Checklist for parents of middle school students

Middle school is an important time to stay on track with learning. In seventh grade, your children will begin an education plan to connect their learning to their future. It is key that they be challenged academically, that they develop good study habits, and that they make connections between school and their futures. You can help keep them on track with clear expectations, support, and encouragement.

Make sure your children are prepared for each school day. Make sure they get up each morning with time to prepare themselves for school. Provide an appropriate breakfast and lunch. Make sure they are dressed comfortably and appropriately. Remind them to remember their homework and school supplies. Fill out and return any paperwork that comes home with them.

Communicate regularly with the teachers and staff at school. Read all school communications. Introduce yourself to your children’s teachers at the beginning of each year. Visit your children’s classroom to become familiar with where they spend their days. Volunteer as a classroom assistant if possible. Call teachers or send notes if you have questions or concerns.

Attend school events. Participate in any regular parent/teacher conferences. (Many employers will allow you to take time off for this important activity.) Come prepared with your questions and concerns. Also, make a special effort to attend school open houses and parent nights. Support student events and performances by helping with them and by attending them.

Encourage your children to challenge themselves in school. A positive school experience that is both academically challenging and rich in extracurricular activities is important in itself and as preparation for life after high school. Most adolescents believe that they are going to college, but they do not necessarily understand that they need to prepare themselves academically. A college preparatory curriculum begins in middle school. If students don't take the right courses in middle school, they may be shut out of the college preparatory track in high school. The U.S. Department of Education recommends that middle and junior high school students take Algebra I in 8th grade, Geometry in 9th grade, and English, Science, and History or Geography every year. Foreign language, computer, and visual or performing art classes are also recommended.

Promote good study habits. Provide your children with a quiet, well-lit, comfortable place to study. Make sure distractions are minimized – turn off the television and loud music. Decide together on a homework schedule that your children can keep; reward them for sticking to it. Talk to your children each day after school to find out what they need to do. Go over their assignments with them when they are complete; ask questions about them.

Make your home a good place to learn. Encourage learning by modeling it. Read regularly yourself. Establish a schedule for reading together as a family. Set limits on viewing television, playing video games, conversing with friends on telephone or computer. Listen to their concerns each day with empathy. Praise your children regularly.

Explore extracurricular interests. Middle school offers a time for students to get involved in sports teams, band, choir, theater, and more. Encourage your children to try as many of these activities as they have time for and interest in but be sure the activities do not interfere with schoolwork.

Talk with your children about their interests and their futures. Deciding on a career path takes a long time. Middle school is a good time to start exploring options. Your children are ready to begin learning about the concepts of college, careers, and the future. Discuss their dreams and what it takes to achieve those dreams with them on a regular basis. Have your student research any career interests and find out what kind of education is required.
At the end of 8th grade, pay close attention to the course options available in high school and help your children choose wisely. When your children schedule 9th grade courses, make sure they get started on a track that will prepare them best to meet their goals. Learn about all of the different opportunities available at their high school. Attend the 8th Grade Orientation meeting for high school at your child’s school if one is offered.
Continue saving money for education or training after high school (or get started if you haven’t). Some parents believe that unless they have a lot of cash to set aside, there’s little point in saving for college or some other postsecondary training. Not true. Saving even a little bit (for example, $25 each month) can add up over time and starting early is critical.