Transitioning to Middle School: From Big Fish to Small

back to school

back to school

Credit: publicdomainpictures.net

Dear Mr. Dad: My son is starting middle school next week. His previous school was K-5 so this is a new one for him. He’s nervous and, honestly so am I. He’s a smart kid but has always had trouble finishing assignments and turning work in on time. I’m worried that if he does the same in middle school, he’ll be setting himself up for even more trouble in high school and beyond. What can I do to help him (and myself) get ready for this big transition?

The transition from elementary- to middle school is kind of like the transition from half-day preschool or kindergarten to full-day first grade: it’s going to be a huge change in your son’s—and your—life. Until now, he’s probably spent each school year in a single classroom with a single teacher and the schedule was largely the same every day. But now, that comfort and security is being replaced by different teachers in different classrooms—each with different rules, binders, homework policies, and learning environments. Middle school is also a lot more tech-heavy than elementary school. My daughter’s school, for example, has the kids use Google docs, which are accessible from anywhere, for all assignments. The old “the-dog-ate-my-homework” or “Oops-I-left-it­-at-home” excuses won’t fly anymore.
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Homework — Is It Your Child’s or Yours?

parent doing child's homework

parent doing child's homeworkDear Mr. Dad: I’m an involved dad and I often help my kids with their homework. Sometimes, in the interests of speeding things along, I give them the answers. Over the past year, both kids (11 and 9) are coming to me more and more often, asking for help even when I know they don’t need it. I tell them to figure it out, they whine, and eventually I give in to the pressure. How can I get them to start doing their work by themselves?

A: It’s great that you’re an involved dad—and it’s great that you’re taking an active role in your kids’ education. But by doing their homework for them (let’s be honest—that’s exactly what happening), you’re undermining their ability to learn good study habits. What’s far worse is that you’re sending them the very clear message that you don’t think they’re smart enough to do their own work. From what you say, they’re starting to believe you, and that’s tragic.

So the question you asked: How can you get the kids to start doing their work by themselves—is the wrong one. The real issue is: How (and when) are you going to stop caving when they ask for help that you acknowledge they don’t really need?

The answer is pretty simple: You need to stop cold turkey and you need to do it now.
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The Learning Habit + Hyper


Rebecca Jackson, co-author of The Learning Habit.
Topic:
A groundbreaking approach to homework that helps kids succeed in school and life.
Issues: Recent research on learning—what works and what doesn’t; managing our kids’ media use; supporting academic homework and reading; mastering time management; communicating effectively; learning to focus; developing self-reliance.



Timothy Denevi, author of Hyper.
Topic:
A personal history of ADHD.
Issues: What it’s like to be a boy who can’t stop screaming or fighting or fidgeting; startling stats about ADHD (1/5 of high-school-age boys and 11 percent of all school-age children have been diagnosed with ADHD; the evolution of drug treatments; understanding this complex and controversial diagnosis.

Pregnancy Myths + Manipulative Kids + Overcoming School Anxiety

[amazon asin=1594204756&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Emily Oster, author of Expecting Better.
Topic:
Why the conventional pregnancy wisdom is wrong–and what you really need to know.
Issues: Why it’s fine to have an occasional glass of wine; don’t worry about sushi–but wear gloves when you’re gardening; worry about gaining too little weight, not too much; why pregnancy nausea is a good sign; having a doula can decrease the chance of needing a C-section.


[amazon asin=0399535268&template=thumbleft&chan=default]David Swanson, author of Help–My Kid Is Driving Me Crazy.
Topic:
How kids manipulate their parents.
Issues: Why kids manipulate; Learning to recognize 17 distinct types of manipulate and what you need to do to disarm them.


[amazon asin=0814474462&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Diana Peters Meyer, author of Overcoming School Anxiety.
Topic:
Getting kids ready for school.
Issues: How to help your child deal with separation, tests, homework, bullies, math phobia, and other worries; telling the difference between normal start-of-school jitters and anxiety that warrants a call to the specialists.

The Homework Trap + Helping Your Kids without Freaking Out

[amazon asin=061557680X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Kenneth Goldberg, author of The Homework Trap.
Topic: How to save the sanity of parents, students, and teachers.
Issues: The science behind homework difficulties; what homework looks like from the student’s perspective; understanding the reasons behind children’s homework problems; why the suggestions and solutions you’ve been offering may be doing more harm than good.


[amazon asin=098399000X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Neil McNerney, author of Home Work.
Topic: How to help your child without freaking out.
Issues: Recognizing your personal strengths (and weaknesses) and using harnessing them; identifying the individual ways your child deals with homework and other stressors; learning to use three powerful leadership techniques to help your child achieve success.

Science of Homework Problems + Helping Kids with Homework + Employment Programs for Military Spouses and Veterans

[amazon asin=061557680X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Kenneth Goldberg, author of The Homework Trap.
Topic: How to save the sanity of parents, students, and teachers.
Issues: The science behind homework difficulties; what homework looks like from the student’s perspective; understanding the reasons behind children’s homework problems; why the suggestions and solutions you’ve been offering may be doing more harm than good.


[amazon asin=098399000X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Neil McNerney, author of Home Work.
Topic: How to help your child without freaking out.
Issues: Recognizing your personal strengths (and weaknesses) and using harnessing them; identifying the individual ways your child deals with homework and other stressors; learning to use three powerful leadership techniques to help your child achieve success.


Guest 3: CAPT Brad Cooper, Executive Director of Joining Forces.
Topic: Employment programs for military spouses and veterans.
Issues: Ensuring the professional licenses will be accepted nationwide; job training for returning veterans; ensuring that high school AP coursework will be accepted even if the student transfers mid-year; and much more.