Sunday, October 18, 2015

Getting Ready for Middle School

Most kids don't want to begin thinking about school starting until, well, maybe the second or third day of school!

(On the other hand, we've been barraged by "back-to-school" ads since just after Fourth of July!) At some point, BEFORE the first day of school, students ought to start getting in the frame of mind to begin a new school year.

For some students, the beginning of the school year is teachers, new friends, new activities.
For many others, it's just a new chance to fail...again.
This week's learning tip is all about finding a way to get through the first few days without making an embarrassing blunder that can easily be avoided. Hope these tips from Stowell Learning Center help you.

Don't Get Lost

"I'm in the land of giants. How do I get out of here?" seven-year-old David thought to himself.

After finishing lunch, he and his two friends had taken a wrong turn out of the cafeteria. Instead of finding themselves headed back to their second grade classroom, they had mistakenly entered...The Junior High part of the building.
Those sixth-seventh-eighth graders were HUGE! And they ALL seemed to know exactly where they were and where they were going. It was really scary.

All of this anxiety could have been avoided if he had just been given a tour of the school before the first day. It's such a simple thing.
Before the first day of school, go to the building. Take a look at it. Where are the entrances? Where is the playground? What can you figure out just by looking at the outside?
Is there a map you can download or get from the school?

If you can get inside, do some exploring:
  • Where is the lunchroom?
  • Where is the PE area?
  • Where is my classroom?
  • Will I have to change classes? If so, where are the other rooms?
  • Where is the office? (Hint...It's almost always near the flagpole).
  • Where are the bathrooms?
  • Where is the library?
  • Are there multiple ways to get to all of these rooms?
  • In what order might I need to go from room to room?
  • Take a few pictures so you can remember what it looks like
Getting lost can happen to anyone, but it is more apt to happen to students who struggle. Start the year by removing this anxiety. It's such a simple thing thing to fix beforehand, but getting lost during school can ruin a whole day.

Make sure the first few days are fun and not an exercise in frustration.
What Could Possibly Happen? Let's Make a Plan!

is a list of typical concerns of students. Very few of these things seem really important to the operation of the "cosmos," but they can be very real to students.

WARNING - You need to be VERY careful! You don't want to create anxiety where there isn't any. DON'T DON'T DON'T show this list to your student! This list is for your reference.

Step 1 - At an appropriate time (when your child is in the mood) sit down together and just ask what they're feeling about the new school year. What are they excited about? Do they have any concerns? What are they hoping for? They may not be thinking about it at all. They may be thinking about things none of us have considered.

Just remember, no matter how trivial it might sound to you, it is REAL to them!

Step 2 - Make a list of the BEST things that could happen in the upcoming year. What would the "best year ever" look and feel like?

Step 3 - Now, make a plan just in case everything doesn't work out exactly as we all hope. If any of the concerns actually occurs, what will you do? How will you handle it? What would it feel like? How can it be made OK?

Essential - Find out what your child has been thinking about as the first day of school gets closer. Make a plan. And DON'T create worries if they aren't there already.

Here's a list of concerns students sometimes have about the new school year. What if:
  • You get the "bad" or "mean" teacher?
  • You're in a different room than your best friends?
  • You're in a room with people you really don't like?
  • You get the "hard" teacher?
  • You get the "easy" teacher??
  • You have to sit in the front?
  • You have to sit in the back?
  • Lunch is early?
  • Lunch is late?
  • There is a smell in the room you don't like?
  • You can't understand the teacher? (accent, mumbles, talks softly)
  • The teachers talks too loudly or harshly?
  • There is waayyyy too much homework?
  • There isn't any homework?
  • The teacher just doesn't seem to like you or notice you?
  • You're the teacher's "pet?"
  • Your new backpack, notebook, etc, is too big / too small?
  • What if other kids make fun of your clothes / backpack / shoes / pencil / lunch?
  • What if you get yelled at the very first day?
  • What if you feel "lost" on your very first assignment?
  • What if you can't find your way around the building?
Create a Routine From The Start
Humans are creatures of habit.  If we create good habits and routines around homework, there will be much less argument and negotiation. 

Designate a set time when
homework will be done

This will solve a multitude of problems. If your child knows that every day from 3:45 - 4:45 is homework time, it will become an everyday routine. If it's "what we always do," pretty soon, no one expects anything different.

Ideally, you want to have homework time to be the same time every day. Determine the time with your student. Does she need a snack or a little down time before she starts? How much time will that take?

Look at your student's needs, the typical amount of time homework takes, and your family activities. Then if at all possible, designate the same time everyday for homework.

If this is not possible due to parents' work schedules, or other activities, create a weekly schedule where the homework time may vary from day-to-day, but there is a designated time each day of the week.
Stick to your designated
homework schedule.
Don't let anything else take priority.

Do not schedule appointments or take
phone calls during this time.

Nothing gets priority
over homework during
the set homework time!
Children are often guilty of saying, "I don't have any homework today." (This may or may not be true!) Sometimes, students forget their materials, forget to write down their assignments, "conveniently" forget details, or just find it easier to say they don't have  homework.
Whether your son or daughter has
homework or not,
the designated homework
time is for homework.
If she actually has no homework from school, homework time should be spent studying for spelling tests or other upcoming tests, working on long-term assignments and book reports, doing free-reading, or writing in a journal. This preserves the homework time routine and helps remove the temptation of saying there's no homework when in fact there is.

You'll find that the routine of a schedule really creates much more order and calmness when it's time to do homework.

BUT, the time to set all of this up is right now, BEFORE you get too far into the school year. 

Set the Stage for Success
WHERE will your student do his homework?

There can be many places in the house that work for doing homework.  Making the decision NOW as to where the homework place is will help when school starts.  Take some time to evaluate different locations in your home.

Specifically, you are looking for a place that is:
  • Comfortable for reading and writing
  • Well-lit
  • Quiet
  • Free from distractions
  • Clear of clutter
  • Stocked with all of the materials needed
Having a clear work space with all necessary materials at hand, such as pencils, ruler, and lined paper reduces the need to get up and waste time or get distracted looking for materials.

Work together with your child.  The more your child is involved in the process, the more he "owns" it.  Stocking his own desk with his homework materials can be fun and motivating.

1 comment:

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