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Middle Years

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Dealing with Concerns

Nothing causes a bigger knot in a parent’s stomach than the realization that something is hurting their child. It can be a math program that isn’t working for a student, or withdrawal from peers because of playground altercations. It’s important that you share your concern if your student seems to be struggling or is having difficulties in school. The teacher may not even be aware of the problem– often the most painful situations involve conflicts with peers, and children are sometimes hesitant to share those problems with a teacher. And if the problem involves the curriculum, it can often be a case of misunderstanding as the curriculum goals are translated by the student to a parent.

Here are some steps you can take to make sure concerns are resolved quickly:

Write down your concerns first. This isn’t writing that you necessarily will want to show a teacher or an administrator, but it will help you focus your concerns. It might also help you diffuse some strong emotions you might be feeling.

Be direct. You may call the teacher directly, or call the main office and leave a message. As teachers may not have the opportunity to return your call immediately, leave a time it would be best to return the call. You are also welcome to email the teacher directly.

Make an appointment if needed. Be sure to let the teacher know why you are asking for the appointment.

Keep a positive frame of mind, especially with your child. Remember that you, the teacher, and the student are the partners in your student’s education. Often a concern about school is upsetting to both you and your student. Your student’s attitude about school is tempered by your feelings and you want your child to have a positive outlook.

Be clear about your concerns. An honest approach works best. Let the teacher know your concerns and how they came to be. Though criticism can be painful, teachers much prefer to hear concerns directly than through gossip or another individual. The teacher can offer more information or an explanation that will help the two of you plan a course of action.

Middletown Steps Up to Stop Bullying

Did you know that October was National Bullying Prevention Month? We take bullying very seriously here at Middletown Middle School. We work with students in many ways to help teach them how to prevent being a victim of bullying, what to do if they are bullied, why it is important to NOT be a bystander and how to treat others with respect. We are also very concerned with the increase in cyber bullying. We want to encourage all of our families to check in with your children frequently about their online technology use. Our middle school students are looking for ways to have their own lives, privacy and a feeling of independence. However, unrestricted and unmonitored use of technology is an invitation to cyber bullying. Please be aware of the social media that your students are accessing, whether it is on their phones or personal computers.

Bullying Prevention and Awareness Facts

•More than 160,000 U.S. students stay home from school each day from fear of being bullied.

•Bullying directly affects a student’s ability to learn. Students who are bullied find it difficult to concentrate, show a decline in grades, and lose self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth.

•Students who are bullied report more physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, than other students.

•In some cases, bullying has led to devastating consequences, such as school shootings and suicide.

•Bullying affects witnesses as well as targets. Witnesses often report feeling unsafe, helpless, and afraid that they will be the next target.

•Bullying is a community wide issue that must no longer be ignored or thought of as a rite of passage. Students, parents, and educators all have a role in addressing bullying situations and changing school culture.

•The two keys to creating change are: increasing awareness that bullying has a lifelong impact, and giving people the tools they need to respond effectively.

•Students can be especially effective in bullying intervention. More than 55 percent of bullying situations will stop when a peer intervenes. Student education of how to address bullying for peers is critical, as is the support of adults.

Adjusting to Middle School Life

You may notice that the house is a little quiet the first few weeks of school! This is only natural as everyone adjusts to the new routines of schools. Don’t expect most students to be very chatty—it’s exhausting for anyone to juggle new classrooms, friends, early bedtimes, and new responsibilities can overwhelm even the most confident student. There are small things you can do that your student will appreciate to help them adjust to the new school year:

  • Make sure home routines are very regular!

This provides students with a sense of security as they adjust to the new demands of school. Firm bedtimes and consistent routines such as reading together just before lights out will help your student master the new routines away from home much more quickly.

  • Organize that book bag!

Now is the time for you to set up a quiet area, time, and ground rules for help with school projects or homework. Read any materials sent home about the school rules and routines carefully, so you can help your student with new responsibilities and rules.

  • Hide a note or two!

Write a short note to your student reminding them that you’re thinking of them all day long, and then hide it in their lunch or backpack. Your student will love coming across a happy note from home as they are in the midst of adjusting to a new environment.

  • Plan a special event for the weekend!

It might include preparing your student’s favorite meal, or a last trip to the beach or favorite playground. Celebrate the hard work your student (and you) have done all week adjusting to school by treating yourselves to time together you can both enjoy.

Helping Your Child Enter a New School

For a child, enrolling in a new school is exciting, anxiety inducing, provoking. There are several things you can do to make the change in schools a little easier.

☺ Visit the school with your student!

Before your student enters the new school, make an appointment to visit the office and campus. Schedule a time when you can introduce your student and yourself to the school staff as well as explore the campus.

☺ Find out about the daily routines!

Where do the students line up for PE? How is lunch money collected? What is the schedule for gym and band? Is there a dress code? Ask for a student or parent handbook, if there is one available.

☺ Request a tour of the building!

Students new to a school are often reluctant to ask about the lost and found box or the nurse’s office. Tour the school with your child to discover all the important areas, including the main office, bathrooms, library, and gym.

☺ Check on school policies!

All schools have written policies that guide their procedures. If there isn’t a school/parent handbook, ask about dropping off and picking up students, administering medication, early dismissal, discipline, and procedures.

☺ Fill out any paperwork you can before that first day!

Any paperwork, such as emergency forms or permission slips, that you can fill out beforehand is less for your student to carry back and forth that first day.

☺ Find out about supplies!

Check to see what supplies your student may need to bring along each day. Be prepared to supply pencils, pens, and paper for your student. Being prepared for that first day helps your child feel secure.

☺ Follow the transportation route your child will use to get to school!

If your student will travel by bus, check with the school or the Transportation Department about the schedule and pick-up and drop-off points. If your child is a walker, walk the route together and talk about safely walking to school. Point out landmarks that may be helpful in finding the way. If your student is being picked up, discuss pick-up and drop-off spots so they know exactly where to meet you.