Thoughtful Parenting: Advice for entering middle school

Colleen O’Gorman/For Steamboat Today

Kids grow up fast, and parents always say they do not know where the time went. Changes — from learning to talk and walk to going to preschool, grade school, middle school, high school and college — all seem to happen in the blink of an eye. With this growth and development come new, sometimes scary adventures. The thing to remember is every child, parent and family is different. Just being there for your child to listen during these transitional times is the most important thing you can do.

I asked 25 Boys & Girls Club Steamboat Springs middle school members some questions about how they feel/felt about entering middle school. It was neat to see that some kids’ fears were other kids’ excitements. These excitements and fears included such things as being given more freedom, having their own lockers, having multiple classrooms and teachers, losing friends, making new friends, sports and changing relationships between boys and girls. The biggest fears that no one was excited about dealt with upper classmen, not fitting in and homework.

I then asked seventh- and eighth-graders if they had any advice for the incoming sixth-grade class.

Emily S. said, “Don’t be scared, there is nothing to worry about.”

Kira S. advised, “Have fun and stay out of the drama.”

Molly L. offered, “Don’t let the older kids get you down.”

And multiple other kids counseled their younger counterparts to avoid being the ‘bad’ kid and to have fun, decorate your locker, be open to new friendships, join clubs, try new sports, keep up with your homework and study.

Support your child during this transition time. I spoke with multiple middle school teachers, and they offered some advice for parents, as well. Many of them agreed on the importance of teaching children to stay organized, attending the middle school orientation day, attending back-to-school night, asking questions, encouraging children to sign up for at least one club, reading for fun and teaching children how to advocate for themselves.

Mrs. Zeigler, a sixth-grade teacher from Steamboat Middle School, has some great advice for parents and incoming sixth graders.

“Be ready to let your kids make their own mistakes … on their own. At middle school, we teachers understand that, with more freedom comes more responsibility. We want students to practice these skills to be ready for the real world, which include making commitments, having positive attitudes, being respectful and responsible and being OK with making mistakes. Struggles and mistakes are what help us learn best. Be engaged with the people and events going on around you.Finally, use the resources available to you. Teachers and their class websites are the best resources.”

Colleen O’Gorman is unit director of the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs and vice president of the RCYSC and member of HRC and ISST.

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