As your middle school child begins to approach high school, they are bound to be filled with a certain sense of excitement. After all, high school brings so many new experiences and opportunities to learn, grow, develop new friendships, and become more independent. What’s not to be excited about?
Of course, high school also brings its own challenges, typically in the form of increased workloads, more homework and other forms of independent learning, and a pressure to begin preparing for college. These challenges are a normal part of the high school process, and something that all students must learn to handle in their own way.
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For that reason, the transition from middle school to high school can sometimes come with growing pains. Fortunately, there are many ways parents can prepare their middle schooler for the road ahead and guide their child along this new journey.
Tips to Prepare Middle Schoolers for High School
There are some easy ways to help your middle schooler prepare for high school. Visiting the school before the school year begins so that your child can become acquainted with the facilities and attending orientation can go a long way in demystifying this new world. Additionally, reviewing materials and supply lists can ensure they begin day one on solid footing. But there are also long-term habits and tactics you can help your young learner develop that will keep them successful in high school and beyond.
1. Promote good study habits.
Helping your child develop the ability to plan and organize can go a long way to helping them feel better prepared for high school. Just as you set routines when your child was little to keep them grounded and stable, routines can now help them to feel in control of their changing surroundings. This is especially important when so much is changing.
Working with your middle schooler to develop good study habits and time management skills can proactively help them handle the increased workload and harder coursework as it comes, keeping them from feeling overwhelmed. Something as simple as getting them a daily planner and showing them how to organize it can help them keep track of assignments, due dates, extra curriculars, and allows them to feel a sense of calm and control when it comes to tackling their education and responsibilities.
These skills—the ability to effectively manage time and good study habits—will help your child in high school and beyond. And this ability to adeptly manage their daily lives, both personal and educational, will serve to foster their development into calm, confident adults.
2. Focus on relationships.
So often, we focus on the new friendships and relationships our children will find and develop as they leave middle school and enter high school. And ultimately, these relationships will bolster their sense of self and social compass as they grow and develop. Students should be encouraged however, to also develop relationships with their teachers, educators, and mentors as well.
Parents should encourage their soon-to-be high schoolers to readily and openly communicate with their teachers, and lay the foundation for mentorships that can help them in secondary education and beyond. Developing these communication skills will also allow them to stay aware of their progress and get a good idea of where, and more importantly, how they can improve in their studies. A strong student-teacher relationship can afford young learners a unique insight into their strengths and weaknesses and the ability to identify tactics to improve upon those abilities.
3. Encourage independent learning.
As your child enters high school, you want to be sure they are prepared to learn at increasingly challenging levels. Furthermore, you want to ensure they can apply that knowledge to their education and performance in the real world. For this reason, it’s crucial to take the time to encourage your child to become an independent learner.
While it’s tempting to immediately turn the focus to preparing for college, students should focus instead on finding the joy in learning, and figuring out where their strengths and weaknesses lie. With the new, less structured learning environment they will discover in high school, and the increased sense of independence they will enjoy as they move onto higher education, a student’s success will be greatly impacted by their ability to take ownership of their education and learn independently.
One great way to foster this ability is to encourage them to read independently, and to discover where their passions lie. Students that are encouraged to read for fun and follow their interests soon develop the self-motivation to keep that learning going, and naturally begin to push themselves to learn more. This sense of personal responsibility for their learning and education will help them adeptly tackle the increasing workload and difficulty of material.
Raising Prepared Learners
Ultimately, your child is going to experience an entirely new world as they enter high school. They will have new surroundings, new friends, new lessons, and new experiences. They will be expected to take ownership of their studies and experience a level of responsibility and independence in their lives that will feel entirely new.
And while this new journey can at times be challenging, it is absolutely manageable. Taking simple steps now, as your child prepares for the transition—such as helping them create a routine, stay organized, and take responsibility for their studies—will help to make them more prepared, capable individuals, in and out of school.