Rather than have an obsolete “sex talk” or other obsolete and awkward conversations regarding moral and spiritual behavior, try to have natural and relevant conversations as you and your child see them happen. For example, watch a movie with your child, and discuss afterwards the consequences of behaviors seen. Keep up conversation about relationships throughout their lives on a day to day basis, so that when they are in situations they can react appropriately.
Closing Thoughts “No other age level is of more importance to the future of individuals, and, literally, to that of society… having left these formative years, individuals change very, very little in significant ways in values and standards” –John H. Lounsbury The interests, values, beliefs, practices- much of the identity formed in middle school continues with them for the rest of their lives. This is a very impactful age.
Parent Resources References
Parent Resources • 50 Ways Parents Can Help Schools: http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/envrnmnt/famncomm/pa1lk20.htm • Parent/Family/Community/School Connections: A list of many websites that offer information on ways to help and how family and community involvement makes such a huge impact on education. http://www.ithaca.edu/wise/parents/ • The Association for Middle Level Education [AMLE] Website: www.amle.org/ • http://www.pbs.org/parents/ • http://www.nutrition.gov/life-stages/adolescents/tweens-and-teens • http://parentingteens.about.com/od/familylife/u/teenissues.htm
References • The Association for Middle Level Education [AMLE]. (2002, March 1). Supporting students in their transition to middle school. Retrieved from http://www.amle.org/AboutAMLE/PositionStatements/TransitioningStudents/tabid/283/Default.aspx • AMLE. (2010). This we believe: Keys to educating young adolescents. Westerville, OH: National Middle School Association/ the Association for Middle Level Education. • Friesen, J. (2012, July 10). Friesen: Social and emotional development. [Discussion group posting]. Retrieved from the Walden University EDUC 6510M-2 Discussion group: https://class.waldenu.edu/ • Lounsbury, J. (Retrieved 2012, June/July). Understanding and appreciating the wonder years. Retrieved from the AMLE website: http://www.amle.org/moya/PlanYourCelebration/PRResources/WonderYears/tabid/1198/Default.aspx
References • National Education Association (2008). Parent, family, community involvement in education. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB11_ParentInvolvement08.pdf • Reeser, P. (2012, July 16). Reeser Week 4. [Discussion group posting]. Retrieved from the Walden University EDUC 6510M-2 Discussion group: https://class.waldenu.edu/ • Thornton, M. (2012, July 25). Re: Week 5 Discussion 1. [Discussion group posting]. Retrieved from the Walden University EDUC 6510M-2 Discussion group: https://class.waldenu.edu/ • Witmer, D. (n.d.). How to parent today’s teen. Retrieved from http://parentingteens.about.com/od/familylife/u/teenissues.htm