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9 Tips For Middle School Success

by | Apr 27, 2023 | Parenting, Teens

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Middle school is a time of transition and growing. Your child leaves elementary school, and has three years to be ready for high school! How is this possible? Here are some hard-won lessons learned from getting our kids through these years for middle school success.

Both you and your teen have lots to learn. It is a challenging time, in fact, this might be the most challenging age since they were toddlers! These years can be difficult, but you can help your child start some forward thinking with some of these strategies, and you guys can survive.

Quick update: I was recently back in the middle school classroom for a couple of years. I can tell you that these kids are savvy! They already have ideas about what they want and don’t want. Take advantage of this time! It goes so quickly… 

Middle School Parenting: 9 Tips For Success
9 Tips For Middle School Success 26

**This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see the full disclosure in the foot bar.

Middle School Success: Think about college and career now

Begin talking about things that your child likes to do or that they are interested in or are good at. Do a Google search for schools with different majors that you think of together. Start conversations with your child when you are with other adults and talk with them about their jobs.

Check out my book. Some, if not all, of these conversations really are better if started before high school! But, have them whenever you can if your teen is older.

What types of things do these adults like, and/or dislike, about their jobs. What are the expectations at their workplaces? Do they have really long hours, or maybe just a four day week? How much did they make starting out? How much school was required?

Adults usually love it when a kid is willing to talk and have an actual conversation with them, so encourage them to ask away. Plus, it’s an added bonus to that adult that your child is asking questions and interested in them.

Middle school success is better when you embrace learning.
9 Tips For Middle School Success 27

Middle School Success: Think about future job possibilities

Help your child to start looking around at different jobs that people have wherever you all are. Even when watching a show, try to notice how many jobs there are on that show. Watch the news for different stories about people’s lives and what they do during the day.

These conversations can be very interesting to say the least, it’s amazing what they know and think that they know. Remember, though, that it’s a conversation, not time to lecture!

My video goes into more detail about this here. And be sure to read on below the video for the rest of the story!

Middle School Success: Try new things

Middle school is the perfect time to try some new things.

Try a club if it sounds interesting. Try to stick with it for the year. Sometimes these start out a little boring because no one knows each other yet. Give it a chance. If it is just not a good fit, then try something else.

Run for an office in a club or be in charge of a particular event. This is good practice for more leadership in high school.

Try out for a sport.  This is the time to do some of these things to get a taste to see if it is something that might be a good fit. Most kids at this age make the team. It’s a good time to learn about a sport, especially if your child hasn’t played it before. There are lots of beginners at this age as well as other kids who have played for years. You will see it all in middle school!

Try out an instrument for all of these same reasons.

Again, if your student doesn’t just love something, then they have tried and now they know! The great thing about middle school is that it’s practice for being in high school without the pressure of grades counting and everything being super competitive.

This is also a good time to start keeping track of all activities because as your child moves forward, especially by high school, a good record of all this needs to be kept from the beginning of freshman year.

Thankfully, middle school success doesn't depend on playing in band!
9 Tips For Middle School Success 28

Middle School Success: Take the aptitude tests seriously.

As the future gets closer, tell your student not to just blow these tests off. These tests are really a tool to help decipher personality traits, likes and dislikes, and many other factors which might help steer your child in a direction they have never even considered. Many give really good ideas if honest and thoughtful answers are provided.

We wrote a post about that gives links to some of these tests, and most are free!

Middle school success does not depend on these scores, however the information that can be gained from these results if your teen takes it seriously might be really helpful!

Right now, jobs with good employment rates are engineering, administration, many sciences, and graphic design. Many jobs are not even listed yet–BECAUSE they have not been invented yet! 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 do not even exist today!

Sometimes college is not even needed depending on the career choice!

Middle School Success: Have conversations in middle school.

If I could go back and do one thing differently, it would to be to have more conversations about all of this. We were way more intentional with our youngest son. No decision needs to be made at this point when they are young. But, just having these sort of conversations will really help with everyone’s mindset as high school is looming just ahead.

One big mistake is to wait until junior year to start all these conversations and by then your kids are so super busy and there is a lot going on in general. Give yourselves the gift of time. Here’s the link to a post with 5 tips to improve communication with your teen. *If you have a junior or senior, it’s not too late, just get started because your days are most likely numbered with your teen in the house.

Middle school success takes conversations.
9 Tips For Middle School Success 29

Check out my book. Some, if not all, of these conversations really are better if started before high school! But, have them whenever you can if your teen is older.

