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Getting 6th Graders Ready for Middle School

It’s happened- and sooner than you were ready for. Your adorable and helpful son has changed. Before, he made his bed without question; now, his bed is a Mt. Everest of bedsheets and pillows. Before, he confided in you about everything and took in your advice like a sponge; now, he seeks out the support and vast wisdom of his 11 and 12-year-old friends on what to do in social situations. What happened to the sweetheart you once knew?  He is still there; he is just turning into a teenager.

Parenting can be an uphill battle, constantly working to grow your children into morally-conscious, smart, and mature people. As your child finishes his fifth-grade year, you think you have finally hit your stride and it seems that your son has developed good academic and social habits. But sixth grade- and middle school- bring a new set of challenges.

Chip Wood writes in Yardsticks that adolescent boys are:

–undergoing growth spurts

–energetic but need lots of sleep

–enthusiastic about schoolwork they see as purposeful

–able to goal set and concentrate well

–very chatty

–very interested in their peers’ opinions

–ready to argue with their parents and other adults about rules

–capable of self-awareness and empathy

–careless with “Unimportant matters” such as cleaning their room

So, how can you support them during this important next stage? We recommend the following:

–find time to have regular, informal “check-ins” with your son about what is going on in their world (it is important they spend family time but also have individual time with just mom or dad too)

–get them involved in what they are interested in, even if it is for a short while (it may drive us crazy to have your son jump from baseball to swimming to art to martial arts practice, but they are getting to know themselves and need lots of exposure to new things)

–work with them to create an easy organization system (from cleaning their room to doing homework)

–change the way you help them with their schoolwork by asking clarifying questions rather than helping them find the answers (this will make them more responsible and resilient)

–help them find deeper reasons for why they should “do the right thing” (whether it is through religion or character-teaching, your child may start to question why they have to be nice to someone even when that person is not nice to them. They are looking for a deeper reasoning behind their morals.)

–help them see the consequences from their actions to allow them to take ownership of their actions

–find time to read with them or together as a family

–encourage them to keep a journal

With these and other methods, you may find that you can take a deep breath and walk boldly into this new territory.  Good luck on this  journey, parents! We’re all in it together.

Aisha Williams

Associate Head of School

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