Middle schoolers are a hard bunch to keep up with. They are always changing and you never know what they are going to be like. However, there are some ways you can connect with them and keep the communication open, without going insane.
How to Connect With Your Middle Schooler: Tips for Parents
Take a genuine interest in what your middle schooler child is interested in.
It’s important that you seem authentic when you’re talking to teens—they’ll be able to tell if you’re being fake. Find out what kind of music they like and ask them about their favorite artists.You could ask your child what their favorite movie is and then plan a movie night where you make popcorn. It’s important to put your phone away and actually watch the movie so your child knows you’re paying attention.Your kids will learn your values by talking with you. If you’re not involved in your child’s activities, ask if they would like you to join.
Keep up with the latest teens pop culture or social media trends
Not all parents realize the importance of monitoring their child’s internet usage. Let’s face it, the seventh grade trends are not that interesting to us and we have far better things to do in our busy lives until a parent witnesses their child viewing something inappropriate or searching up something they learned about or overheard from school or other students.If we stay informed, we can ask questions to show our kids we understand what’s going on and talk to them when they have tough questions.I was surprised that even though they had not seen it, the talk of it was out there. It’s even referenced now in online “kid-appropriate” games.The point is that if you keep your ears open and ask your kids questions (remembering to make eye contact), it often leads to a healthy and necessary conversation.
Teach and do things together.
It can be beneficial to find something that you and your child are both passionate about and share it together. Another option is to ask your child to teach you how to do something they love. This can help improve your relationship while also giving your child the opportunity to strengthen their ability in that skill. Remember to reciprocate by teaching them something as well. Teaching your tween or teen how to be self-sufficient can build their confidence, mutual respect, and support learning how to take care of themselves. Many parents do this more with their second or third child but it’s still important for first-born children to learn these things.
Let your middle schooler take charge of planning a vacation or staycation that would be fun for the whole family. It can be interesting to see what they come up with. To make it more challenging, give your children a budget to work with or say it can’t cost anything. Have them do research and present their findings and ideas in a brochure or presentation for the family.
Take advantage of opportunities to connect when they come up (ask about their day, offer advice, give genuine compliments).
If you want your kids to open up to you, don’t just walk into their room unannounced and start shuffling through the TV, video games, or laptop. Kids are more likely to open up when they feel comfortable with you, so create opportunities for them to do so at times when they feel that way.Middle schoolers can be tight-lipped, so asking questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no won’t get you very far. Try asking your kid questions like, “What classes do you like/dislike this school year, any teachers who are hard to work with, what did you think of your English class?” or “Who did you sit with at lunch today?” This will give them a chance to share what’s going on in their social circle or school without feeling like they’re being interrogated.By asking if your child needs help or if they want to talk, you are showing that you are supportive and available to listen.
It’s important to give your tween or teen genuine compliments even though it may seem like they don’t want one from you. Find something you like about their outfit, the new band they listen to, or how much time and effort they put into a homework assignment and tell them why it means so much to you that they are doing well in school.
How you get to know your students depends on how they learn, what concepts they pick up quickly, and also how much they open up to you. You may have some students who seem to open up to you more readily, while others may seem to keep up a wall. So how can you break down those walls (or at least soften the cement a bit)? Take a look:
1. Write a letter to your incoming students (and ask for a letter in return).
I write a letter to my new students every year, telling them a little about myself so they feel more comfortable in class. In return, I ask them to write me a letter. It’s amazing how much they’re willing to share. I also try to be open with them and laugh at myself a little to maintain my authority. I admit when things are hard for me, I admit when I’m trying something new with them, and I admit when I could have done a better job teaching a particular lesson. Fifteen years of teaching has taught me that students are more willing to engage and take risks if they know that I’m not afraid to take risks, laugh at myself, and try something new.
2. Learn their names.
It’s important to learn your students’ names as soon as possible, preferably before the first day of school. This shows them that you care about them and that you’re interested in getting to know them. It also sets the tone for a good relationship for the rest of the year.
