The Best Tips for Middle School Parents Ever

tips for middle school

As your child enters middle school, you can do a few things to help them survive and thrive! The transition from elementary to middle school is a big one, and it’s important to make sure your child prepares for all the changes that come with it.

Here are the best tips for middle school parents!

20 tips for middle school parents

1. Prepare them for the transition.

The transition from elementary to middle school can be a big adjustment for kids. If you have a child making this transition, you can do a few things to help them prepare.

Ways You Can Help:

  • Attend any orientation programs or tours for incoming students.
  • Once you get your child’s schedule for the year, take them on a walk-through. Do as many walk-throughs as it takes for your child to feel comfortable. If they know the location of their classes, it will ease first-week jitters!
  • Give them plenty of opportunities to practice using their locker and its combination. Lockers are one of the biggest things middle school students worry about during the first week! For locker decoration inspiration, see Make Your Middle School Lockers Pop With Cool Decor.
  • Print out a copy of your tween’s class schedule and ask them to keep it in their backpack. That way, if they forget it or lose track of where they are supposed to be, they’ll have a copy handy.

See What to Expect on the First Day of Middle School.

2. Establish rules and boundaries.

As your child enters middle school, it’s normal for them to want more independence. However, it’s essential to establish rules and boundaries early on, so your middle schoolers know your expectations.

Here are a few tips for middle school parents:

  • Set clear expectations for behavior at home and in school. Knowing your expectations will help your child understand what is acceptable and what is not.
  • Be consistent.
  • Explain the consequences of breaking the rules.
  • Allow your child to have a voice in setting the rules. If they feel heard, it helps them feel invested in following them.

When you set your rules, some things to consider are academic and social expectations, social media usage, cell phone usage, and chores around the home. 

For more on setting rules and boundaries for your middle schooler, see Want to Set Better Rules for Your Tween? Here’s How.

rules for middle schoolers

By establishing rules and boundaries from the outset, you can successfully help your child transition into middle school.

3. help them find opportunities to make new friends.

Some tweens struggle to socialize on their own. During the middle school years, the burden no longer rests with parents to set up “playdates.” So, how can you help?

A few things to keep in mind:

Encourage Them to Join Clubs or Activities. Joining a club or activity is an excellent way for middle schoolers to meet new people who share their interests.

Help Them Connect with Classmates. You can help your child do this by encouraging them to sit with different people at lunch, participate in class discussions, and join after-school activities.

As your child makes new friends, it’s essential to learn to be a good friend. Teach them the importance of communication, compromise, and respect. Help them understand that it’s worth it.

4. Encourage Them to Get Involved in School Activities.

School activities are a great way for middle schoolers to get involved in their education and make new friends. Middle schoolers have a variety of new extracurricular activities to choose from, such as student council, yearbook committee, sports, musical ensembles, etc., and there’s something for everyone.

Here are a few tips for helping your child make the most of school activities:

  • Get them involved early. The sooner your child gets involved in school activities, the easier it will be for them to feel like a part of the school community.
  • Identify activities that interest your child. There are usually a lot of different activities to choose from, so pick ones that fit and sound fun.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic.
  • Encourage your child to try something new. My 6th grader tried ski club this year and loved it! You never know–your child might find a new hobby or passion.

POWER tip for middle school parents: Don’t go overboard with activities. You don’t want to overwhelm and overschedule your tween. 

5. HELP THEM WITH THEIR HOMEWORK.

Homework can be a drag for tweens, especially when juggling extracurricular activities. Your child will need your help! Middle school might be the first time they have REAL homework. 

Here are a few ideas:

  • Sit down with them each night and go over their homework together. This way, you can help them identify any areas that are giving them trouble and offer advice on approaching assignments or tests.
  • Create a dedicated space for doing homework. It should be quiet and free from distractions like TV and video games. Ask your middle schooler to turn off their phone during study time. For tips on setting up a home study environment, see How to Create an Amazing Home Study Space for Your Tweens.
  • Encourage them to take breaks every 20 minutes or so. Breaks will help them stay focused and avoid burnout.
  • Help them develop a study schedule for upcoming tests and exams. This way, they can plan and avoid last-minute cramming.

For more on studying, see The Best Study Skills for Middle School.

6. ENCOURAGE THEM TO STAY ORGANIZED.

You can do a few things to encourage your middle schooler to stay organized.

First, help them establish a routine for getting things done. Your routine might include setting aside time each day for homework and carrying a planner to track upcoming tests and assignments.

