Preparing Your Child for Middle School
I know guys. For some of us, school isn’t even out yet. But you know how time is… It flies.
Preparing Your Child for Middle School
*This is post was created in partnership with Ask. Listen. Learn. All opinion is my own.
The first day of school will be here before you know it! It may feel a little bit early, but thinking about how to help your child transition from elementary school to middle school more than 3 days before school starts will probably only work to your (and your child’s) advantage.
Simply moving to a new school can be intimidating for any kid, but oftentimes a move to middle school means going from one classroom to six or even seven. It also means a whole new pool of peer influence.
What CAN a parent do to help one’s kid make the transition from elementary school to middle school?
It can be easy to overlook how intimidating or scary the launch into middle school can be. It’s important for us to slow down and really listen… maybe even listen between the lines. Our kids may not plainly lay out their fears or concerns.
In fact, they usually don’t.
My experience has been that kids often share fears or concern in pieces as they put the pieces together themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I have FINALLY pieced together the piece-y information from my kids to get the full picture.
But it requires a lot of listening. Not just when they are emotional, but especially in the times that seem less critical. It’s the small moments… kind-of like baby steps. Or lowering oneself into a cool pool of water. Kids don’t necessarily just jump into conversation. We need to be around as they lower themselves into the conversation.
Our kids will open up when they are ready. We can help that if they feel like we are present and really listening. It’s in those moments we can then pass on the support they need in middle school as they dive into an exciting, but sometimes intimidating new world.
When our kids feel listened to, they are more open to listening.
- There are going to be lots of new faces which means lots of new influences.
- You won’t be the only new kid. Keep an eye out for kids that you observe might look lonely, and make an effort to be inclusive.
- There is a difference between being kind and inclusive, and building friendships with kids who may not be a positive influence.
If a child has not been exposed to negative peer influence yet… this will likely be the time. These are the years we parents need to be listening, listening, listening. It’s a key foundation… to be heard by our middle schoolers. Even if they only “hear” a fraction of what we say.
We listen fist, but also look for opportunities to drop little nuggets of knowledge we hope our kids will chew on. If we never get to to drop those little nuggets because our kids aren’t talking (maybe because they don’t feel listened to?), what internal resource (some may call it that “still, small voice”) will the child have to refer to when the time comes that he/she needs to make a decision?
There are no guarantees when it comes to middle schoolers, but if you consider the fact parents are the #1 deciding factor whether or not their kids decide to drink underage… making listening and talking with our kids a priority, at the very least, seems to be our best insurance policy.
So despite the lack of eye contact, the eye rolls, and the flippant behavior, kids are listening. They are giving off signals that they want us to listen to them too. Let’s practice being open to listening over the summer so that—good or bad, positive or negative—when those new changes, friends, and circumstance come about we are armed (EAR-ed?) with the power of listening to help them get through these tween years as painlessly as possible…
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