Back-to-school season is in full swing. Here at the Talbert residence we are already counting down the days until the first day of school. For some kids, this transition from summer to school is stressful and tough, especially if they are entering middle school. Middle school years are challenging and kids can be very mean at this age. As parents we want to do the right thing to help our kids have a successful school year, especially when they begin the year in a new school.
I am honored to feature an article about helping your child transition to middle school from Gianetta Reno, the author of the book, Too Much! A Guide to Surviving Middle School. Her book is an interactive book for tweens and their parents about to go through the dreaded middle school years. She has a strong love and desire to help youth, as well as a spirit of encouragement. Gianetta is the Lead Writer at Foresight Book Publishing, a Chattanooga-based self-publisher that specializes in creating business branding books for professionals of all fields. Too Much is Gianetta’s debut book and incorporates some of her own personal stories from middle school.
“Middle school isn’t what it used to be. Even in the ten-plus years I’ve been out of middle school, so much has changed, especially in technology. Facebook wasn’t even available to the public until I was in high school. Now, students of increasingly younger ages are given smartphones, giving them access to everything the internet has to offer—good and bad. Middle school students are experiencing things we didn’t come across until high school or older, and because they’re so young they don’t know how to handle them properly,” states author Gianetta Reno.
“Too Much! A Guide to Surviving Middle School takes a plethora of relevant topics for maturing students and speaks to them in a way that encourages students to brainstorm solutions on their own and with a parent. We’ve placed thought-provoking questions throughout the book that are meant to start a conversation between the tween and student. While middle school is a time when students begin to find their identity and learn how to succeed/fail in life, we also believe it’s the parent’s duty to be a safety net during this development, which is why we try to emphasize finding a balance between helicoptering and a complete hands-off approach.”
Advising Your Middle Schooler Through School Without Giving the Answers
Middle school begins the introduction of a heavier academic workload, one which many students are unprepared for coming out of fifth grade. More teachers and more classes equals more homework, more tests, and unfortunately more stress. No parent wants to see their son or daughter struggle through the trenches of more advanced subjects, so the natural reaction is to help them in this influx of work.
Middle School is a Time of Growth
However, one of the most hindering things you can do as a parent is do your child’s work for them instead of letting them figure it out on their own. Middle school is a time of growth, and these transitional years are meant to teach tweens the importance of values such as responsibility and time management. Tweens can’t learn to take responsibility if their moms are always hovering over them telling them what work they need to do, when it’s due, and how to do it. This doesn’t mean you need to take a complete hands-off approach and disengage yourself from the learning process entirely. Your students still needs you! But they need you more to advise them on projects, not give them all the answers.
The best way to advise your student in the learning process is by asking questions that, when answered, show whether or not they are actively engaged in their own education. A good example of this would be if your son had a science test on Friday. Instead of saying Monday night, “Don’t forget to study for your science test on chapter 3,” the advising method would be to ask, “When is your next science test?” If you son answers with Friday, then go on to ask what material the test is over and how confident he feels about it. Progressively asking questions that allow him to give you the answer shows that he is keeping up with his schoolwork and learning to take responsibility for it.
Many schools now give parents access to online boards where syllabi and grades are posted. These boards are perfect for engaging yourself in the learning process because you can see exactly what work your child is turning in and where they need help. These boards are also great because they allow you to see when those certain assignments are due, giving you the secret know-how into asking those advising questions. Parental involvement, such as looking at these kinds of boards or keeping in connection with school faculty, is key for aiding and teaching them to be academically successful on their own.
It’s also important to remember that sometimes the biggest teacher of success is failure, While parents never want their children to experience this pain, it is necessary in learning problem-solving skills. The second tip to advising your student through schoolwork is allowing them to learn from their failures. Say, for example, your student brings home a test for you to sign for three bonus points. If you don’t sign it, they aren’t penalized but they are rewarded for completing the task. Instead of telling them to bring you the test, allow them to approach you and tell you about the assignment. If they do, they earn bonus points! If not, they’ll remember this missed opportunity the next time it arises. Notice not earning the extra points doesn’t put them at risk of flunking the entire semester. Give your son or daughter room to fail safely.
Parenting a middle schooler can be tricky. Your baby is growing up and maturing into a whole new person academically, mentally, spiritually, and physically. It can be easy to want to step in as their knight-in-shining-armor, but you have to remember to give them room to grow through their successes and, as hard as it is to watch, failures. Balance is key to parenting those ever-changing tweens, and there may be times when you feel you simply can’t break down the communication barrier between you. For those moments, we’ve created a book just for tweens and parents going through the dreaded middle grade years titled Too Much! A Guide to Surviving Middle School. A fun, interactive read, this book offers insight into the struggles of modern middle school and gives advice, like the above, for adults trying to find the balance between helicopter and disengaged parent.
By Gianetta Reno for the Healthy Moms Magazine
Gianetta Reno is the author of Too Much! A Guide to Surviving Middle School, an interactive book for tweens and their parents about to go through the dreaded middle school years. She has a strong love and desire to help youth, as well as a spirit of encouragement. Gianetta is the Lead Writer at Foresight Book Publishing, a Chattanooga-based self-publisher that specializes in creating business branding books for professionals of all fields. Too Much is Gianetta’s debut book and incorporates some of her own personal stories from middle school.