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Are there any special considerations and new responsibilities I should be aware of as a middle school parent?

In addition to providing your child with such basic needs as safe, adequate housing, clothing, and food, parents are also expected to provide a supportive learning environment that encourages children to academically succeed. Parental influence can have a significant impact on a child's development. A parent who regularly participates and is actively involved in his/her child's school can truly make a difference. Parents are expected to:

  • Establish a daily family routine. Studies show that successful students have parents who create and maintain family routines. Children perform better in school when they know what is expected of them and what they can anticipate. Establishing a daily family routine includes setting aside time and a quiet place for your child to study, reviewing your child's schoolwork, assigning household duties, and establishing and maintaining rules.

  • Make sure your child is prepared and ready to learn. Before your child sets off for school, it is important for you to ensure that he/she eats nutritiously balanced meals, gets enough sleep, and has the necessary school supplies. It is also important for you to regularly review your child's homework assignments.

  • Be an example for your child. Effective modeling includes sleeping and eating properly, displaying a positive attitude toward education, having regular conversations with your child, reading in front of your child, attending school events, and showing your child how to use and research reference materials at the library.

  • Encourage your child's development and progress in school. Encourage your child to learn by maintaining a positive, academic environment in the home, discussing the importance of education, reviewing report cards and teacher comments with him/her, exposing your child to a variety of educational and social opportunities, communicating with your child's teachers, and being involved in your child's school.

  • Meet with your child's teachers. In addition to knowing how your child is performing at school, teachers can also provide you with information about what is going on at the school in general and how your child is progressing in comparison to the state standards and other children his/her age. Teachers can also provide you with additional tips that will aid your child in academically succeeding and grasping important concepts and skills. Always talk to your child's teacher when any problems or concerns arise. Families who stay informed about their children's progress at school have higher-achieving children.

  • Control your child's school attendance. Your child cannot do well in school if they are frequently absent or tardy or leave before the end of the school day. When you allow your child to be absent for unnecessary reasons, you are telling your child that school doesn't matter and that it is okay not to go to school. Take children out of school only when necessary. Try to schedule family vacations, doctor appointments, and other controllable events around school vacations or when the school operates on a half-day schedule. If your child is absent, call the school to get the missed assignments and ensure that your child completes and returns them in a timely manner. Talk to your child's teachers about attendance matters as they arise.

  • Maintain a positive attitude. If you have a positive attitude toward education, your children will most likely adopt a positive attitude and will be more motivated to learn. Communicate to your child the difficulties you faced while in school and how you overcame them. Help your child to see the importance of academic subjects and how they are relevant in life. Be mindful of the words you use when expressing concerns about the school system or a particular school, teacher, or other school staff member.

  • Support your child. Be available for your child, supporting and assisting them when needed. Your child must feel secure in the fact that you are there to support and assist him/her with school. Setting aside a designated time and place for your child to do homework and for you to review it is an example of support.

  • Help your child with homework or seek additional assistance. Your child will need help with his/her homework. If you are unable to assist your student, be sure to discuss the matter with his/her teacher to find out what extra support opportunities are available for him/her. Other options you may want to explore are private tutors, tutoring programs, or after-school academic assistance programs. Check with your school and local community organizations to see what is available.

  • Set priorities. In order for your child to succeed in school, you must make education a top priority. There are many outside activities that your child may want to participate in, including sports and social events. Extracurricular activities should be monitored and should not take the place of or interfere with your child's education.

  • Provide consistency. Consistency comes in many forms, including discipline and household management. Your child needs a consistent, stable environment in order to succeed in school. At the middle school level, children develop creative reasoning and negotiating skills. During this time, they will frequently try to test authority and bargain with their parents. While giving your child more responsibilities and an increased sense of independence is part of allowing them to grow up, you must still provide guidance and set guidelines.

  • Provide limits. Discuss household rules and expectations with your child. Help him/her to understand what is expected and what the consequences are if these expectations are not met.

  • Communicate with your child. Studies show that frequent, open family discussions are associated with higher student achievement. Talk with your child and listen to your child. Allow your child to tell you what is going on in his/her life using his/her own words.

  • Provide rewards and consequences. Rewards and consequences help children to distinguish between right and wrong choices and actions. They help children to take responsibility for themselves. Be sure to discuss rewards and consequences with your child so that he/she knows what is expected of him/her as well as what he/she can expect. Rewards may include staying out an hour later, enjoying an ice-cream treat, or visiting a favorite amusement park or restaurant.

  • Be involved. Be involved in your child's school as much as possible. Try to attend parent meetings and school activities. Communicate with the school staff frequently.

  • Stay informed. The more you know about what is going on at school, the better you will be able to prepare your child. In addition to paying attention to all school publications, be sure to familiarize yourself with the expectations the school and teachers have for your child. Knowing these expectations will aid you in helping your child meet all educational goals.

  • Celebrate your child. Parents who celebrate the unique qualities and attributes of their children in their presence tend to have students who possess a higher self-esteem and perform better in school. Be sure to praise your child often and express how much you appreciate him/her. Discuss your child's successes and accomplishments as well as the challenges that have been overcome. This will also aid your child in feeling that he/she is capable of achieving and succeeding and will encourage him/her to perform.

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