Second, provide them with the tools they need to stay organized, such as a filing system for papers and a good quality backpack. See Essential Kids Desk Organization Ideas for Busy Students (and Parents)!

Finally, model good organizational habits yourself.

By following these tips, you can help your middle schooler develop their skills to stay organized and succeed in school.

Power tip for middle school parents: Middle schoolers need paper planners (versus digital) at this stage. Paper planners help them visualize all they need to do for the week. Encourage them to add club meetings or games to their planner. For example, see this one or this one.

tips for middle school

7. monitor their grades (but don’t obsess).

The most important thing to develop during the middle school years is good study habits. These days, most schools have an online portal where parents can check their kids’ daily grades. Our local school uses PowerSchool.

Before getting upset about a grade, consider taking a step back to assess your child’s progress. Are they generally getting good grades? If so, there’s no need to obsess over a lousy quiz score or an off day. However, if your child is struggling academically, it’s worth a conversation.

If you talk to your tween about their grades, make sure you understand why they struggle. Is there a particular subject they’re having problems with? Or are they not putting forth enough effort?

See How to Talk to Your Child About a Bad Grade.

8. teach them how to balance school and social life.

As kids enter adolescence, they begin to pull away from their parents and become more independent. At the same time, they’re also dealing with increased academic demands and social pressure. It can be challenging for parents to strike the right balance between giving their children the freedom to grow and providing the support and guidance they need.

Here are a few tips to help you teach your middle schooler how to balance school and social life:

  • Teach your child to identify what’s most important to them and to set priorities accordingly. For example, if they have a big test coming up, they need to study rather than hang out with friends. It’s ok to say no! Help them prioritize their time.
  • Encourage them to get involved in extracurricular activities. Participation in sports or clubs can help middle schoolers learn essential life skills like time management and teamwork. It can also give them a chance to blow off steam and have fun outside of school.
  • Teach them how to manage stress. Help your child identify healthy ways to deal with stress, such as exercise, journaling, or talking to a trusted adult.
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9. teach them time management skills.

Middle school can be a big adjustment for both parents and children. Gone are structured nap times and easy-to-follow schedules. There are more complicated class schedules, after-school activities, and social pressures in their place.

Here are three tips for middle school parents to get you started:

  1. Encourage your child to develop a daily routine. Get your middle schooler used to waking to an alarm! A set bedtime and wake-up time can go a long way toward helping your child stay on track during the day.
  2. Help your child plan ahead. Encourage them to look at the week ahead and identify potential conflicts or difficult tasks. Planning will help your child be better prepared when faced with challenging situations. 
  3. Teaching your child how to prioritize is another crucial life skill. Help them learn to identify which tasks are most important and need to be completed first. Prioritizing helps prevent last-minute scrambling and stress. 

10. teach them how to deal with stress and anxiety.

Middle schoolers are dealing with new academic challenges, social pressures, and the physical changes of adolescence. It’s no wonder that many middle schoolers suffer from stress and anxiety. As a parent, you can’t take away all of your child’s stressors, but there are things you can do to help them cope.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Encourage your child to talk to you about what’s going on in their life. Listening and showing support can help them to feel better.
  • Help them develop healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, journaling, or deep breathing. These activities can help to calm and focus the mind.
  • Download the Headspace App and teach your kiddo how to meditate when they feel anxious.
  • Teach them how to set realistic goals and manage their time. Having a plan and a sense of control can help to reduce stress levels.
  • Encourage them to socialize and connect with their friends. Spending time with loved ones is a great way to reduce stress.
  • Talk to their teachers or school counselor if you’re concerned about their academic performance or social interactions. These professionals can offer valuable insight and support.

POWER tip for middle school parents: Both my middle schoolers have a predisposition to developing anxiety. Once a week, I do one-on-one anxiety check-ins where I ask them to rate their anxiety on a scale of 1-10. Sometimes, this offers them the opportunity to open up about an issue affecting them and causing them stress. It might work for you, too! 

11. HELP THEM MANAGE THEIR EMOTIONS.

You’re not alone if you’re struggling to help your middle schooler manage their emotions. It’s a tough time for everyone involved, but there are some things you can do to ease the process.

First, try to be understanding and patient. It’s important to remember that your child is going through many physical and emotional changes. They may not always react in the way you expect or want them to, but it’s necessary to give them the space to express themselves.

