Middle school is an ideal time to begin working on key skills and habits that provide a foundation for future academic success. Students find more freedom and responsibility in middle school, and this sets the stage for high school. Developing a understanding of the organization skills needed for increased academic challenge is an important first step. It is also critical to review in and out of class options that will help students maximize learning opportunities.
Encourage the development of positive character traits to heighten an understanding of personal responsibility. A well-rounded student understands the importance of personal and academic development. Character qualities to emphasize include honor, cooperation, honesty, respect and gratitude. Some schools recognize students who exhibit interpersonal traits that contribute to a positive learning environment. For example, a Denver middle school honors a student of the month for positive character traits. Instilling character education at home reinforces this value.
Pre-advanced placement or enriched classes provide a taste of the academic rigor that students may experience in high school. Typically, students who take these types of classes are more focused on academic success and interested in increased learning opportunities. Taking these classes helps students learn about study skills, project completion and how to manage increased workload. Enriched classes help students develop a positive attitude about school and become more interested in pursuing increased academic challenge.
Physical activity is critical for middle school students. Exercising and engaging in team sports provides an avenue for expression and peer belonging. Middle school is an ideal time to try new sports without the competitive pressure of competitive play in high school. Eligibility to play includes maintaining good academic standing and behaving appropriately in and out of school. Middle school students learn responsibility and discipline by adhering to team rules and regulations. Team sports also provide an opportunity to make friends and belong to something.
Parental involvement is key in developing solid academic habits for middle school students. Start by teaching organizational skills. Help your child learn how to chart upcoming assignments and plan appropriate study time. Review their work and let them know you are proud of their accomplishments. Maintain contact with teachers so you can work with your child on challenging projects and tests. Set aside study time at home and read a book while your child is completing homework. If children know you're invested in their success, they are more likely to be committed to their school.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.