Reach the finish line
Like athletes running a long race, students may lose steam toward the end of the school year. Try these ideas to motivate your child to dig deep and keep working hard so he can overcome any hurdles and sprint across the finish line!
How to overcome: If your middle grader isn’t sure he can do well on his social studies test or finish his English paper, remind him of times he stuck with something even though it was tough. (“Remember when you thought you couldn’t play the guitar? You kept practicing, and now you can!”)
Hurdle: Lack of motivation
How to overcome: Knowing what he’s working toward can make putting in the effort easier. Encourage your tween to list goals for the rest of the school year (ace his science project, participate more in class). Then, have him think about extra benefits of reaching those goals (having a cool story to share at science camp, getting to know teachers and classmates better).
Hurdle: Difficult material
How to overcome: When your child runs into a challenge, like learning a tough math concept, suggest that he ask himself, “How can I get this done?” Answering the “three Ws” can guide him to a solution: Who can help? (A study buddy or teacher.) What do I need to do? (Extra practice problems.) When will I do it? (Twice a week for 30 minutes.)
Creative spins on journaling
One way to encourage your tween to write every day is to make it something she enjoys doing. These fun journal ideas will let her express herself while she sharpens her writing skills.
Nature journal. Suggest that your child write about the natural world around her. Her journal might include her observations about animals, weather, and constellations. She could also add drawings, quotes, and poems about how being in nature makes her feel.
Reviews journal. Tweens have lots of opinions! Your middle grader can write a review each time she finishes a book, watches a movie, tries a new product (like a smart speaker), or orders takeout. She’ll practice opinion writing and also have a place to look when friends ask for recommendations.
Math in daily life
When will your middle grader use math outside the classroom? Every day! Here are just two examples.
1. Cooking. Can your tween halve or double a recipe for you? (She’ll need to divide or multiply fractions.) Convert the oven temperature in an old family recipe from Celsius to Fahrenheit? (She should multiply the Celsius temperature by 9–5 and add 32°.) Figure out how many baking sheets are needed for 48 cookies if each cookie is 2 inches in diameter and there are 2 inches between cookies? (She will have to find out how many cookies fit along the length and width of a sheet, then multiply the two numbers.)
2. Shopping. Ask your middle schooler to help you find the best deals. Can she compare the cost of one coffee maker marked at 15 percent off $25 and another that’s 40 percent off $38? If you join a store’s frequent buyer club for $25 per year and earn 10 percent off each purchase, how much would you have to spend to recoup your $25?
Parent To Parent
Learning English at home
Our family speaks Spanish at home. Because our daughter Francisca is learning English in school, she has taught us some vocabulary. Her teacher mentioned that teaching others is a great way for kids to practice a new language.
When we watch TV in English, and I don’t understand something, Francisca tries to explain. We keep on the English subtitles so if she needs to look something up she can see the words.
She also downloads audiobooks in English for us to listen to in the car. Francisca enjoys finding books she’s already read in Spanish that are available in English to listen to. And we sometimes play games like Hangman and Scrabble in English, or in both languages, and ask Francisca to define unfamiliar words.
We continue to speak mostly Spanish, but our daughter is proud of becoming bilingual and sharing what she learns with us.
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Ways to practice gratitude
Inspire your tween to appreciate the good things in life. He’ll feel happier and more optimistic with these projects.
Q and A
Dangers of “edibles”
Q I heard that some neighbor-hood kids were trying marijuana edibles. How can I keep my son safe from them?
A “Edibles” — foods and drinks that contain the psychoactive component in marijuana — are sold in specialty shops and medical dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal for adults. Because they’re often “sweet treats” like gummies and brownies, they can be appealing to tweens. Kids may also like that the lack of smoke makes using them easier to hide.
Tell your son that edibles carry the same dangers to children as smoking marijuana, including lasting damage to memory and concentration. In addition, the high from edibles comes more slowly as the body digests them, so people may eat dangerous amounts.
Explain that if a friend offers him candy he’s not familiar with, he should read the label to make sure it’s really candy. If the package isn’t available, he’ll need to say no.
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