Editor’s Note: Next Generation School in Champaign is a sponsor of Chambanamoms.com. Thank you to Next Generation School!
NEXT GENERATION VALUES THE OPPORTUNITY TO PROVIDE AN OUTSTANDING EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS. WE MAXIMIZE EACH STUDENT’S OPPORTUNITY TO EXCEL BY CREATING A POSITIVE, CHALLENGING, AND ENCOURAGING LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. THE ATMOSPHERE OF OUR SCHOOL AND ACADEMIC NATURE OF OUR PROGRAM HAS A PROFOUND EFFECT ON THE LIVES OF OUR STUDENTS. BECAUSE THEY ARE CONTINUALLY CHALLENGED TO THINK CRITICALLY AND EXPLORE LIMITLESS POSSIBILITIES, OUR STUDENTS ARE WELL PREPARED FOR THE CHALLENGES THAT AWAIT THEM IN HIGHER EDUCATION AND BEYOND. PLEASE CONTACT OUR FRONT OFFICE (217.356.6995) TO INQUIRE ABOUT THE ADMISSIONS PROCESS AND AVAILABLE POSITIONS, OR TO SCHEDULE A TOUR. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SHARING THE BENEFITS OF AN NGS EDUCATION WITH YOU!
One minute you’re cuddling your baby girl, and the next she’s giving you an awkward hug or another eye roll. You can’t keep enough food in the fridge, and your son needs a new pair of shoes, again.
Our kids are growing up before our eyes, and now some of them are getting ready for Middle School. Champaign-Urbana area parents provided the following tips for having a middle schooler, although this list is not school or district specific. Take it all in:
For kids: Join an activity
“For my kids, two who are athletic and one who is not, I can’t recommend Cross Country enough. To put it simply. Join an activity, it helps build a connection.”
“The middle schools have a ton of opportunities for after school clubs/band/jazz band/sports. I would encourage checking those out to build a connection among peers and in the community.”
“My kids are playing instruments, I’m hoping the music kids help keep them out of trouble!”
For parents: Join a middle school parenting Facebook Group
“I recommend joining the FB Group Less Stressed Middle School Parents. It’s moderated by Michelle Icard, who wrote Middle School Makeover (also recommend). I’ve found it’s a great place to learn how other parents handle the common challenges with this age group and to be assured that others face the same questions and anxiety that I do.”
Explore your local school options
“My seventh grader goes to a large public middle school, and although the principal and teachers have been great and I have no specific complaints (except for mobile phones being allowed, GRRRR), I am uncomfortable with some things I think she is exposed to just by virtue of the large population. I haven’t ruled out private schools, but I feel that a private school most likely just has a different set of challenges to deal with.”
“My boys went to a local middle school and had a wonderful experience. However, that was several years back with different administration. My daughter will enter middle school in a couple years and we will evaluate/re-evaluate our options at that time.”
“My son and his elementary classmates had a really good transition to a local Middle School. All the parents joke that we wonder what we were so anxious about. He has heard a good deal more ‘interesting’ language at school, but he has also been exposed to great messages about inclusiveness. I did push him to try all the groups/activities that even mildly interested him at first, because it seems easier to explore with other sixth graders than to join later as kids don’t prefer to stick out at this age.”
“I feel my daughter transitioned well at our Middle School this past year. She has made new friends and has kept some old ones (although it didn’t help that they were on separate teams). I felt that the teachers really took good care of the 6th graders at the beginning of the year.”
Some school day tips
“It was recommended to me that we should buy appropriate (our school requires orange shirt/blue shorts) PE uniform clothes used and keep a laundry basket full of them.”
“The trick is trying to get them to bring the used ones (PE clothes) home…..as my junior higher would say–the struggle is real!”
“Buy two sets of PE clothes. Insist your child take the second set to school, then bring the dirty ones home. They won’t stink or lose points for not dressing.”
“Send deodorant for PE locker” Editor’s Note: We can vouch for this one!
“Get that huge $15 binder!”
Peer acceptance is EVERYTHING
“I’m not sure there have been any big surprises with the transition to middle school, but I’ve been reminded how very important social acceptance is at this age. It really is everything, and probably my No. 1 challenge is facilitating the normal need to be accepted by peers while defining and evaluating boundaries around technology and values. In my view the watchword for this stage of school is change…everything changes for everyone, constantly. Acknowledging that and keeping it in mind at all times (as well as the memory of how hard it was to be this age!) is a way to help middle schoolers AND parents feel more stable.”
The technology may be new, but the pressure to have the latest and greatest isn’t
“My son has friends at school who have better phones than my husband and I do. There is an intense pressure to have the latest and greatest gaming system/ phone/ computer. That being said, I remember this same pressure when I was in Middle School, and we explain that to our Middle Schooler, not that he appreciates our stories. The technology may have changed, but the desire to have all the things is the same. Our child will not be getting all the things because of our budget constraints and our parenting choices.”
“Learn your school’s policy on cell phones and have your child follow it.”
“Cell phones are a huge issue at this age. Who has them. Who doesn’t. We got our child a cell phone when she started to go to away school events. She knows that she has to follow our cell phone rules, as well as the school’s policies or it’s game over.”
Let them be independent, but know who they are hanging out with
“One hard thing for us to negotiate is new friends and therefore new families he was invited to spend time with. It kind of bugged him that I needed to get to know the family a bit before I allowed big outings with a new friend. But we kept talking it through as I explained my rules.”
“Offer to drive your child & buddies places when you can. You learn a lot about what is happening by listening quietly on drive!”
They eat. A LOT.
“They will eat A TON and have a huge growth spurt, maybe even towering over you!”
“Be prepared for your food budget to increase and a growth spurt of sorts. Our food budget nearly doubled having three teenage boys.”
Be Prepared for Hormonal Changes
“One of my sons entered middle school one child and came out the same day another.”
“I never know which version of my daughter will be coming down the stairs in the morning. She’s either still my little girl, or surly as heck.”
And the piece of advice that surprised us the most:
Cherish this Time
“They change so quickly during these years; cherish the moments.”
“Enjoy your kiddos — they grow up so fast — even if they don’t get taller, they get independent quickly!”
Do you have more tips we should add? Add them below in the comments, or email us – firstname.lastname@example.org.