Middle School: 9 Tips For Success

Middle School: 9 Tips For Success

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 three 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…  *This post may contain affiliate links.  My full disclosure policy is here.

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Start thinking 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.

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!

Try new things in middle school success.

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.

Thankfully, middle school success doesn't depend on playing in band!

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.

Here is a website that gives great links to some of these tests, and most are free! You can sign up for Loren’s services, but you do not have to!

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!

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!

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 are trying this a lot more with our youngest son. No decision needs to be made at this point. 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.

Middle school success takes conversations.

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.

Check out my parent toolkit for this and other ways to help your teen through these busy years!

Apply for scholarships in middle school.

One thing that I wish I had known with my 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!

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. 

Practice writing a few essays.

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

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.

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.

Talk about finances in middle school.

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!

I have found two great resources. It’s called 5 Things Parents Must Teach Kids About Money. There is also Millionaire by 51.

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:

College Bound: Get Ready for College with Conversations,

Scholarship Tips and Tricks (You CAN Start in Middle School!)

High School Survival Kit For Parents

29 Ways to Prepare for College

Best Year Round Posts for Parenting Teens and Tweens: 50+ Titles

I would love to stay in touch!

Make sure to visit my Facebook page, and follow me on Pinterest and YouTube where I share lots of helpful info for parents of tweens and teens! And, finally, if you feel like this post was helpful, please share it on your favorite social media platform! Thank you so much!❤️

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Toys and Games for Teens with ADHD: 27 Great Finds

Toys and Games for Teens with ADHD: 27 Great Finds

Toys and games for teens with ADHD are a great way to connect with your teen!

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder makes concentrating on a single task difficult. Constant nagging and telling your teen to behave in a certain manner is not helpful for anyone. That’s why it’s important for parents to try something else— such as toys and games for teens with ADHD.  

A teen with ADHD may have difficulties expressing themselves and may not be able to manage their attention levels. With the right games and toys for children, you can help your child overcome these challenges.  *This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is here.

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games for teens with ADHD

The Benefits of Toys and Games for teens with ADHD

Research has shown that when a child is distracted from their task at hand with a toy, they actually focus better. The reason for this is that the brain is a muscle. It becomes stronger with use and it needs to be challenged with new tasks in order to grow.

Giving a young person with ADHD the opportunity to multitask is not only beneficial to them, but is beneficial for the entire classroom or academic environment. Multitasking gives teens the ability to focus on their primary objective while also being able to express their creativity in a way they might not be able to otherwise.

This approach is based on the idea that when a teenager’s brain is using both their hands and their mind to play with a handheld gadget, they can’t zone out. And with all that energy going into moving and playing, it’s easier for them to pay attention in school or when they’re being instructed.

Toys and games for teens with ADHD are designed to help them with their ever-busy minds. They provide challenges, help them with time management, focus, knowledge retention, and self-regulation – all the while supporting their development.

Tabletop Games for ADHD

Sometimes, your child might have trouble paying attention to the task at hand. One way to help them stay focused is by playing tabletop games together. It will give you an opportunity to spend time with them and reinforce good habits! One good idea is to spend some one-on-one time together and work on coloring a picture -there are great adult coloring books these days, jigsaw puzzles, or sketch something from your surroundings together.

Find a way to make the games more interesting for your child by making them competitive. You can race together to see who will put together a puzzle first, or even play a memory game with cards and see who can get the best results within a time-limit.

Sensory Toys

The experts at Play Skills Toys note that when a teen with ADHD feels anxious, they might constantly need to play with their hands and touch things. They can’t focus on anything for long periods of time. To help them manage this, you can provide therapeutic toys that will keep their hands and mind busy.

If your child could benefit from a sensory toy, kinetic sand could be the answer. The sand comes in a wide range of colors and can be molded into any shape your teen wants to create and then packed back into its original container for storage.

Slime comes to mind as well. Even a paperclip with a rubberband will do in a pinch -I had many of my middleschoolers use this to fidget with -amazing how helpful it was to their concentration! Here is an easy recipe for homemade slime with no glue or borax.

Fidget spinners are also great for keeping their hands busy while still building focus. Another thing that my youngest son LOVED were his butterfly knives. He was so good with these -and it really helped with his ADHD. He took many a break from studying, and even during studying to whip these around.

Active Play

If your teenager is hyperactive, try games that involve movement such as Twister, tag, or even an indoor trampoline where they get to bounce. Another great game that my boys all love is is Spikeball. Another great option is gagaball. My middle schoolers played this non-stop before and after school on the old playground, and my boys have loved it at scout camp over the years. Here is the best DIY set of instructions for gagaball that I could find.

