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Advice for Middle School

One of the 4th grade teachers in Hartland asked me to join her class on one of their last Zoom sessions of the school year.  I had been working all year long with all the students, BK-5th grade, with Hartland’s “Eagles Take Flight SEL+ Program” before it was interrupted by COVID-19.

Since I had also been working with the students and staff at the middle school, she asked me if I could share some advice with her students who were soon to head off to that middle school in the fall.  I wanted to share the advice and video of my talk with you.

You may be thinking, I just have a kindergartener.  Or, I already have one in high school.  But before you do, I think you will be surprised to learn how much this applies to every parent raising a child or teen.

Here is the advice a gave these 4th graders:

I started by congratulating them on getting through elementary school and the COVID-19 Crisis.  I asked who was excited to move on to middle school.  I also asked who was a little nervous about the move up and the coming change.  Having worked closely and understanding the environment and culture of the middle school and 11-13 year olds, I gave them two pieces of advice and a bonus tip.

(*First, I asked them who had a pencil and a piece of paper!  This is the first step to show you are serious.  Writing down advice is the most powerful first step you can take!)

  1. “I am in practice for High School!”  High school may seem like a long time off.  Four years?  But it is not, particularly from the standpoint of HABITS.  I said, middle school will be much more like high school.   You will have different teachers in different classrooms.  I shared the story of how so many people say “Oh, it will be different when I get to high school.  (Or, when I get into the working world.)  I will work harder then.”  Well it never happens that way.  Why?  Because of habits.  Once you set habits in place it is so hard to break or change them.  If you do “good enough” or worse now, you will do it for the rest of your life.  If you thrive to do your best now, you will do it for the rest of your life.  So, I said, the second you land foot at Farms Intermediate School develop the habit of working hard and always striving for A’s in every class.  Do the same in all your sports and activities.  Do not just make the team or settle for being good.  Be the very best.  This powerful habit will follow you not only through high school but for the rest of your life.  If you really are serious you will start this habit and mindset over the summer!

  2. “Take care of each other.”  I shared with them the unique emotional and social shifts that occur around 6th grade.  But I also shared the good news - there is light at the end of the tunnel.  At around 10th grade your classmates will shift back to being more caring and non-judgmental.  I laughed and said, all you have to do is get through 5th-9th in good shape emotionally!  Parents, I will tease you by making you watch the video for the advice I shared with them!

  3. Bonus – Developing Self-Discipline.  I will keep this simple and short because you can watch the video for the details:  Students, start this summer developing your own self-discipline by doing one thing – Find the thing you hate doing the most . . . then do it every day.

Parents, yes this is a stressful time for children.  They need downtime and fun.  But, for a parent raising a child it is a fine balance between fun and hard work.  You need the right amount of each.  This is not easy.  You want your child to live a good life, not an easy life.  Let them have fun and a break over the summer.  They deserve it.  But remember to balance it out with good, healthy doses of plan old good HARD WORK!

Enjoy the video and get your child ready for middle school and beyond!

Yours for strong kids,


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