It’s not just the kids who have a big transition from elementary to middle school. We do, too! Learn how moms of middle schoolers can stay involved as your students move through these school years.
I’m partnering with Kleenex this back to school season to support classrooms and teachers.
Were you super-involved during your kids’ elementary school years? Maybe you were volunteering in the classroom, participating in the PTA, helping at school events, etc. I sure was! But middle school brings a whole new dynamic, for both you and your child.
Kids at this age (grades 6-8) don’t want their parents around. Not at all! They want to be independent, and they want to feel like “big” kids, not the little kids they were back in elementary school (even if elementary school was just a few months ago!).
What do you need to know about transitioning to middle school?
I have found this to be such a tricky time! Kids are pulling away. Hormones are raging. Puberty is happening, or it’s not yet and they’re comparing themselves to others. There are new hallways to navigate, many more teachers and classes to handle, and all kinds of social growth. It’s a lot of change!
How can you help your middle schooler?
Give your kids some space…but also be there to support. This was really hard for me. When my son (now a high school junior) started middle school, he really needed hands-on support with time management, staying organized, and staying on top of his classes.
Or did he?
When my twin daughters started middle school this last year, I realized how much I had overdone for my son.
This time around, I let them be responsible for themselves. I stood back and waited until they asked for help. One never did–she just figured it out as she went along.
My other daughter had some ups and downs over the course of the year. I can already tell this year will be smoother, since she’s already talking about what she wants to do differently in regards to supplies, getting around the school, and using her afterschool time wisely.
How can you help your middle school?
Think about how middle school teachers are treated compared to elementary school teachers. Elementary teachers get cute Back to School gifts, sweet notes and holiday treats. Middle school teachers deal with a very tough age group–all day long–and rarely get the recognition and appreciation of their elementary counterparts.
How do I know this? I taught 8th grade middle schoolers after teaching in a K-5 elementary school, and it was like night and day! At the elementary school, I was part of each student’s family, doted on and loved by many of the students and their families. At middle school, I made connections with a handful of kids but really only got to know the parents of the kids who needed conferences–meaning the ones being disciplined or struggling with grades.
How can you stay involved at your child’s middle school?
Here are 5 strategies that have worked for me over the years:
Show your school spirit
Purchase a bumper sticker, tshirt, or other school spirit item to become part of the school family. You’ll be there a few years! You can also attend sports events, concerts and theater productions. In fact, this was one of the main ways I got my three kids comfortable with their new school. Through their last couple of years of elementary, we visited the middle school often so they could be inside it and not feel so intimidated.
Find support from other parents
There’s a Facebook group for everything. In our area, there’s one for our entire school, and then there’s one for each of the “Class of _” grades. This is where parents ask questions and get information. And veteran parents (like me) share tips and tricks that have worked for us and our kids. For some parents, it’s the only place they find out about important dates and events (because their student leaves that info in the bottom of the backpack).
Volunteer your time
Finding volunteers for class activities and field trips is even harder for middle school teachers. One of my daughter’s teams even had to cancel a trip this year because they couldn’t nail down enough chaperones. It was such a shame! Many teachers will give you a heads up early in the year, usually at Back to School Night, of the big events for the academic year. Make a point to participate!
Send in supplies
It turns out that middle school teachers face similar funding issues as elementary school teachers. They often pay out of pocket when they need classroom supplies. Pay attention at Back to School Night this year when your middle schooler's teachers ask for donations. We often hear from ours multiple times during the year–particularly asking for tissues!
If you’re a Costco shopper, you’ll see these big Kleenex Facial Tissue bundle packs in the store. They’re a great value, plus you’ll save $4.50 on each pack August 7th through September 1st! You'll see the discount on the price tag in the warehouse and will be applied at the register. Also available at Costco online! Drop one off for your middle schooler’s team of teachers so they can share. And grab an extra to send in later in the school year when those run out.
Remember that middle school teachers are people, too!
Share nice words with a teacher, especially if your child won’t do it themselves. One year, my son raved about his English teacher. He really enjoyed all her literature picks, especially after a couple of years of dreading the class reading. So I sent her an email! I let her know how much he enjoyed her class and wished her a wonderful summer. Of course, it would have been lovely if he’d emailed her himself or written up a card. But that’s me thinking as a mom, not something a typical 8th grade boy would do! And again–that’s one of those elementary-school things to do, anyway.
As many a middle school parent will tell you, this too shall pass. The middle school years can be a struggle for both kids and their parents. Do your best to stay involved without going overboard (the lesson I learned). Good luck this year!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Kleenex® Facial Tissue.
More about Back to (Middle) School:
- How to save on back to school clothes shopping
- 7 ways to save big on back to school
- Save with a sales tax holiday on school supplies and clothing