Is Your Child Prepared for Middle School?
The Top 5 Things You Should Consider
Author: Bridget A. Schleifer M.Ed, Laurel Springs School
Academic Department Chair K-8
As we move toward the end of another
school year, it is at this point that parents and students
reflect on the successes and areas of opportunity they
experienced from the past year and begin to look ahead to
the new challenges set before them. If your child is making
the leap from the elementary grade levels to middle school,
you may feel a twinge of anxiety as you think about your
child juggling the demands of more in-depth content and the
increasing performance expectations in middle school. As the
K-8 Department Chair at
Laurel Springs School,
I often stress the importance of preparing students for the
rigors of middle school and giving them all of the tools
necessary to find success. Here are five things you should
consider to move your child closer to becoming an effective,
efficient, independent, and lifelong learner:
Struggles or Areas of Opportunity
Knowing your child's strengths
and weaknesses with regards to learning can be one of the
greatest tools in a parent's arsenal. At
we use a learning styles profile to determine how a child
learns best. This information, coupled with information
about content-specific deficiencies and strengths can help
set your child on an individualized path toward success.
We encourage our parents to speak with their child's teacher
to understand what learning gaps or deficits their child is
currently displaying. Our faculty use an entire host of
resources to determine where a student is with regards to
grade-level requirements and they have a clear picture of
what is needed to succeed in middle school. Take the time to
really understand the areas your child needs extra practice
and attention and use the summer break to minimize some of
those learning gaps. Moreover, use this information when
selecting middle school courses for your child.
offers many curriculum options to ensure the individual
needs of each student are being met.
"Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day
out." — Robert Collier
Do your child's current
academic habits set him or her up for success or failure?
Just as good nutrition, sleep, and exercise builds a healthy
body; good academic habits build a student capable of
meeting any academic challenge put in their way.
Here are a few academic habits that your child should strive
- Create an environment that is
conducive to learning. Make sure your learning space is
organized and free from distractions.
- Plan specific times for social
media and gaming as these can be significant time
drains. Do not allow these things to encroach on your
time spent learning.
- Find a balance for giving your
best; work thoughtfully and stop short of perfectionism.
- Create a system for notebooks,
assignments, and materials and put things away
immediately when done.
- Don't wait to get help when you
are struggling with a concept. We encourage our families
to reach out to their teacher or drop into our Live
Academic Help room.
- Keep a schedule that includes all
academic and personal due dates and events.
is simply the process of thinking about thinking. It may
seem a bit obscure, but delving into the concept of
metacognition with your child can have a very positive
effect on learning. In
the author explains the use of metacognition as a "thinking
tool" that improves learning and creates independent
thinkers. Once you begin to understand metacognition, you
can model it for your child by working through the steps of
problem-solving or learning a new concept verbally.
For many of our families, a
significant change in middle school is the shift from one
teacher overseeing all of their child's courses to one
teacher for each content area. Juggling the requirements for
each course requires a bit of initiative on behalf of the
student. Here at
teachers send welcome emails and videos to each student at
the start of the enrollment to set expectations and to begin
building the student-teacher relationship. We encourage
students to reply to that email with an introduction. This
is a big step for some children, but it can benefit them
greatly by opening the lines of communication with their
teacher. In addition, we encourage students to get involved
in the many social opportunities provided by
This again requires some initiative, but it will allow the
student to build connections with the staff and students and
give them the opportunity to develop their interests within
a community of learners.
"Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things
harder." — Mason Cooley
is something a lot of people, regardless of age, struggle to
manage. When a looming project or other formidable task is
hanging over our heads, the need to push it off one more
minute, hour, day, or week can be hard to overcome. One of
the many benefits of schooling online is that students have
the flexibility to do school at any time that is convenient
for them. With this flexibility comes the added
responsibility for students to keep to a daily schedule and
stay accountable for completing assignments. As an educator,
I am a firm believer in a Sunday night "prep hour". Take
time weekly to create a schedule for the upcoming week. Once
you set a schedule, hold your child accountable to the
tasks, assignments, and deadlines in that schedule. Here is
a list of rewards for tweens and teens that can be used as
motivation for completing tasks and assignments on time:
- Time on an electronic device or
- Recreation activity such as
hiking, swimming, or biking
- Family game night
- Time spent on a favorite hobby
- Movie night
- Time with friends
Don't allow procrastination to keep
your child from reaching their goals. Once a child is
behind, motivation can be lost and getting back on track can
become very daunting.
Hopefully you find that these simple tips for middle school
preparation will enable your child move closer to becoming
an effective, efficient, independent, and lifelong learner.