This featured business post was brought to you by Brookfield Christian School. Learn more about one local mom’s story and how her experience at BCS helped her child transition to middle school well.
Transitioning to Middle School
Recently, I stood in my driveway and waved my son off as he rode his bike to his first day of sixth grade and ultimately his first day of middle school. I felt happy and almost a bit giddy as he began a new phase of his life. Full disclosure: this is my second son and I’ve done this before. As I stood in the driveway with a smile still on my face, my 8th grade son appeared. He was his usual cool self, walking casually to school so he could get there just at the right time. This, however, was not the case two years ago when he started his first day of middle school. Let me take you back so you can see the difference.
September 2014. We are up WAY too early. I laid out clothes the night before, snacks and lunch were packed and the backpack was set out. I had my son ready for school at least 20 minutes before we needed to leave, ‘cause you never know what might pop up and throw us off. Of course, we took the obligatory picture by the front door, with the ‘good’ camera, my iPhone and my husband’s iPhone. You never know where the best picture is going to come from! We walked to school together and got there 5 minutes before the first bell. I stood there asking him 20 questions – Do you have your lunch? Do you have your supplies? Did you brush your teeth? And then I left him. I left my baby. He was ready, but I was scared. I walked back with tears in my eyes and as I walked I passed the 8th graders . . . Let’s just stop here – Have you ever compared an 8th grader with a 6th grader? If you’re a newly minted 6th grade mom, don’t do it. It’s a little scary – 8th graders are HUGE! So I went home, had a good cry and chewed my nails for the next 8 hours until he came home.
Back to the present. I learned a lot in the past 2 years, but the number one thing is this: It’s gonna be ok! I’m sure my experience will be different since every child is different, but ultimately, it’s going to be all right! Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way:
Encourage your middle schooler to try new things and that mistakes are not the end of the world.
Middle school is only three years of your life and your child’s life, but it can seem like eternity. This is the time for your middle schooler to learn new things and to make mistakes. Guess what? Mistakes in middle school can be some of the best life lessons your child will ever learn. At our school, they’ve made it known middle school is a safe place to make mistakes. Your child might have to talk to the principal, or you might have a call from their teacher, but everyone is on the same team trying to help your student grow. We’ve had a couple of big mistakes made, and it was an opportunity for us to reassess where we were at and to change things. Looking back, both my son and I were thrown for a loop at the time, but I’m so glad that he made it when he did. We both learned and kept moving forward.
Make your presence known at school.
A lot of people want to take middle school off after volunteering (or over-volunteering) in elementary school. This is understandable, but you want your child’s teachers and principal to know who you are and how invested you are in your child’s future. Our school has many ways for parents to get involved both at school and at home, big and small. Find a way you can get plugged in. The school will appreciate it, and your child will see that you care, too. Getting involved offers an opportunity for you to model to your child what it means to serve and lead at school. It’s also easier to make connections and know what’s going on, and it sends a positive message to your child about taking the first step to meet others. Many schools offer a principal chat – a time where you can get the inside scoop on what is going on at school, give feedback, etc. so go at least once!
Get to know your child’s friends and their parents.
In middle school, navigating friendships and relating to classmates can be much more challenging. At this age, kids are figuring out who they are, starting to identify with people who are like them, and learning (sometimes by getting it wrong a few times) to relate to and interact with those who are different. These are lessons they will take with them and apply for the rest of their lives. Get to know child’s friends and classmates! Drive for field trips, help out at school, and if you can, invite people over. If your school has a social event like a movie night or dance, why not host a pizza party before? Have a half day of school? Invite the guys or girls from your child’s class over to hang out after school for lunch and some video games or board games. This gives you the opportunity to meet these new friends and their parents, as well as see how they interact for an hour or so. We took it a bit further and had a barbecue with my son’s friends and parents. It’s good to get to know the other parents, where they stand on things like electronics and technology and to let them know your rules that you enforce for your child.
While we are on the subject, let’s discuss technology. Likely, your child will be asking for a phone, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever new app is hot at the moment. Establish your rules early and enforce them regularly. Personally, we did not get my son a phone, but he does have a tablet where he can text his friends. He knows that I check those texts periodically as well as Instagram and search history. We established this early on so there wasn’t any question on the rules and so far, it’s worked out great.
Embrace new routines.
This one was tough for our family. We’ve always had our kids in bed by 8:00 and suddenly my middle schooler was asking to stay up later to fit in homework and some downtime. Activities start to increase in middle school, and it affects everything from homework to family dinners and bedtimes. Try to figure out how your family can have dinner together at least twice a week. This is a time of sharing for families and you can learn a lot about what is happening in your child’s life in a short 30 minute timeframe. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Sometimes pancake night or ordering pizza can bring out the best in everyone. And if you have to adjust bedtimes, do so. It took us until 7th grade to get this one right. You might have to DVR your favorite show or set aside that book you’ve been wanting to pick up again, but this time with your middle schooler is precious and won’t be there forever. Set down the remote, turn off the smartphone and be there for your son or daughter. Even if you have to Google how to help with that Algebra problem, or what on earth Pokemon Go is, you’ll never regret it.
Enjoy the moment.
Middle school can seem like an eternity, but believe me it goes fast. My heart hurts a little and I get a lump in my throat when I think about this year being the last year of middle school for my oldest. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I also thank God for the little glimpses of who my son is turning into. That is what you need to look for in the three years of middle school. This is where your child will start to figure out what they want to be, who they really are and what their priorities are. You can gently steer them, but I encourage you to take a step back and just watch. Watch them with their friends, watch them with their teachers and watch them with strangers. They are becoming the adults God has created them to be and it’s awesome to see. And that, my friends, is the gift of middle school.
Brookfield Christian School
Are you interested in learning more about Middle School (or any grade) at Brookfield Christian School? Brookfield Christian School is a 3K-8th grade independent Christian school located in Brookfield, WI, near the intersection of Lilly and Burleigh Roads. Middle School students (6th-8th) are given opportunities to learn more about who they are with opportunities in athletics, music and drama, student council and more. Students gain valuable leadership experience interacting with their peers and students in younger grades. They further develop independence and personal responsibility in a nurturing environment, preparing them for a successful “launch” into high school.
Contact [email protected] or call (262) 782-4722 to schedule a time to visit, or plan to attend an Open House on Wednesday, November 2 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Visit www.brookfieldchristian.org or check them out on social media for more information.