A Parent’s Guide for Surviving Middle School
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What no one tells Parents about Middle School - Episode 054
What can you expect during the middle school years? Are you a parent looking to help your kids transition smoothly into middle school? Or are you a teacher looking for some tips on what kids will be expecting of you in their first week? Either way, you’ve found the right place. As a former school counselor currently parenting a middle school student, I am here to tell you what to expect in middle school, and how to survive (and thrive) in the first weeks!
1. Nothing Prepares You For Middle School
Here’s a reality check. Nothing can possibly prepare you for middle school!
When I was expecting, I read all the basic books on parenting, and none of them prepared me for the birth of my daughter! It was when she was born, that I actually started to learn how to parent, and there were A TON of mistakes. The books and the theory did not help me prepare!
Parenting a middle school student is exactly the same. You can go to orientations and meetings, read books on how to help children through middle school and you can even try talking to your friends about it, but you still won’t know the situation until you’re actually in it yourself.
As one friend put it, it’s like drinking from a fire hose.
All of a sudden, there are going to be a lot of changes/ They will be shifting to different classrooms, handling lockers and dealing with 7 different teachers for all their subjects! All your kid’s teachers will have different expectations and throw assignments and rules in that very first week. You might feel like middle school survival is impossible, and that you’re just floating away unable to grasp anything solid!
But remember, everything in that first week is overwhelming. Everything in the first month will be overwhelming. Heck, we probably won’t have middle school figured out until 8th-grade graduation! So don’t feel like you’re lacking because no matter how much you thought you’d prepared, it can never be enough, and things won’t go according to what you’d prepared anyway.
2. Is it a “Me” Problem or a “Kid” Problem?
Parenting a middle school student may get you extremely overwhelmed. And while that is completely acceptable, you don’t want your concerns to shadow your kids needs and growth. So ask yourself a simple question: Is it a “me” problem or a “kid” problem?
What this means is that if you’re flustered and can’t keep up, then you may think that your kid can’t keep up either. But sometimes, that isn’t true.
Maybe as a parent, you think middle school survival is difficult, but your kid might be adjusting just fine. In these circumstances, you want to make sure that you don’t freak your kids out about your issues and let your kids be happy.
3. Welcome to the Land of Schmoozing and Networking
Schmoozing and networking may seem like nothing to you, but for a kid it’s a new ballgame. Your kid will now have to adjust to 7 new teachers who all have different personalities and rules, and they may not understand or like your kid's personality right away.
Hence, a part of parenting a middle school student includes teaching your child to navigate through different personalities. I’m not talking sucking up and brown-nosing. I am talking about the acceptance that you are going to meet people you don’t like, people that don’t like you, and people you just don’t get. But we have to function as a unit. Because, in the long term, they will have to adjust to people with different personalities that may or may not gel with them.
You have to make them understand that if a teacher has a stern approach, then that doesn’t mean that the teacher is out to get them. Instead, teach them to adapt to the rules of the class and respect their teachers regardless.
4. Teachers be Tripping Over All These Supplies
This is more of a recommendation for teachers because as a parent, I am confused about all that jazz! There are 5 binders, 5 composition notebooks, and about 10 pocket folders! Having to carry all of these around all day long can be tiring and overwhelming.
A better system is to have a single binder with 5 sections and when these get too filled, shift them to separate filing folders that stay at home.
This is why schools should release two separate lists for students who want to carry less, and for those who prefer extra organisation. Not every kiddo works best with a folder for every class. Making all the kids buy extra supplies that end up getting thrown at the end of the year anyway is a waste of effort and money.
However, if teachers think that they are essential, then explaining the reasons for the necessity of the supplies would allow parents to get on board with it.
5. You Will Feel Helpless No Matter How Prepared You Are
For the first few months of middle school, you may feel helpless. That is because transitioning from elementary to middle school is a big shift. Elementary school certainly doesn’t prepare kids for that kind of transition, and you feel responsible.
I felt underprepared too! Simple things like picking up my kid and having to deal with the new carlines system bothered me. But ultimately, the start of every year is a little more confusing than when you end the year. Slowly, you and your kids get into the rhythm and you’re not so helpless anymore.
We’re going to feel helpless, but it’s alright. As the year ends, you will gain more confidence.
Hey parents—WE ARE HUMAN. I have worked with middle school and high school students for years, but when it’s your own child, it’s a new ballgame.
Give yourself permission to struggle and treat yourself with kindness when you fail.
Listen to the full episode for more tips and front line stories of the transition to middle school. You can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Googleplay, or Iheartradio or visit http://www.schoolcounselorgonerogue.com each week for the full episode (though let’s be honest, subscribing is so much easier!)
You can also sign up for the waitlist for The Organized School Year at teampasch.com/theorganizedschoolyear. It’s an intensive workshop to help your child create and implement an organization system that meets their needs.
Sign up for the waitlist here!
The transition to middle school
What parents can expect in middle school
How to help your child thrive in school
Marni Pasch| Host of School Counselor Gone Rogue| Academic Coach | Team Pasch Academic Coaching
I work with students in grades 6th and higher, who struggle with academic confidence and motivation. I help them survive school with less stress by helping them create concrete goals, tackle procrastination and learn creative study techniques. I empower students to take charge of their education and reach their goals. I do this through individual or group coaching so students achieve success in life, school, career readiness and their social endeavors. I provided in person academic coaching in Orlando, FL, but work with students across the country through Zoom!