How to help your child succeed in middle school

  • Offer a nutritious breakfast. Studies show that kids who skip the most important meal of the day don’t learn as well. Encourage them to eat something from each major food group, such as toast with peanut butter, a banana and a glass of milk.
  • Encourage sleep. A minimum of eight hours a day is required, but 9 to 10 hours is preferred during this time of rapid physical and emotional growth and development.
  • Make time for family. Whether it’s dinner together, an outing or a shopping date, be sure to carve out time together.
  • Support homework time. Create a quiet, well-lit spot that encourages good work habits. Be available, so that your child can ask questions. Help establish a routine for getting homework done, put away, and turned in on time.
  • Beware of too many extracurricular activities. When children and their parents spend all day, every day juggling sports, music, dance and clubs, they can easily become burnt out. Sit down with your child and decide on one or two extracurricular activities. Even that will feel like a lot, especially if you have multiple kids.
  • Volunteer at school, if you can. Your child will see and appreciate that you care enough to give your time to his school. For working parents, there are often helpful tasks you can do in the evening at home. Ask your child’s teacher how you can get involved.
  • Attend parent-teacher conferences. Ask questions to help you understand how your child is doing, from your child’s standpoint and the teacher’s.
  • Celebrate your child’s achievements. Display your child’s work, attend school programs, and offer frequent compliments.
  • Make your child’s school aware of any medical conditions. If your child has a medical condition, be sure to talk to the school. If your child requires medications nearby, provide an up-to-date prescription with clear, written instructions. Then show school staff how and when to administer the medication in an emergency. Too often, children do not have medication at school when they need it, or school staff waits too long to give it. In an emergency, minutes matter.
  • Get to know your child’s friends. Ask yourself: Do the friends and families he spends time with share our safety and behavior choices?
  • Ask questions. Know what’s happening in your child’s classes, what projects are due and when, and how your child is getting along with friends. This shows that you care, encourages pride in your child’s school work, and sets the stage for developing study habits and time-management skills.
  • Keep tabs on Internet use. Children can easily get in over their heads in cyberspace. Parent filters can help, but you should also review their user history regularly. Also, keep the computer within eye-shot of your main living space.
  • Teach your child proper cell phone use. Know that cell phones with Internet capabilities do not have parent filters. If you provide a cell phone, set limits and educate your child about inappropriate use and cyber-bullying.
  • Stay connected to your child. Children at this age are finding their social niche, which means they are more likely to try things just to fit in. Know your child’s schedule in detail: where they are, who they’re with, what they’re doing, and when they’ll be back. Talk frequently about your expectations and reasons for wanting your child to make good decisions.

Learn more about school matters for these age groups: