This is a list of basic skills students should acquire before moving up to High School. Some are basic and some you might want to consider as new ideas.
Your middle school student must be able to wake themselves up to an alarm clock without a parent’s help.
Once kids are in middle school it is their responsibility, to get themselves up and ready for school without the help of their parent(s). Ready for school consists of: the student packing their lunch the night before (or making sure they have money to purchase lunch as school), book bag loaded and ready to be picked up on the way to the bus stop. If student forgot / left something at home, parents are not to rescue the child.
2. Your middle school student must be able to manage his / her assignments, workload, and deadlines.
This is involves completing daily homework, turning work in on time, studying for tests and planning ahead to meet deadlines. Most schools now have systems where parents can log on and see their child’s grade at any time. All a parent has to do is check grades Friday evening. If the posted grades meet the parents expectations, the student will have weekend privileges. If not, no phone, iPad, computer games etc.
3. Your middle school student must be able to contribute to the running of the household.
You are preparing your child to have a home of their own. That means they dust, vacuum, and organize their personal space. Their personal space includes their bedroom and the bathroom they use. There are no messy disorganized bedrooms or bathrooms rooms. They contribute in meal planning and cooking a meal. By middle school, boys / girls are capable of scrambling an egg, microwaving / baking potatoes, cooking a frozen pizza, preparing a salad etc. If there is a lawn to mow, weeds to pull, bushes, flowers to plant etc. they contribute to the labor. These are valuable skills which build a child’s future integrity.
4. Your middle school student must learn how to cope with each one of their teachers.
Teach your middle school student, “when you complain about your teacher, you have to provide a solution to your problem.” For example: “My teacher doesn’t like me.” What behaviors can you learn so your teacher will not dislike you? Who does your teacher really like? Figure out what makes her / him so likable. All your life you will have to be likable to the people around you. Every person has a different combination of talents. These are called social skills.
5. Your middle / high school student must be able to earn money.
People earn money because they have a skill that someone is willing to exchange for money. For Example: My children had a present wrapping / storage business — people brought them their children’s Christmas / birthday presents to be wrapped and stored. They were hired for parties to cook / serve appetizers and manage the cleaning of dishes / garbage during and after the party. Every summer a neighbor would hire them to help their children go thru their drawers / closets to keep this or get rid of that and organize their room. It was easier on the mother. In high school, they tutored younger students with their math etc. In other words they developed useful skills other than babysitting that neighbors utilized. Adults know sometimes their kids will happily do things with an older teen than with a parent.
6. Your middle school student must be able to negotiate / solve a problem with their teacher without parent interference.
I taught my students that they can ask me to reconsider a decision I made by writing me a letter giving me more information, so I could make a more informed decision for them. A teacher tries to follow the boundaries / parameters they previously stated. Sometimes, that doesn’t apply; you have permission to give me more information and ask for what you need. The letter gave me time to think, as opposed to having a student yell, be discourteous, and interfere with class. The student letters have always been a superior method of solving issues because it required the student to think through the process of what they truly wanted to achieve.
7. Your middle school student must be able to meet, introduce themselves and speak to people they don’t know.
Step 1: Children should practice standing up straight, smiling, with eye contact and greet people their parents introduce them to. This is how they learn to respectfully converse.
Step 2: Once learned they can then transfer this practiced skill with other adults.
8. Your middle school student must be willing to risk failure by trying something new.
Your middle school student must learn how instructive and motivating a failure can be. I use the metaphor of: “You have got to be willing to throw mud on the wall. Some of it will stick, some of it will hit the wall and slide down, and some will hit the wall and fall on the floor. You will learn what works, what almost works and what will never work.” We call this experience. Failures in life should not be an end but an opportunity to begin a new and fresh.
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