4 Ways to Set Academic Expectations With Your Middle Schooler

Can you believe you have a middle schooler?! Whether you just said goodbye to elementary school or are looking ahead to high school, you’re realizing that parenting in middle school looks different. It’s a unique season of growth where academics get more challenging and grades start to count more.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about whether or not your child will be able to meet the increasing expectations of middle and high school, don’t fret! You can encourage your child without discouraging their self-confidence and progress thus far.

Here are four ways to help your child navigate increasing academic pressure and find success in middle school.

1. Foster a growth mindset.
Psychologist and author Carol Dweck introduced the importance of having a growth mindset over a fixed mindset — individuals with a growth mindset believe their abilities can be strengthened through challenge, hard work, and constructive feedback while individuals with a fixed mindset believe their abilities are finite, and they either have them or they don’t.

Help your child to see the value in challenging themselves academically by encouraging them to look at obstacles differently. If they’re struggling to understand a concept, try introducing it in a different way. Sometimes it can be helpful to teach them why certain skills and concepts are important. Oftentimes, if they understand the reasoning behind why they’re learning what they’re learning, they’re more likely to persist until they master the material.

2. Praise their effort, not only their excellence.
If your child is trying — really trying — in school, be sure to acknowledge their hard work, even if it isn’t landing them on this year’s honor roll. All children learn differently and process information at different speeds. For some, grasping concepts and comprehending material may take more time and resources than it does for others. Praising your child’s effort will help foster self-confidence, and lets them know you see and value how hard they’re working.

3. Help them understand their mistakes.
When it comes to schoolwork, children can (and should!) learn from their mistakes. Ask your middle schooler to show you their homework, study guides, quizzes, and tests so you can see what they’re getting right and what they’re getting wrong. When you see what they’re getting wrong, sit down with them and review the material, making any necessary corrections. This gives your child the chance to better comprehend the material.

As middle schoolers prepare for high school, it can be very beneficial to do this throughout the school year so that you can be sure they’re ready for cumulative testing, including exams.

4. Set a goal and decide on a reward.
You know what motivates your child best and you know your circumstances. Consider setting a goal with a reward for your child, taking into account their abilities and your budget. It can be something as simple as an ice cream date after acing a test or as extravagant as money to put towards something they really want for straight As. By giving them a short-term goal to work toward, you show the value of making incremental progress towards long-term success.

About Columbia Academy’s Middle School
Columbia Academy is a private school in Columbia, Maryland, serving infants through grade 8, with middle school serving grades 5-8. Columbia Academy middle schoolers enjoy challenging academics, character education, service opportunities, electives and student organizations. If you’re looking for a middle school where your child will be known, valued, and challenged, we encourage you to see what we’re all about by scheduling a campus visit.

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