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Academic Skills Your Tween Needs Now

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Middle school is a chance for students to develop the academic skills they'll need for high school and beyond. Now that your child is older and hopefully, a little more mature, he or she should be taking on more school responsibilities. If your child is in middle school, or is heading off to middle school in the near future, be sure these academic skills are mastered long before that first day of high school.

Academic Skills Tweens Need to Master

  • Keeping Up with Assignments: When your child was in elementary school the teacher probably emailed assignments to you or had your child write them down in an agenda so that you knew what the assignments were and could help your child get through them. In middle school, however, your child needs to keep up with assignments, keep track of them and if he misses school, find out what his assignments are. In other words, it's now your child's job to know about his assignments and to develop a strategy for keeping track of them, either by writing them down in an agenda or knowing where to access assignments online on the school's website.
  • Completing Homework without Being Reminded: Not only should your child know specifics about his assignments, he should also be able to tackle homework without being reminded by you. This can be a difficult skill for many tweens to perfect, but it's an important skill to master and one that your child must have when high school begins. Help your child develop a daily plan so that he knows (on his own) when homework should begin, no questions asked, and no reminders. Don't expect your tween to develop this skill over night, it might take several months or even a year for him to mature enough to know that he's now in charge of his homework and projects.
  • Asking for Help When He Needs It: If your child struggled with a subject in elementary school, you probably noticed before he did. Now that your child is taking on more responsibility for his school life it's likely that he'll be the first to understand that he's not understanding Algebra or following along in Spanish. But knowing that there's a problem and doing something to correct that problem are two different things. By now your tween should realize that a problem exists and that he needs to do something about it before it gets ahead of him. Ideally, your tween should know that he can come to you or his teacher about problems he's having academically.
  • Prioritizing: Prioritizing is a difficult skill to master and many adults still find it difficult to do. It's important that your tween learn how to prioritize school, activities, homework, friends and down time. It's unlikely that he'll have it all figured out by the time he's finished with middle school. Many students are still learning how to prioritize well into high school, or even college. Hopefully, though, you'll see evidence that his prioritizing skills are improving over time, such as when he turns down an invitation to go to the movies so that he can concentrate on finishing a science project.
  • Taking Responsibility: This is another skill that takes a while to master. Tweens should now be able to take responsibility for their own actions. For example, your child should know that the reason he failed his Algebra test wasn't because his teacher was mean, but it was because he didn't study for it. When your child does own up to his actions (or inactions) be sure to give him credit for it. Of course, that doesn't mean rewarding him for bad behavior, but rather acknowledging the fact that he is being mature by recognizing his short comings.
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