For many parents, high school gets more focus than any other element of their child’s schooling. High school becomes part of a student’s permanent academic record. Poor grades or other problems in high school can prevent students from getting the scholarships they need, or even prevent them from getting into the college they most want to attend. For many students, however, waiting until high school and not getting the middle school skills they need to focus on academic success means that the focus comes too late.
The Importance of the Middle School Years
In middle school, most students will build the foundations they need for high school success. In many cases, students will learn and develop vital skills that will help them throughout high school and beyond.
During middle school, many students develop personal organizational skills for the first time. In elementary school, most students followed preset organization strategies created by their teachers. In middle school, on the other hand, students must develop their own strategies for organization.
Students have a much more complicated social balance. During the middle school years, many students have more academic and social responsibilities. They may join teams that have a much higher commitment, or they might participate in after-school activities with friends. Learning how to manage and juggle those responsibilities along with increased homework demands can take a toll on many students.
The academic skills developed in middle school help prepare your child for future success. From basic research skills to math skills that set the foundation for future studies, students in middle school will participate in a variety of lessons that they can’t afford to miss. Failure to grasp concepts at this critical juncture could leave your student falling behind–and students who fall behind in middle school may struggle to keep up throughout their high school years.
The transition from elementary school to middle school is the most difficult academic transition many students will face. They move from one (usually nurturing) teacher focused on building productive citizens and capable students to many teachers–often as many as seven or eight–focused primarily on content. Middle school teachers often work with five to six times more students over the course of a typical day, which means they do not have the resources to get to know each student–and many teachers don’t care as much about them. Unfortunately, this can cause a number of difficulty during these critical years.
Not only is the transition rough, but many students also face unique challenges during the middle school years that can impact them for the rest of their life. Consider:
- One in five students report being bullied. Middle school often brings increased online access for many students, who may experience cyberbullying, as well.
- During middle school, students begin to notice more about whether or not they belong to a given group. They may feel more lonely and isolated if they aren’t included–and fewer students are automatically included in birthday parties and other student gatherings.
- Puberty usually strikes hard during the middle school years, leaving students dealing with physical and emotional upheaval in addition to their other stresses.
What Can You Do?
As a parent, you want what’s best for your child–especially during the complex middle school years. Do you have students that are moving into the sixth grade or who are struggling to fit in or handle their academic responsibilities as they move into the seventh or eighth grade? There are several things you can do to help.
Keep checking in with your student. As much time as they spend with their friends and their teachers, you are still one of the primary influences in their lives. Make sure to keep an eye on their emotional state as well as their academic standing.
Carefully consider your child’s academic options for middle school. At The Tenney School, we offer more personalized, one-on-one instruction that takes into account the whole student, not just their performance in one subject area. For many middle school students, this can help build the foundations that will set them up for academic success.
Are you ready to look into new options for your child’s middle school years? Will your child benefit from an environment where bullying is minimized and teachers are able to pay more attention to their students? Contact us today to learn more about our schooling options.