Back to school tips: Preparing for middle school or junior high

Back to school tips: Preparing for middle school or junior high

The transition into junior high or middle school is a big event for tweens. It is a time when kids may think they don't need their parents, but they really, really do. School may not start for a few more weeks, but these back to school tips can help parents and kids prepare for middle school and lessen some of the stress of those first few days, especially if it's the first time in a new school.

* Lock it up!

Middle school is often the first time that a student has a locker with a lock. It's common for many students to have 2 lockers, one for school and one for gym. Master Lock sells a pack of two locks that have the same combination, which makes having two lockers easier.

Get your child his/her locks early and have him/her practice with them over the summer. Being able to memorize the combination and work the locks will be two fewer things to worry about on the first day.

Also talk about what goes in the locker and how your student will keep it organized. My tween had a list of 55 items she wanted in her locker. No way would even half of them fit. See if you and your tween can get info from students a few years older in terms of what kinds of shelves worked and if they have tips or tricks.

* Help them find their way. Literally.

Middle schools frequently have open houses and a chance for your child to get familiar with the school. Take full advantage of that opportunity. Walk the school, have your child know where the bathrooms are, where homeroom is, etc.

* Review the student handbook with your tween.

This may sound silly, but it only helps for you and your child to be on the same page and to both know what the school expects. There are a lot of conversation starters in there about everything from bullying to cheating to use of cell phones during school hours. This also forecloses the "but I didn't know" arguments down the road, too.

* State your expectations.

Once you're clear on what the school expects, parents should set forth their expectations for the school year, regarding both school work and responsibilities around the home. Will your middle schooler have the same chores they did last year? If there are new responsibilities you expect them to take on at home, have them start doing that now over the summer, before school starts and they are inundated with new information.

This is part of our Back to School Series. You can find all the other posts here.

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