The middle school years are tough. After all, pre-adolescents face mental, emotional, physical and social changes during this time — and the adjustments aren’t always easy to navigate. And, after an unprecedented end to the school year, middle schoolers could be struggling even more because they missed out on different social and emotional development opportunities.
That’s why they need social and emotional support, says Kelly McDevitt, a seventh grade math teacher at Middle School East, which is part of L’Anse Creuse Public Schools. “That has been something that they are missing the most,” McDevitt says.
Middle schoolers weren’t able to interact with their peers in the same way they normally would when in-person learning was in session. Those interactions are key to their overall development, so what can parents do to help? Read on for some advice.
Being self-aware, socially aware and learning how to manage behaviors — these are all skills middle schoolers need to cultivate, and there are ways parents can help them at home, according to ParentToolKit.com. These skills actually have an impact on a child’s educational achievements, as well, the website notes.
“Research shows that those with higher social-emotional skills have better attention skills and fewer learning problems, and are generally more successful in academic and workplace settings. Like any Math or English skills, these skills can be taught and grow over time,” the website notes.
To get your child more in touch with their own feelings, spend the summer talking. Ask about his or her feelings regularly, but avoid telling your child how to feel. Be sure to let your child know you’re always here for them to talk to.
While social-emotional development should be top of mind, for parents who also want to brush up on some Math skills, McDevitt says, “my suggestion in my content area is for parents to do activities with their children that involve math but are fun,” she says.
Use pizza dinner as a time to talk about fractions, or next time you’re ordering a carryout, have your child calculate the tip.
Try a game of math bingo or try a new recipe — you can even make some adjustments to the number of people a recipe serves to help your child exercise those math muscles, according to WeAreTeachers.com.
McDevitt suggests consulting the Michigan Department of Education for a number of resources and websites to reference during the summer.
“Another thing that could be a focus is shifting students to a growth mindset and I know that that is a focus in our classroom as far as understanding that your brain is like a muscle,” she notes.
To do so, check out YouCubed, which features free online math courses for students.
“You’re going to have a slide under normal circumstances, let alone we’re looking at 6 months outside of the classroom,” she says, so think about how your child likes to learn. Perhaps he or she enjoys games on the iPad. While you might not want to increase screen time, letting your child play an educational game is a great way to help with academic skills.
Content brought to you by the Macomb Intermediate School District. For more information, visit misd.net.