Middle School Success: Apply for scholarships

One thing that I wish I had known with our oldest son, is that this whole process could be started in middle school. Many scholarships are available starting for students when they are 13! These are good ones to try for, because who knows this? No one that I have spoken with about this process has known.

As a parent, you need to set up a specific email just for scholarships, and so should your child–even if you are the only one checking them. Sign up for scholarship websites, and fill out the profiles. (These can be edited down the road as your child learns more about themselves and their likes and dislikes.)

These websites will start to send lots of emails about different scholarships that are available. They will be organized in many ways. Stay up with them and create a list of ones to try for. Many can and should be deleted. Don’t go crazy with this. Maybe try for one a month, more during the summer or over holidays.

Two AMAZING resources for scholarships are:

How 2 Win Scholarships
Monica Matthews is a former teacher and a stay-at-home mom of three boys. She’s a mom who worked with her son to earn enough scholarships to attend college for free. Monica has parent, as well as student guides which are extremely useful! I’ve signed up for her newsletters and she’ll let you know when to apply for scholarships. She always has up to date information on her blog. She has a parent guide and student guide as well as a really great online tool for keeping track of scholarship opportunities! I purchased all of her products, and there is a price break if you do so. Her info is spot on!

The Scholarship System– Jocelyn Pearson. She has a free webinar you can register for here. She paid for 100% of her college expenses through scholarships. Jocelyn has definitely done her homework and creates a yearly Scholarship Guide. I liked her webinar. Has a lot of information available. *I will note here that I purchased her system when my middle son was going into high school a few years back. I felt like the information and support we got were worth the price.

The combined information we got from both was priceless since my older 2 sons graduated debt free with a combination of their tips combined with a little money saved. Much of the information they both offer is FREE, so check them both out!

Middle School Success: Practice writing a few essays

Writing essays is so worth it. And, did you know that they can be repurposed? Write a handful and tweak them to fit each application.

Good topics for essays are:  goals and aspirations, how to help the environment, safe driving habits (such as no texting and driving), and where do you see yourself in 20 years. Just having these few essays in their pocket will be super helpful in the whole process because they can be tweaked and used more than once.

There will be more and more writing in high school, so this is good practice. Also, many colleges require an essay on their application, so these could be used again for that.

Middle school success takes work
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Middle School Success: Set up a calendar for college related items

This can be a dedicated calendar for scholarship due dates (pretend that they are actually due earlier than actual date, so they are never late) and also test dates like the ACT and SAT. Eventually, in high school, due dates for applications can also be added. There are many due dates, so a calendar dedicated to just college can be super helpful.

Middle School Success: Talk about finances

Are you wondering what you should be teaching your teen about money? Saving? Investing? This knowledge is so important for our kids as they leave for college and/or beyond. I so wish that I had know all of this when I was their age!

Check out this post for more information to help you out.

Books to read that will help!

Here are some great books to help you through the middle school years!

A few by name are:

Middle School Matters

Middle Schooled

Middle School Makeover

Planet Middle School

College Bound: The Ultimate List of Conversations to Help Your Teen Through High School

This is a lot!!!

Do not try to do this all at once! Middle school lasts three years, so give yourself grace. Try one thing at a time. Get to know your child as they mature and grow into young adults. The main thing is to keep the lines of communication open with your child so that all of this planning and prep work is done together.

It’s almost too much for any one person. Get on the same page as your spouse, significant other, or ex– or as close as possible because it is your kid’s future that is important right now. There will be times that you don’t work on any of this because you are busy and have a life. When you can, take baby steps into this whole process, the chances of middle school success will increase. It is a really exciting and fun time for all!

Related posts for best parenting books for middle schoolers and parenting teens

10 Best Future Career Quizzes for Teens

Why Middle School Is A Great Time To Begin College Prep

8 Best Books for Parenting Teens

Tips for Middle School Parents: 6 Things You Need To Know

Back To School Tips For Middle School and High School

7 Important Opportunity Costs of College

90+ High-Paying Career Alternatives to College

We would love to stay in touch!

Be sure to see all of the Next Phase Parenting Resources on our Resources Page and subscribe to our Next Phase Parenting newsletter below for a weekly dose of love from us about surviving and thriving in your almost or already empty nest. Visit our Facebook page, and follow us on Pinterest and Instagram where we share lots of helpful info for parents with teens, young adults, our aging parents, and other issues that we experience in the sandwich generation ! Thank you so much!❤️

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