Middle School Survival Guide Challenge No. 2: Acquiring new academic tools

This is the second article in a three-part series on helping young students transition from elementary school into middle school (intermediate schools in the case of the Washington County School District). The following tips have been provided by the Sylvan Learning Center in St. George. 

ST. GEORGE – While it may be summer now, school will begin soon enough. For St. George-area students who said goodbye to elementary school earlier this year, this fall represents the start of a critical transition to middle school.

Middle school means new beginnings, experiences and challenges. And while these changes —new friends, new teachers and new school environment — can be exciting, they also can be a bit unnerving for new middle-schoolers.

Here are some of the most daunting changes local students will encounter during this year of transition — and some tips from Sylvan Learning on how to work through them successfully.

Challenge: Acquiring New Academic Tools

Time Management: Work together on a schedule and develop an organizational system with your student. Acknowledge and make allowances for anxiety; at first, your student may need to carry everything for all classes all the time in order to feel prepared.

General Skills Preparation: Summarizing, paraphrasing, and identifying main or important ideas and details are three skills that are essential in all content areas. After reading a book or watching a show/movie, have kids summarize what happened orally. Or have them recount the most important events.

Note-Taking: The workload and pace really pick up in middle school, so note taking is going to be critical for them to keep up.  Start encouraging your child to develop a method of shorthand to prepare for
note-taking.  Writing grocery lists and directions are simple ways for kids to practice. Show them your own writing shortcuts. Note-taking is not automatic; the more examples kids see, the quicker they’ll acquire the skill.

Build their Problem Solving Skills: Common Core State Standards outline the knowledge and skills K-12 students need to acquire for post-high school success. Included in the CCSS are Standards for Mathematical Practice, many of which focus on academic behaviors and attitudes such as perseverance, constructing viable arguments, critiquing others’ arguments, and paying attention to precision. As a parent, you can do your part to help a student acquire these key behaviors and attitudes. Encourage perseverance by having your child work through problems — rather than you stepping in to fix them. Encourage your child to formulate opinions and back them up with sound reasoning. Encourage your child to do things correctly rather than just finish them.

Related article in the series: Middle School Survival Guide Challenge No. 1: Negotiating the new environment.

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