Second, provide structure and routine. Setting times for homework, meals, and bedtime can help your child feel more secure and grounded.

Finally, encourage positive coping mechanisms. Helping your child find healthy ways to deal with their emotions will benefit them now and in the future.

POWER tip for middle school parents: Choose the right time to engage in meaningful conversation with your tween. If they’re moody or tired, they won’t be receptive to anything you say. You’ll know when they’re ready if you tune in to their moods. 

12. ENCOURAGE THEM TO STAY FIT AND HEALTHY.

Anyone who has parented a tween knows that keeping them healthy and fit can be challenging. Tweens are at an age where they’re growing fast, and their bodies are changing; it’s essential to make sure they’re getting the nutrients they need and staying active.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Encourage them to eat a balanced diet. Growing tweens need many nutrients to support their growth, so make sure they eat various healthy foods. 
  • Make sure they’re getting enough sleep. Middle schoolers need around 9 hours of sleep per night, so create a bedtime routine that will help them wind down and get a good night’s rest.
  • Encourage them to be active. Physical activity is part of tweens’ physical and mental health, so encourage them to find an enjoyable activity and make it part of their daily routine.
  • Model healthy behavior. As a parent, you’re a role model for your child, so lead by example and make healthy choices. Show them that being fit and healthy is enjoyable and rewarding.

13. encourage them to get enough sleep.

You may not realize it, but sleep is just as crucial for middle schoolers as it is for babies. Getting enough quality sleep is essential for focus, concentration, and overall health. But with homework, extracurricular activities, and social media, it can be challenging for middle schoolers to get the shut-eye they need.

You can find the  American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for sleep here.

Here are some tips to help your middle schooler get a good night’s sleep:

  • Establish a regular bedtime and stick to it as much as possible. A set bedtime will help signal your child’s body that it’s time to wind down for the night.
  • Create a soothing bedtime routine. The routine could include taking a bath, reading a book, or writing in a journal. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that will help your child relax and transition into sleep mode.
  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom. The blue light from screens can interfere with sleep. Plus, having electronics in the bedroom can make it harder to wind down at night.
  • Make sure the bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. These are all ideal conditions for sleeping. If your child’s bedroom isn’t dark, consider investing in blackout curtains. And if it’s too noisy, white noise can help block out unwanted sounds.

Power tip for middle school parents: Invest in a white noise machine for your tween’s bedroom. My four children have been using noise machines since birth. At 17-years-old, my oldest still uses his every night! Our favorite is the Magicteam Sound Machines White Noise Machine.

14. talk to them about bullying.

You might be wondering how to talk to your middle schooler about bullying and cyberbullying.

Keep the following in mind:

Make sure that you are open and honest with your middle schooler about the subject. Your adolescent needs to feel comfortable talking with you.

Encourage your middle schooler to speak up if they see or experience bullying. Your tween can support classmates by standing up to bullies. Such courage can help to put a stop to bullying altogether.

Finally, remind your middle schooler that they can always come to you if they need help or support.

If your child is struggling with a bully, head to stopbullying.gov for more actionable steps you can take to support your child.

tips for middle school

15. encourage them to be independent.

Independence is key during the middle school years. When your child is growing and changing, they need to start taking responsibility for themselves.

As a parent, you can encourage your middle schooler to be independent by following these tips:

  • Encourage them to take on new responsibilities. Whether helping with chores around the house or taking on a leadership role in a club or activity, giving your child new responsibilities will help them feel more grown-up and capable.
  • Let them handle their hygiene (while you oversee from a distance). 
  • Teach them how to budget their time and resources. Budgeting includes helping them create a schedule for homework and extracurricular activities and teaching them how to manage their allowance or other money.
  • Talk to them about decision-making. Help them weigh the pros and cons of different choices, and teach them how to make the best decisions for them.
  • Encourage them to problem solve. When your child comes to you with a problem, resist the urge to fix it for them. Instead, help them figure out a solution on their own.

16. teach them how to manage money.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when teaching middle schoolers how to manage their money.

First, help them understand the basics of budgeting and saving. Budgeting includes teaching them how to track their allowance and set aside money for long-term goals.

Second, it’s crucial to stress the importance of financial responsibility. Responsibility means understanding the consequences of impulse spending and the importance of paying bills on time.

Finally, it’s helpful to provide resources that they can use to make informed financial decisions, such as websites, books, or even personal finance classes.

Read the following review on the book Make Your Kid a Money Genius for more epic tips!

