Middle school changes, anyone

So I’m no longer living at my ex-husband’s, but I am at his house three days a week so he can do cardiac therapy. Slowly digging out.

In the meantime, our older son is in 6th grade this year and I’m noticing some adjustment issues, and I thought some of you might be in the same boat.

The things I’m noticing most are: 

* issues with keeping track of things now that he has multiple teachers

* hormones  

* getting grades (instead of “Proficient,” “Satisfactory,” “Unsatisfactory”) 

* getting grades based on actual work instead of on perceived soft skills from the teacher

Anyone else with middle school stuff? 

0 thoughts on “Middle school changes, anyone”

  1. Oh, yes. Just this morning my 11-year old daughter asked, "when am I going to get my period?" (it’s really a daily question at this point), and "is it fun to get your period?" After 35 years I can safely say the thrill is gone. Lots of hormones, lots of talking about the dynamics between sexes at school. Everything seems to be up in the air for a massive re-shuffle – food, sleep, grooming, personality, etc are shifting.

  2. Things I’ve noticed in my nephew – he is still in the "bugs and snakes are cool" phase, but many of his male classmates are moving on to hip-hop music, music videos, expensive equipment and "cool" clothes. It seems like it’s such a transitional state for boys and they will wobble back & forth between the boy’s world and the teenager world. We’ve also noticed more behavior of classmates ganging up on each other, the start of what I would consider "organized bullying".
    It is a lot more work for him to track varying assignments, especially because they are starting to spread out due dates (fewer worksheets due the next day, more things like papers due in a week, project due in a month, etc). On the other hand, he is enjoying some things more because the reading is more detailed and complex than a lot of the elementary work.

  3. I don’t have middle school children of my own, but I’ve been teaching middle school for a long time. Sixth graders are all over the place and need lots of support. Ways that they were independent in the spring of 5th grade will have fallen away. The interests are considerably varied, too. I always encouraged parents to get more involved for the first couple of quarters until the transition is well under way. They need lots of encouragement and support with the life/school skills that sixth graders need. Kids definitely need some sort of electronic / paper planner to manage everything. Good luck! They’ll be in better shape by January.

  4. Oh man. Sixth grade was really hard for me. I think it’s just a crazy year for kids – so much transition. It’s like straddling the gap between childhood and teenage-hood, and the gap gets wider and wider, and you panic because you’re going to fall if you don’t jump forward, but it is really scary to leap into the unknown!

    Lots of love and support.

  5. Oh, sure, I complain last night that comments don;’t load and here I am commenting (from a computer where comments wouldn’t load but my persistence pays off).

    I was surprised to see you write that just now in Middle School the kids get real grades and are switching classes. My son started switching in 3rd grade (this year). Real grades started in 2nd grade with percentages and letters. That was also the first year of standardized tests with percentile rankings.

    When I was in school back in the dark ages, letter grades started in kindergarten. I still have that report card. There were things like cutting, hopping on one foot, book handling skills, counting, recognizing own name.
    Nowadays, the report cards are in the online grade book so there is no card. Nothing to paste into the scrap book and it is missing my favorite part: the teacher comments. I enjoy reqading the comments on my grade school cards: Carrie is an asset to the class and once she learns to channel her energy …blah blah blah. Carrie is a joy to have in class but could stand to blah blah blah. It’s classic use of the compliment/criticism/compliment sandwich. A very effective communication tool for teachers.

    With multiple teachers this year (who do not communicate with one another over how much homework they are assigning each night), it could be worse. It’s actually fine. In fact, of all the grades so far, with the exception of kindergarten, third grade is my favorite as a parent.

    I am not noticing any hormones in my son but I am noticing changes in other kids (mostly girls). They want to be on facebook and instagram and they want a boyfriend and a cell phone. The girls want trendy clothes from Justice. The boys seem fairly oblivious to this stuff so far and are mostly just ignoring those parts of teh girls. My son is on the young side for his grade (he is not quite 8.5 yet and many of the kids are already 9).

  6. Until yesterday, I would have said that this transition was going smoothly for R: while he’s getting up earlier and coming home by himself, it seems to be working, with minor organizational issues. Then, last night at a music lesson, R was atypically grumpy; once we got in the car, it was clear that he was exhausted and overwhelmed. It hasn’t helped that we’ve also had 4 religious holidays, 3 sets of company, and 2 major music competitions overlapping with the first month of school. I reminded him that, we agreed that going to bed 1/2 hour earlier might make him feel less worn out, and my husband and I agreed to make an effort to keep things quiet for the next couple of weeks.

    One issue R raised last night that surprised me is that the health teacher said that now that the kids are starting to hit puberty, they will be moodier. R seemed to be troubled by that idea; I don’t think he’s actually there yet hormonally, but he still seemed traumatized! It felt like hearing this information either gave him permission to be grumpy, or that he was grumpy in anticipated fear of feeling strange.

    And yeah, the organizational stuff is always a challenge. We got a lot of online information from our school, which helps keep the parents calm, but we are trying to encourage R to take more responsibility for his own work, planning his time, etc. It helps that so far homework has seemed trivial and not very time-consuming. The kids are being encouraged to "study daily," but R is finding the tests quite easy… which makes it challenging as a parent to try to enforce really good study habits where he really understands all the material fully.

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