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Making up work
When your child returns to school after being absent, remind her to ask her teachers about make up work. She’ll avoid missing out on learning, and she’ll make sure she has material that may appear on a quiz or test. At home, have her set aside time to complete the assignments.
Find the similarity
Play this game to stretch your young-ster’s thinking. Take turns naming two unrelated objects (flower, skyscraper). Encourage him to think about each object’s attributes and come up with creative ways that they’re alike (both stand up tall).
Follow through
An apology means more if your tween follows up on it. When she makes a mistake, ask how she plans to avoid a repeat. For example, say your trash can overflows because she forgot to put it out on pickup day. After she says, “I’m sorry,” she might tape a reminder on the fridge (“Trash: Tues-day and Friday”).
Worth quoting


“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” Victor Hugo
Just for fun
Q: When you look at me I look at you.  When you raise your left arm, I raise the right.  What am I?
A: A mirror


Solid Research Skills

With so much informa-tion available, there’s plenty for your tween to draw on when he does research for reports, essays, or presenta-tions. The key is knowing how to dig through the material and determine what he needs. Share these tips. 

Stay on topic
Encourage your child to use specific search terms online so that what turns up will be closer to what he’s looking for. Say he’s writing a science paper on earthquakes. Simply typing “earthquakes” into a search engine may bring up news on recent quakes. He’ll get better results if he instead tries “earthquake science” or “What is an earthquake?”
Get organized
Suggest that your middle grader develop a note-taking system that works well for him. For instance, he might write each fact and its source on a separate index card. When he’s finished, he could sort the cards into categories. He’ll be able to see holes in his research, such as main ideas that need more supporting evidence.
Consider the source
Your tween should choose sites that are up to date, in-depth, and credible. Sites published by schools or universities (ending in .edu), government agencies (.gov), and nonprofit organizations (.org), tend to be more trustworthy. Also, it’s important to verify facts by finding them in at least three places.
student doing research

Mindfulness for Middle Graders

Tweens face stress from daily activities like han-dling homework and navigating friendships. Being mindful, or present in the moment, may ease the pressure. Help your child practice with these ideas.

  • Create a “calming jar.” Let your tween fill a clear jar with water and sprinkle in glitter. Have her screw on the lid and shake the jar, focusing on her feelings as she watches the glitter settle. Point out that when the glitter is still, it’s easier to see through the jar—much like being calm helps her see a situation more clearly.
  • Take a walk. Pay attention to what you and your middle grader feel, hear, see, and smell as you walk together. What sound do your feet make when they hit the ground? What does the breeze feel like on your face? What scents come from the homes you pass?

Is It Bullying?

What does bullying look like, and what can you and your middle schooler do about it? Consider this advice to help her recognize and respond to bullying.

Be aware of “silent bullying.” Some bullying is easy to spot, such as one student deliberately tripping another. But it can also be less obvious. A child might take another stu-dent’s belongings or threaten a classmate when no one else is around. Encourage your middle grader to reach out to a classmate who seems fearful or withdrawn. A simple “Hey, is everything okay?” could give a person who is being bullied the courage to confide in her.

Know when behavior crosses the line. Your tween may not realize that she is being bullied. Say a classmate repeatedly makes unwanted comments about her appearance—that’s a form of bullying. Let her know she can come to you if she feels uncomfortable with how she’s being treated. Together, you could decide how to handle it (for instance, talking to her school counselor).

Parent To Parent

Foreign language: Learn together
My daughter Kelsey is taking French this year.
While she was studying for a quiz recently, I recognized a couple of the vocabulary words from when I took French. So I asked Kelsey if she would teach me more words.
She had fun helping me pronounce the words and quizzing me on their meanings. I learned that la pomme means apple and l’oiseau is bird. Throughout the week, she even tried to weave the words into our conversations to see if I’d remember them.
Then, for family movie night, I surprised Kelsey by downloading a movie in French with English subtitles. As we watched, we listened for words we recognized.
Kelsey is doing well in French class—I think speaking and hearing the language at home is really helping.


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Engineer a Suspension Bridge

Suspension bridges rely on cables to support the weight of vehicles traveling across them. Your child can explore engineering by making his own model suspension bridge.

First, have him look for suspension bridges when you’re on the road, in books, or online. What features does he notice? Examples: towers, cables, a deck.

Now let him select household materials and build the strongest suspension bridge he can. He might use paper towel tubes for the towers, fishing line for the cables, and heavy cardboard for the deck. How will he attach the cables to the towers and the deck?

He can test his bridge by counting how many toy cars it holds without sagging. Then, suggest that he redesign to build a stronger bridge that holds even more cars!

Q and A

Pleasant Chats with Tweens

Q-Whenever I try to have a nice conversation with my son, he ends up getting annoyed. Why is he acting this way, and how can we communicate better?

A-There are several reasons your son may become easily irritated. At this age, he wants to be more independent—yet he knows he still needs your guidance, which may feel annoying to him. Plus, he’s dealing with changing hormones.

You might find that you have nicer conversations when you’re doing something side by side, such as putting away groceries or shopping to find a gift for a relative. It could also help to talk when your middle grader is relaxed like at bedtime or on a weekend afternoon while you’re sitting on the porch.

Finally, you’re more likely to keep the conversation upbeat if you ask about things he’s interested in, perhaps what happened in drama club today or in the last episode of his favorite podcast.

Talking to a teenager