POWER tip for middle school parents: You might set up an allowance schedule for your middle schooler that comes with household chores. All four of my children have a Greenlight debit card. I transfer their weekly allowance to their cards once they have completed all of their tasks.

tips for middle school

17. teach them to reach out to teachers for homework help.

A few things that middle school parents can stress when their tweens have academic issues:

Keep communication lines open, and teach them to be proactive about asking questions and communicating with their teacher regularly, both in and out of class. If they’re having trouble understanding something, they shouldn’t be afraid to speak up and ask for clarification.

It’s also important to be organized and take good notes. Solid organizational skills will help them keep track of what’s going on in class and make it easier to review the material later.

Finally, they shouldn’t hesitate to seek help from other sources, such as tutors or classmates. If they’re struggling with something, chances are someone else is too! By reaching out and getting assistance, they’ll be able to understand the material better and get back on track.

POWER tip for middle school parents: If a teacher holds extra math or language arts help during lunch or recess and your child needs help in those areas, they need to attend those sessions. Reinforce how much the extra help from the teacher will benefit them.

18. talk to them about social media safety.

Middle schoolers deal with the ever-present pressure of social media. It’s no wonder that four out of five parents say they are concerned about their child’s social media usage. 

But there are things you can do to ease your mind and help your child stay safe online.

Here are some tips for talking to your middle schooler about social media safety:

  1. Set expectations early on. Discuss your family’s rules and expectations around social media usage before your child starts using it. 
  2. Model healthy behavior yourself. Be mindful of your own social media usage and model the behavior you want to see from your child. They’re likely to do the same if you’re constantly checking your phone or spending hours scrolling through feeds.
  3. Talk about online predators. Unfortunately, some people use social media to prey on children. Help your child understand how to spot red flags and tips for staying safe online (like not sharing personal information or meeting up with someone they met online).

19. help them set goals.

Parents must help their middle schoolers set goals.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Talk to your child about their dreams and aspirations. What do they want to achieve in the short-term and long-term? Help them break down their goals into smaller, more manageable steps.
  • Encourage your child to take on new challenges. Trying new things is a great way to learn more about oneself and develop new skills.
  • Help your child identify their strengths and weaknesses. This self-awareness will help them set realistic goals.
  • Support your child as they work towards their goals. Help them celebrate their successes, big and small. Offer encouragement and advice, but let them lead the way.
tips for middle school

20. keep them reading!

As any middle schooler knows, reading is central to the school curriculum. But why is reading so important?

Reading improves your writing skills. The more you read, the better you’ll understand grammar and syntax, and the easier it will be to put your thoughts into words.

Reading broadens your horizons. By exposure to different ideas and cultures, you’ll start to see the world in new and exciting ways.

Reading improves your memory. When you read a book, you have to remember a lot of information – characters’ names, plot points, etc. Practice can help sharpen your memory.

Finally, reading helps to relax and de-stress. After a long day of classes and extracurricular activities, it can be nice to curl up with a good book.

See 6 Ways to Get Your Tween Excited About Reading and Why Recreational Reading Is Important.

Final Thoughts on tips for middle school parents…

As a middle school parent, it’s beneficial to stay ahead of the curve and know what tips will help your child thrive in school. We’ve shared 20 tips for middle school that should be at the top of your list. From assisting them in setting goals to getting them reading, these tips will help you support your child as they navigate their way through middle school. For monthly book recommendations, writing tips, and parenting advice, subscribe to my email.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Cristina

    We are not yet there but time flies by and before I know it, both kids will start middle school. These tips are great. I think it’s really important to teach kids this age how to balance school and social life, and how to manage their emotions and anxiety. Think you for this great post

  2. Jenn

    Great tips, you’ve hit all the major issues and concerns that I deal with my two middle school daughters right now! Bullying, learning how to study, learning how to use a routine – those are all essential tips for helping middle schoolers!

  3. Rachel

    These are all such crucial tips! I liked your suggestion of having your tween practice their locker combination. That would help alleviate some of the initial stress of starting middle school!

  4. Justine

    My kids aren’t anywhere near middle school age yet but these are fantastic tips. I think the most important one is to not obsess over the grades and as you said, discuss with your child instead. Whether it’s because of an off day, lack of interest, etc, getting upset doesn’t help anyone. Being understanding is the best thing you can do for a middle schooler, especially since these are the years they’re prone to push their parents away most!