Transitioning Your Child to Middle School

Katie-Pennington-Transitioning-to--Middle-School

As a high school principal with young kids, it’s a nice change to be with a different age group when I come home from work. Although what’s shocking to me is that my oldest son is going to be entering middle school next year! In the blink of an eye, my son will soon be a teenager, just like the kids who I work alongside with every day. You would think that as a high school principal, this transition would be easy for me since I somewhat serve as a guide to hundreds of teenagers. But it’s actually far from that.

You can tell I’m not taking this as well as you would think. So I turned to Google for help to cope with this change in my life. The tips I found were so relatable that I felt like I should write about this on my blog to help other parents like me experiencing this shock.

They Might Want to Get Involved with Extracurricular Activities

Elementary schools often don’t have extra-curricular activities like the school baseball or softball teams. However, middle schools do and this is new territory for parents and kids. Usually your child would catch the bus home after school or your would stay at an after-school program until you could pick them up after work. But extracurricular activities may keep your child after school long after the busses have left for the day. Talk to your child to see if they’re interested to participate in any activities. Chances are they might, and that opens up a whole new topic: ownership of a cell phone to stay in contact with your kids.

Cell Phones

These days it’s common for kids to have a cell phone at this age. Did you know the average age for a child to get a cell phone is 10? And it’s with good reason. Some parents work late, kids stay after school for activities and some going to friend’s houses after school. With your child hopping from place to place, parents still want to keep in contact with their kids.

Children’s cell phone ownership can be tricky, especially if they have a smartphone. It’s like they have access a world you can’t see in their pocket! As a parent, make sure you talk to your child about the proper use of a smartphone and use parental controls. I have some more guidance tips on a past blog I wrote here.

Help Them Adjust

Some elementary schools structure their schedule to have students switch teachers and classrooms throughout the day to help them adjust to middle school. Others do not, and children are stationary in one room all day. Middle school will be a significant change, as students hop from classroom to classroom and they won’t get to know their teachers and peers as well.

Your child will have to learn to self-regulate themselves to get to class. Talk to your child to see if they know where the lunchroom is, where the classrooms are, and how to effectively stop at their locker to switch out materials before the next class begins. Your child will also have to push themselves to make friends, since it might not be as easy as it was in elementary school where almost everyone class was their friend. Reassure your child that everyone his age will be new and everyone is going through the changes too.

3 Ways to Succeed at Family Meal Time

3 Ways to Succeed at Family Dinner

The start of the school year means a shift in the way you family operates on a daily basis. One of the first things that may fall off the wagon once September hits, is your evening meals together as a family. We’re all aware of the benefits of this time together. It strengthens the family unit. It’s correlated with higher GPA’s, lower risks of depression, and may even boost your toddler’s vocabulary more than reading aloud.

That all sounds great, but it’s still difficult to make it happen! With jobs, after school activities, sports, the logistics of the evening hours can be challenging to control. Here are a few ideas to help you make more of your evenings dedicated to this important event.

Don’t Set Yourself Up For Failure

The first rule of thumb when starting a new habit is to not bite off more than you can chew. All puns aside, don’t set yourself up for failure by mandating that your entire family must be seated at the table at 6pm each evening. That doesn’t sound fun or reasonable! Instead, start with finding a few nights a week where calendars align. Then, make the most of these nights together. Over time, you can hope to increase the frequency. But by starting small, you’ll be able to succeed in your goal, giving you the boost you need to continue on with the habit.

Dinner of steak and potatoes

Get Creative

If dinner time just won’t work for your family, why not change the hour of the day you spend together. Mornings may seem hard, but even spending 15 minutes together at the table while you eat your breakfast can change the course of your day in a positive way.

You could also consider taking the dinner in shifts. You may have a child running out the door while another one is returning home. Think of your kitchen having ‘open hours’. Keep meals simple–a crockpot is great–that will allow for multiple eating times. Strive to eat with somebody at each meal. You may not be able to all gather for the meal; but eating with at least one other person in your family will certainly work.

Find Shortcuts

Is the hardest part of dinner making it? If you’re like me, there are days after work that I don’t feel like cooking, eating, cleaning up. The process can seem so daunting that it scares people away! Don’t let it. Figure out what part of the process is hardest for you. Hate to plan and shop for meals? Consider getting a weekly food box delivered. Can’t seem to muster the energy to cook after a long day? Fire up that crockpot before work. Hate doing dishes? Assign the task to a person who’s not doing the cooking!

With the right mindset and a large dose of creativity, you can find ways to make family meals a tradition in your home. Stay positive. Cook and enjoy the foods you love.

What are your best secrets on dining together as a family? Send them my way!

Plate with fish