Middle School Facts for Tweens and Their Parents

What parents should know about the middle school years

The middle grade years can be challenging for your tween.
During the middle grade years tweens need strong organizational skills in order to make the most of test taking.

If your tween is getting ready to begin middle school there are a few things both you and your child should know to make the most of the experience. Middle school is truly a transitional period for a child -- elementary school is behind him but high school is a few years off. Expect change during these middle school years, and a fair share of challenges and opportunities. Below are a few middle school facts you should know and prepare for now.

That will make the transition between elementary school and high school go a little smoother.

Middle School Facts Your Family Should Know About

Popularity Matters to Tweens: Parents hope their children won't place too much importance on popularity, but a middle schooler does care about whether or not he or she is liked and accepted by his or her peers. Your child doesn't have to be the most popular kid at school in order to be happy, but he or she will need a few good friends that your tween can count on through good times and bad. Encourage your tween to develop strong friendships and to learn how to relate to students of all kinds. 

Get Ready for Dating, Dances and More: Some tweens may not be ready for dating or even interacting with members of the opposite sex for a few more years, but they are probably in the minority these days. Tweens are eager (sometimes a little too eager) to begin dating, flirting and sadly, even engage in sexual behavior.

While many tweens are content with finding a date to the homecoming dance, others may put themselves and others in danger by seeking a sexual partner or partners. Now is the time for parents to sit down with their children to discuss behavior expectations and family values. Now is not the time to remain passive.

Tweens need guidance and the best way for them to make good choices is to know how bad choices often come with severe consequences. 

Grades Matter: Your child isn't yet in high school, but grades in middle school do matter to your child and his or her future educational experience. Many tweens are eligible to take high school courses while still in 7th or 8th grades, and those grades will carry forward and count towards your child's high school GPA. But it's not just GPA that's at risk. While grades matter, what's even more important is your child's attitude toward learning and developing a strong study ethic. With your help your tween can develop a study strategy that works with his or her schedule and your family commitments. Also, it's important to point out that learning for learning's sake is just as important as the grade that shows up on your child's report card.

Parents Still Matter - But Not as Much: The good news, parents do matter to their tweens, and they matter a lot. The bad news, your child's friends are more important to your tween than they have ever been before.

This is normal and is a part of your child's developing independence. Allow your tween to turn to his friends for advice and support, but be sure that your tween also knows where you stand on important topics. Also, it's OK to give your child the time and space to work through some challenges on his own. But be sure to jump if your child needs your support or doesn't know how to handle a tricky situation.

Tip: Listen When Your Tween Wants to Talk: If your child is in a talkative mood, be sure to listen. You will learn a lot about your tween's middle school experiences, and about any concerns your tween may have. Take advantage of time in the car or another alone time you may have with your tween. 

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