3. Ease into activities that encourage sharing out.
” I start every year by telling my students a little about myself and showing them some pictures of my family. Then, I let them share whatever they want to about their weekends. We do this every Monday throughout the year. Sometimes they just share verbally, but other times I have them journal their weekend and share it out loud, or I’ll ask them to share in a way that review a certain skill we’re working on (like summarizing).
I don’t make my students share at the beginning of the year, I let the outgoing students share and the more introverted students listen. I usually follow up with the students who didn’t share later. I teach smaller classes so it’s not as big of a time commitment, but I have a colleague who does it with her full class every Monday and the kids love it.
About a month into the school year, I have a meeting with each student to see how they’re doing and what I can help them with. By that time, most middle schoolers are more willing to talk to me. And I know them and their learning strengths and needs well enough to help them do more than just shrug their shoulders.
4. Attend an outside event of each of your students.
The best way I got to know my students and what allowed those walls to come down was making it a point to attend an outside event for each of them. Whether it was a school basketball game, a play, or a ballet recital, I wanted my students to know that I saw them as a whole person and not just another kid in my classroom. It worked wonders for me and allowed me to build great trust relationships with all of my students.
5. Shake their hands every day when they walk in the room.
Teaching The students who attend the school I work at come from difficult backgrounds and neighborhoods. School is their safe place. To try and build a better rapport with them, I greet them with a handshake each morning when they enter my classroom. It’s a way to ask them how they’re doing and to let them know that I am here for them. If I see something is wrong, I can give them personal praise and support. The teachers at my school do a great job of being there for each other and keeping each other updated on what’s going on with the students. We’re like a family.
6. Encourage them, be observant, and ask lots of questions.
Teacher I like to start by encouraging my students. Some of them lack the confidence needed to open up, so a quick note of praise or a pat on the back can mean a lot. I also ask a lot of questions. I’m very observant of what my students are listening to, what band name they have scribbled on their notebook, and what they’re googling when they’re finished taking tests. This gives me a way to connect with them. When I see them in the hallway, I can use my observations to spark discussions. I never give up on any of my students, even the introverted ones. It’s more important to me that they know I care than them talking to me.
7. Let them open up through writing, journaling, and monitored online chats.
Some students are very easy to get to know right away because they are vocal. Others are not going to share orally no matter how much you try. They are shy, even when it’s a one-on-one meeting, so the author doesn’t force it. However, these students are often the very opposite online and/or in writing. So the author has all of their students write blogs, participate in online chats (that the author monitors), and write in their personal journals through our grading software so only the author can see their entries. The author writes back to them in the same way they communicate to the author and their classmates: through the comments on the blogs, in the chat, and by responding to their journal entries. It’s amazing what they share with the author and how much the author actually learns about them through written communication. It is, by far, the most effective way the author has found to get to know them.
8. Head up a school club or sports team.
I got to know my students better when I helped to start the first robotics club at the school where I taught. I also met other students who I didn’t teach (who are often friends with students in my classes). I ran an after-school science research program where I met with many students one-on-one. This allowed me to get to know them better. The more moments you share that aren’t behind desks, the better.
9. Make it known you’ll give them another chance.
, High School Detention Supervisor I’ve been working as the detention supervisor at my school for the past eight years and I absolutely love it. A lot of teachers think it would be a terrible job, but I really enjoy it. The kids that come into detention are often squirmy freshmen who can’t sit still or seniors who feel too cool for school. But no matter what brought a kid into detention, there’s always an opportunity to get to know them (and help them out). I’m strict in the detention room, but friendly and supportive in the hallways. I think it’s really important for students to know that even though they made a mistake, their lives aren’t ruined forever if they’re willing to try to turn things around. Being detention supervisor is one of the best parts of my job.
10. Help students see things from their parents’ perspective.
I chief ELA, and one penmanship employment I frenzy to do is write a opposition of diary incorporation from the perspective of one of their findings, writing about their progeny (my student). It’s extraordinary to get them to measure superficial of themselves (specially as young adults regard to be a scrap too consent-absorbed from case to term!) and to envisage material from their parent’s perspective. It moreover shows me a lot about how they envision themselves, a scrap more about their compatibility with their heads, and how conducive they are.