As you begin middle school with your first child, it’s easy to get ambitious and create a plan that not only challenges your child but overwhelms them. Been there, done that. After dragging four young men through middle school, my advice to find their weaknesses and work on those.
Middle school is three years that you do not need to document in a serious way. Colleges are interested in high school and test scores. Take advantage of these years to build up your child’s basic skills. This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. This means I may receive a small commission if you purchase anything through these links. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Reading levels vary widely in middle school. Some kids are just exercising their fluent reading muscles while other kids can handle whatever you toss their way. Rather than having a set list of books for your child to read each year, consider alternating – he chooses one, you choose the next. Read alongside him. Pick points where you get together and talk about what you’re reading (every 1-2 chapters). If, by seventh grade, your child is still struggling with reading/comprehension, consider visiting a developmental opthamologist, your pediatrician or even consulting with specialists in your school district (most often free). There might be an underlying problem that you can address with a few tweaks. Here are some really great books for middle school.
If you’re lucky, you have a child that loves to write and has a natural inclination for spelling and grammar. If you’re like most of us, your child writes reluctantly and struggles to get his thoughts transferred from his brain to his pencil and ultimately to paper. Writing can be learned. I am a huge fan of the Institute for Excellence in Writing. It is formulaic, but it works. Encourage your middle-schooler to keep a journal (that you don’t check) to get him in the habit of putting his thoughts in writing. One thing we did that worked was keeping a “Mom/Dad” journal. We had one notebook for each boy. They could write complaints, questions or observations into a notebook and leave it on our dresser. In turn, we would answer as best we could. It’s a great way to keep an open dialog going for even the touchiest subjects. It is also a way to get your child to write and think hard about what he’s writing.
There is no sense in plowing ahead in math if your child has not mastered the basics – adding, subtraction, multiplication and division. Middle school is THE time to address any issues. It might feel like a step backwards, but you will save time and weepy math sessions in the future. Basic math should come naturally to your child. If it doesn’t, back up and review until it does. There are so many math programs available right now. Find what works for your child if what you’re using is not working. It might take all three years of middle school, but it’s worth doing. If your child struggles, look into Math U See and the Life of Fred series.
Middle school is the time to fill in the gaps, revisit old material and generally shore you child up for high school. If your child has not fully learned the material, it’s not progress to move on to the next thing. Slow down, master the material and you’ll be glad when high school rolls around.
Some of my favorites: