Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Ascension Episcopal School and written by Rachel Delcambre.
5 Tips for Helping Your Child Survive Middle School
While middle school was difficult when we were young, it is increasingly difficult for today’s students in part because of the challenging demands that technology, social media, and our devices have put on our kids. Rather than shielding our children from these challenges, we can help them succeed in middle school by equipping them with the resources and skills they need to handle tough times.
5 Tips for Helping Your Child Survive Middle School
- Teach and Model Social Emotional Development – Teach your child how to handle difficult situations by responding instead of reacting. Skills and practice are required, and the more we model it for our children, the more they will improve. When your child comes home upset because of what another child said or did, calmly listen to how the situation made them feel, then equip them with the tools and words to handle the situation maturely. Often emotions are high right after an event. A good night’s sleep can help your middle schooler (and you) have a clear head to manage the situation logically rather than emotionally. Many programs help children practice social-emotional skills, including Ascension’s 5th-grade Thrive program, which aims to equip students to navigate awkward social situations, teaches them how to handle conflict, and educates them on manners and etiquette. Additionally, our students meet weekly in Advisory to engage with lessons from The Social Institute, an online learning platform that empowers students to navigate their social world positively.
- Help your child connect with a teacher or coach– Our children spend most of their days with teachers and peers. Help them learn how to connect to adults. From a simple “good morning” or smile to speaking up for themselves when they have an issue or problem, our middle schoolers build relationships through communication. A trusted adult at school can be a place of refuge and reasoning to help support our parenting. If we partner with this adult as parents, we strengthen our chances of curbing negative behavior or spiraling in our children. What we don’t see, we can’t fix. Find a school that allows teachers to build student relationships while encouraging parent involvement. Small class sizes at Ascension enable our teachers to recognize when students need extra support and attention and partner with parents to support their children best.
- Give opportunities to try new things- We don’t want our children to live in a world full of fear, but often we don’t allow them to try new things without expecting perfection or allowing failure. Teaching our kids what to do in the face of failure is a valuable lesson that often comes too late in life, if ever. But how do we do this? Emphasize effort rather than ability which encourages a growth mindset. It fosters perseverance and teaches students to give themselves grace while learning. At Ascension, students in middle school have the opportunity to try multiple athletics without fear of “not making the team,” as well as participating in several class theatre productions that build community. Through these opportunities, they can discover their passions without any hesitation.
- Encourage and support independence- Along with allowing children to try new things, encouraging and supporting independence can go a long way in teaching a child they can trust themselves. Start with clear expectations, but don’t expect perfection. As a parent, let go of the fear of judgment and pain your child will experience if things don’t go perfectly. Allow them space to make mistakes as they learn and navigate new terrain. Guide them through these mistakes, so they see you as a guide on the side and their biggest cheerleader. Out-of-town school class trips are an excellent way for students to practice their decision-making and independence with the guidance of chaperones. At Ascension, students in middle school take class trips each year, which allows students to practice their independence and parents to practice supporting and trusting their children.
- Foster spiritual growth – Spiritual growth means igniting a drive in children to want to share their God-given talent and know that all things are possible through Him. Give your child opportunities to serve others. By serving others before themselves, they have an opportunity to share love, grow in their faith, and have a better understanding of God’s love for them. In addition to attending chapel four days a week, Ascension middle schoolers serve on our chapel council and participate in multiple community service opportunities. As a result of these activities, students are reminded of God’s love every day and are able to share it with others. When the focus is on others, our problems often shrink in magnitude. These opportunities at Ascension help our students learn to become servant leaders.
To help our kids survive middle school, the one true thing our kids need is a connection. A true connection involves honesty, vulnerability, and trust, which takes time and maturity. Peers usually cannot provide this deep connection, which is where adults in our children’s lives become so important. Beyond parenting, Ascension Episcopal School teachers, coaches, counselors, and administrators know the value of these connections and support parents on their journey of not only helping their students survive middle school but THRIVE in middle school and beyond!
Ascension Episcopal School is a day school with approximately 660 students in PK3 through twelfth grade located on three campuses around Lafayette. Ascension is committed to educational excellence in a Christian environment. To learn more about Ascension, please visit our website www.ascensionbluegators.org or call (337) 233-9748 ext. 501 to schedule a tour.
About the Author
Rachel Delcambre was born in New Iberia, LA and raised in Broussard, where she currently resides with her husband and two daughters. A graduate of ULL, Rachel is currently in her 18th year at Ascension and began there in 2005 as a middle school math teacher. After nine years in the classroom, she changed the focus from educating students to educating Ascension teachers in her role as Educational Technology Specialist. Currently, she is serving as the Director of Communications and enjoys educating our community about all Ascension has to offer. When not at work, you can find her in her garden, at the theatre, or near water and trees.