The middle school years are years of tremendous growth for your tween. But your child is bound to encounter obstacles along the way. Below are common school obstacles your tween might experience, along with practical information on getting through these challenges.
Middle School Obstacles
Staying Focused: In middle school, course work, homework, projects and academic expectations increase. That can be a lot for a tween to manage, and staying focused can be a challenge for many middle school students. You can help by offering advice on staying aware in class, keeping up with homework assignments and projects, and getting your child into a daily homework routine. Also, be sure to help your child manage his time so that he's not running from one activity to another. Staying focused may mean prioritizing commitments and time, and that's something your tween may need assistance mastering.
Transportation Issues: If your child hopes to try out for a school sports team, the school band or join a school club, that could mean finding after school transportation arrangements for your child. Working parents often struggle with after school transportation, and sometimes students may even be prevented from participating in certain activities due to schedule conflicts. Be sure you and your tween work together to find solutions to transportation challenges, such as carpools, or by selecting activities that also work with other family commitments. Be sure to check with your child's school to see if they can offer up any solutions or options that you might not know about.
Recess is Over: For middle school students, recess is a thing of the past, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's easy to get used to a schedule that doesn't allow for a little down time. Your child won't be let outside everyday to play on the playground equipment, but there are ways for your preteen to relax and recharge during the school day. Encourage your tween to use his lunch time and even homeroom to gear up for the busy school day. Also, many schools require that middle school students take physical education, and that's another opportunity to recharge and destress before his or her next class.
Social Shifting: The constant shift of the middle school social structure may be the hardest school obstacle your child will face. School mates may be friends one day, but not the next. Popularity is never a given and may only be temporary. The best way to manage these social shifts and friendship problems is to make sure your child's self esteem is healthy and that he or she is confident in their abilities. Also, give your child a safe place to escape the pressures of school, either through an activity after school or at home. Let your child know that you support and love him, and that most social problems are temporary and short lived.
Figuring Out What's Cool -- and What's Not: All the rules change once middle school starts. Lunch boxes might be cool in elementary school, but not necessarily in middle school. It's hard for tweens to figure out how to avoid the teasings and criticisms of their peers, and chances are at some point your tween will be singled out for something. Arm your tween with the skills he or she will need to disarm bullies or teasers and get through the day. An older sibling or friend can offer up advice on how to avoid asking for trouble, and how to deal with mean peers on the bus or at school. At this stage of development your tween will want to fit in, and that may mean he or she will ask for certain clothes, backpacks, or other items that are considered cool. Giving in a little to these demands is not necessarily a bad thing. Just be sure your child understands that peer pressure can be taken to the extreme, and that is not okay.