Bowling is also a great game because it involves grasping a weighted ball, which many people with attention difficulties find calming and helps them focus.

Problem-solving Games for ADHD

Clue is a board game that engages players in the process of solving a crime. The game forces them to think about what they do and don’t know, which is a real challenge for those with ADHD. Clue is a game that teaches us to use information to solve problems, and gives children the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

Furthermore, these games will teach them to think before they act. If they take time to think about the situation, then they will be able to come to a more reasonable conclusion.

Here are several more top strategy games for teens. These are great because with ADHD, a teen can be hyper-focused on things that they enjoy. 

Chess

Battleship

Risk 

Catan

Stratego

Stone Age

Agricola

Sequence

Ticket to Ride

Video Games for ADHD

Video games are a fantastic way for teens with ADHD to stay engaged in the game without getting bored. They allow them to explore different worlds and missions in their own time, which is perfect for teenagers struggling with inattentiveness.

If your son or daughter is into fantasy games, titles like: Age of Empires, Toy Soldiers, and Lock’s Quest for teens. And, these Skyrim, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, or Fallout 4  for more mature teens all make great choices. These types of video games allow players to explore the world and complete quests at their own pace. These games also offer more than just action; they offer players an escape from reality when they need it most.

It’s always good to have a variety of video games on hand, so check out some other great choices for teens with ADHD too!

Video game time needs to be managed from the beginning if at all possible. If not, please start putting limits on the amount of time. Games are great, but, like all things, there need to be expecatations for the amount of time in addition to studying, family time, and possibly a job as well.

Final thoughts about games for teens with ADHD

A teenager’s brain is a work of art! Especially if they have ADHD, which can make it difficult to focus and stay on track with tasks. That’s why these ADHD toys and games are recommended -to stimulate their brains, but also allow them to slow down and focus more. This way, they can perform better, while also learning something new!

Related posts

10+ Great Games to Play with Your Teens

15+ Best Gift Guides for Teens!

Best Year Round Posts for Parenting Teens and Tweens: 50+ Titles

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3 Ways Teenagers are the Same as Toddlers and Why!

3 Ways Teenagers are the Same as Toddlers and Why!

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Toddlers Vs. Teenagers…Are they so different?

These girls will be teenagers soon!How are teens the same as toddlers? 

I love to read about all kinds of topics including parents in earlier stages of this game called life. I just read a blog post yesterday written by a mama of 2 preschool girls. It got me to thinking about the ways that teenagers are the same as toddlers and how you can adapt your parenting accordingly.

She has a darling family, and she is a great writer by the way, Jordan Hall and her blog is called A Sprinkle of Jo. (update: She no longer has a blog, but I continue to refer to it since this was the idea behind my post.)

Her post was about the annoying habit of toddlers using the word “mom” one million times a day and how it was really getting to her.  It was a great article because it was spot on. I remember those days. Those days when it’s a good thing your kids are cute (at least to you…most of the time…) or you might pitch them out the window! They need you so much and want you even more. 

Those days are gone for us now, sort of.

When I was thinking about writing this post, I started to think how fleeting those toddler days are.

For me, they lasted a little longer. We have 3 boys, but they are spread out age-wise 7 years. So, I was the mother of a toddler/preschooler for nine years if I start counting when my oldest was two until my youngest went to kindergarten. Not so fleeting!

And, to add insult to injury, when my youngest entered kindergarten, my oldest had just turned 13. So, I went from toddlers to teenagers in the space of one summer. I had not realized this, and it explains a lot!

No wonder my husband and I are tired.  We have not caught a break from toddlers or teenagers for 18 years. My oldest just turned 20, one less teenager, but, one week later, my youngest turned 13. This means that we have 7 more years to go with teenagers. I think I want to go back to bed…

Seriously, though, I think that parenting teens is just as exhausting as parenting toddlers, but it’s more of a mental exhaustion, and it lasts so much longer. While the toddler years seem endless, they really only last a couple of years. The teenage years last 7 years, and if you include the tween/preteen years, then even longer!

*This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is here.

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Teenagers are the same as toddlers –Physical Needs

–Toddlers have physical needs to be met.

They are learning to do things for themselves. Feeding them 3 meals a day, getting them to bed on time, and making sure that they stay active are the ways this happens. Obviously, there are more things than this, but those are the basics.

Teenagers are the same as toddlers

–Teenagers also have the same physical needs.

They have hopefully learned how to take care of themselves in general by now. But, they are so busy, you still have to at least provide the food—just wait for those grocery bills!, get them to head in the direction of bed at an appropriate time, and encourage them to be active. Again, this is a list of basics.

