I recently attended a parent information meeting regarding my oldest’s son’s transition into middle school. I must admit, I am in some serious denial about him attaining this milestone, but going to this meeting made it seem much more real. In only couple short months he will be on his way. He is ready. I am not.
I don’t know that there is much I can do to get myself ready. I think there is going to be sadness at the realization that he is no longer my ‘little’ boy. All I can do is honor those feelings when they arise and look to him as my guidepost. If I can outwardly show my support, he will be more confident. If he has more confidence, then I will feel better as well. So, I’m guessing there will be some days where I will ‘fake it ’til I make it’. On the bright side, I’ve been masquerading as a morning person for years for the benefit of easier mornings with my kids, so I should be good at acting as if middle school is exactly where I want him.
The meeting I attended had some great lessons about what to possibly expect with my son in junior high. I’d like to share them here. Hopefully if you have a soon-to-be middle schooler, you will find these helpful.
The first thing to be watchful for is your child’s organizational skills. Middle school is a critical time to make sure these skills are in place to ensure future academic success. If your child seems to be struggling academically, it is crucial to find out if it’s a lack of comprehension or simply not being organized. More often than not, it is related to poor planning and organization. The good news is, these are skills that can be taught. The sooner they learn them, the better.
At this point it is not uncommon for kids to change dramatically. This is a time period when kids mature physically and emotionally at varying rates. This can mean friendships that were rock solid for years no longer work. This is ok. This is all part of the normal process of growing up and for our children to discover who they are as people. For me, this information seemed particularly helpful. As parents we are so quick to worry about our kids not fitting in when really all it might be is a change in interests and differing maturity levels.
Kids this age can be easily distracted by romantic entanglements. I have yet to see that too much with my son, but I know it is looming on the horizon. It is important to keep communication open with our kids as much as possible to help them navigate this new territory of life. These changing relationship dynamics can also be a distraction to school work. As parents, we must remain vigilant about helping them keep on track.
As our kids are transforming into young adults, it was recommended that we encourage them to try lots of extracurricular activities, especially those outside our areas of interest. Basically, get them to try sports and clubs that may not necessarily appeal to you because this is where your child’s hidden talent or passion could emerge. I truly appreciated this advice and shared that with my son as soon as I could. I told him that he should try anything that remotely interests him because you never know where it may lead.
At the end of the day, I can’t know what I can’t know. I’m sure there will be bumps in the road and a learning curve about how to be a parent to a middle schooler. Until then, all I can do is savor these last few precious weeks of summer with my ‘baby’.
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent