Our experts this week are two 14-year-old girls who are entering high school this year. Having lived through what some say are the toughest years, we thought their insight on Surviving Middle School might be helpful. If you have a teen entering middle school this fall, this 5 MInute Insight column might be for you!
We usually have pictures of our experts, but they requested not to have their photos shown. If we have learned anything from these two great girls, it’s that they value their privacy. We respect that and are happy to share their great advice.
8 Tips for Surviving Middle School
What is the biggest difference between elementary and middle school?
Freedom. In middle school you finally have freedom. No more walking in lines. You can talk in the hall.
Choices. There are a lot more activities to choose from in middle school: student council, theater/musicals, electives/extensions (classes you can choose that are outside of the regular academic schedule).
Classroom Diversity. You switch classes for every subject in middle school. This is an upgrade because if you don’t like a particular teacher, your next subject might give you a better option.
What are your 3 tips for surviving middle school?
Be organized. If you have a locker, keep it organized. If you can keep your books/folders/notebooks together by subject in your locker it’s much easier. Figure out a plan that will enable you to know where everything is when you need it.
Be prepared. Listen to what each teacher expects and go to each class with everything you need. The consequences in middle school are more serious if you don’t listen and follow directions.
Speak up. Teachers in middle school definitely expect more of you. If you are feeling overwhelmed or don’t understand something that the teacher covers, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most of the teachers will be available to meet both before and after school.
Three Strikes and You’re Out. As we said above, the consequences are greater in middle school. Make sure you understand them, particularly the rules for detention. Read the handbook at the beginning of the year. At our school there is a “Three strikes and you’re out” rule.
Don’t procrastinate. If you wait until the last minute to start working on projects you will be stressed out and your work will suffer.
How can you make new friends in middle school?
The easiest way is to meet them through your existing friends. Usually your friends will know someone else and can introduce you. You can also talk to other people in your classes, Because you are switching classes for every subject, you have a lot of opportunity to see and meet new people. Joining clubs is also a great way to find friends who are interested in the same things as you.
What did you fear most about starting middle school?
Not making it to class on time. Or, getting lost on the way to class. Don’t worry about this. Teachers won’t get mad for tardiness the first couple weeks. But, if you are more than 2-3 minutes it might be an issue. So, if you are feeling lost, ask someone for help.
Tell us a little about how to deal with boys in middle school.
MIddle school boys are immature. They swear a lot. Don’t be surprised if they make inappropriate jokes. Most (like 75%) smell – especially after recess. Be sure to stay away after they’ve been to gym!
What does “dating” mean in middle school?
In 6th grade it’s just that they like each other. They don’t even talk. In 7th grade they might go on group dates or talk/text. In 8th grade girls start to hang out more with boys. Sometimes they go on actual dates and take each other more seriously.
What do parents need to worry about most if their kids are in middle school?
In sixth grade, not much. Most of the kids are pretty innocent. As the kids get older there is a divide between good kids and bad kids. At our school we would say the good vs. bad is 75%/ 25%. As kids get older, look for signs of drinking, vaping and maybe even drugs.
What advice do you have for parents about dealing with social media?
The most important thing we can say is: If you want to see what your teen is doing on their phone, ask them for their phone, Don’t do it behind their back. If you do, your teen won’t trust you. If they don’t trust you, they will start to hide things from you.
Essential Mom Advice:
Don’t ask this question: What happened to [enter name of a friend you haven’t seen your daughter with in a while]? If we are still friends with them, we would be talking about them. If we aren’t bringing them up, we probably aren’t friends with them any longer.
Wait for your daughter to come to you to talk. If you hear about something from another mother and bring it up to your daughter, she will just get mad. Let her come to you.
Don’t be surprised if you can’t help with homework. Things have changed a lot since you’ve been in middle school so it’s hard for you to help a lot with our work.
You can learn more about what the hardest part is of being a teen here in 5 Minute Insight.