Teenagers togetherThe difference is that teenagers know things by now, and are much smarter, which makes the entire process more challenging because they’d like to be the ones in charge of themselves. Toddlers like to be in charge too, but hopefully, with good parenting you have nipped that in the bud, and you might have some fairly peaceful years during elementary school. Teens still need to be told, but this is a process which needs to be carefully navigated.

Make an observation like, “Your morning went really well yesterday. Why do you think that was?” Get your teen to think about things, to realize on their own, what works and what doesn’t work. These “almost adults” will be leaving you soon, like it or not. Telling them to go to bed isn’t helping them to learn anything at all. This is a great way to start conversation with a teenager. They can be a bit touchy, so try different approaches, even with each of your teenagers. What works for one may not work with the next. Keep trying though, that’s the key.

Some of your parenting becomes suggestions and leading questions.

“I’m heading to bed soon, what are you thinking?” This, hopefully, leads to a decent conversation about what their next day holds. This can be tricky, so be careful that it doesn’t turn into an argument.

Tone is everything with a teenager.

 I am really bad about forgetting this. This is a bad mistake. It starts everything off on the wrong foot. Take a deep breath and start again. There are lots of apologies on both sides, but we are learning. I must be a slow learner since I already have a 23 year old, and I’m still saying, “I’m sorry,” a lot.

Teenagers are the same as toddlers –Structure for their lives

–Toddlers need structure in their days.

This helps them to learn and feel safe. A couple of good rules and consistency on your part with a pair of vigilant eyes at all times, and you are good to go.

Teenagers are the same as toddlers

–Teenagers also need structure in their days.

This helps them to learn and feel safe. It just looks a lot different. This is the time of driving, dating, nights out with friends, and all sorts of other adventures. The thing is that they aren’t with us for all of these activities. So, what are the rules? How can you keep them safe? I talk about the book, Teen-Proofing Fostering Responsible Decision Making in Your Teenager by John Rosemond, in another post. He has great ideas for setting up this structure.

Here’s the thing. You have to have rules, and they have to be firm, but flexible.  And, you CANNOT keep them safe. This is the mentally stressful and scary part. We, as parents, know all the things that could happen, but teenagers think that they are invincible, and just don’t think things through. They CANNOT in fact think things through. Brains are not fully developed until mid-20’s, and never is this more evident than when you are in the middle of a discussion with your teenager about why he needs to be home by 11:00 on a Friday night when he is 16.

Teenagers are the same as toddlers –Milestones in their lives.

–Toddlers have some big milestones in their little lives.

Learning to talk and walk, potty training, dressing themselves, feeding themselves, writing their names…These are just a few. This is such a fun era as you watch your kiddos start to develop all of these skills. These things hopefully all happen before kindergarten. One note here! Please read and read and read to your toddler! It makes so much difference later!

–Teenagers also have some major milestones happening in their lives.

Going through puberty alone is a huge event. So, keep the lines of communication open while this is happening because this is a very confusing and overwhelming time in life! You know the other big events: getting a driver’s permit, getting the actual license, heading from middle school to high school and then to college or perhaps right into the working world.

All of this happens over a longer period of time than toddlerhood, but there is so much to figure out as they move through all of these events they need more time! Note: keep reading to your teen even after they say that they are too old for it!

Teenagers are the same as toddlers

I guess my major thought on all of this, now that I have written this post, is that raising kids, to quote a cliché, “is quite a journey.”  I cannot tell you what your rules should be for your family. Have you read my book? Here is the blog post that accompanies the book with some free printouts! 

I will say that our rules evolved over time with our boys.  The main thing is trust.  We set rules and expect them to be obeyed. Once they proved to us that they could be trusted, then we were open for discussion.

We always told them to be aware that no matter where they were or what they were doing that they would be caught. Maybe not at the time, but we would find out from someone. This has been the case every time one of them would try to get away with something.

The beginning of raising a child is busy and exciting and exhausting. Rest while they are in elementary school, because the teen years are just as busy and exciting and exhausting but, in a totally different, but equal way.

Support your fellow parents!

 No matter where they are in this journey. We all need help and understanding all the time!

Do you see any similarities in these two age groups? Have any stories to share? I’d love to hear them:)

Related posts:

7 Things to Know if You Love a Teenager

Simple Steps To Teen Discipline

7 Best Books for Parenting Teens

How To Say No To Your Teenager, You Can Do It!

Best Year Round Posts for Parenting Teens and Tweens: 50+ Titles

I would love to stay in touch!

Visit my Facebook page, and follow me on Pinterest and YouTube! I look forward to seeing you again!

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