Here in Connecticut and across the country schools are preparing to open for the new school year and both parents and children are counting down the last days of summer. It can be a great temptation to make these few weeks a blur of last-minute summer activities, but parents (especially those of tweens entering their first year of middle school) have a lot to do to prepare them for the upcoming school year. There are many changes with middle school and much parents can do to help tweens adjust to the differences from elementary school.
During the summer months it’s rather common to let bedtimes slide, sometimes to a great extent. These last couple weeks before the start of school are the days to readjust your tween’s sleep-schedule back to more sensible-for-school hours. Your tween is not going to like it, but now is the time to get them going to bed earlier. In some cases not quite as early as their bedtime was last year, they are older and the milestone of an extra half-hour can at times be both warranted and earned. The important thing for parents to note is that middle school days begin approximately an hour earlier than elementary school days. Your tween is going to have to wake up earlier than they did last year or have less time to get ready for school, parents need to set new schedule accordingly.
New middle school students are going to have more homework than they did last year in elementary school. One way to get them into the swing for this added responsibility is to (if they haven’t finished it already) is to get started now on that summer-homework packet they were given at the end of last year. If that packet is nowhere to be found (seemingly endless weeks of summer slacking have passed and they can often disappear), you can check the website for your child’s middle school, some of them have printable copies on their websites.
You can also inquire directly during the sixth-grade orientation you will probably soon be attending, or at the middle school’s main office (most of them maintaining summer hours for just such inquiries). Breaking that summer packet up into a couple pages (or questions depending on it’s length and how many days are left between now and the start of school) can get your tween again used to buckling down every evening and back into a school-year mentality.
There is an increased social factor to middle school that may not have been present in elementary school. More of your tween’s classmates will be attempting to emulate their older siblings or the neighborhood high school teens in both manner and dress. This can be especially daunting to tweens who may be foreseeing this fact and picturing middle school as mini-high school. They might begin to worry a great deal that how they look and dress will now be a great deal more important to how much their classmates will like them.
One way to ease these worries (or at least to let them feel better about this particular stress) is to step back a little bit during back to school clothes shopping. Within the dress code limits of your family and the middle school (these can also be checked online as many have their student handbooks available on their websites), let them have enough control over the outfit choices that they can say they have at least one outfit they picked out themselves. You can also add to the shopping trip a stop at a local salon to let them choose their own hairstyle this year. Both of these will allow them a greater degree of excitement and less nervousness for the first day of school. All of these things can together make for a great start to a new stage in your tween’s education and social development.