Middle school can be a challenging time for students and their parents. Love and support are two gifts parents can give their children that will help them succeed in school. With this love and support, students feel better about themselves and bring their confidence and “Can Do” attitude to school. Parents can build confidence in these ways:
Be generous with praise
Praise and criticism are important for students to hear. Make an effort to give more praise than criticism and comment on what your child is doing well. Then approach the negative in a positive way. For example: “Jose, your English teacher says you are getting along well with your peers and have a wonderful sense of humor. It also looks like you need to spend more time preparing your weekly assignments.” (HINT: Notice “but” was not used; “but” can negate or diminish the positive.)
Encourage “personal best”
Middle school students are often comparing themselves to others. Encourage them to look at themselves and to strive for “individual bests” based on what they have done and their potential. Freedom to learn from mistakes is important in many aspects of life, including school. For example: “Amanda, on your last Math homework, you had 5 of 10 correct, let’s see if we can bring that up to 7 of 10 this week”.
Make your priorities clear
Your positive attitude toward school, teachers, counselors, attendance and involvement in school is contagious and your child will catch it. For example, dedicate 10 minutes each night to go through each class and review what your child accomplished.
At the start of each quarter, set 3 or 4 goals. Be specific and establish clear rewards. Keep written goals where they will be seen every day. For example, one goal on the refrigerator can state: “Joe will attend the peer tutoring program at lunch and will gain the privilege of skateboarding during school break.”