The Checklist for Middle School

Nervous smiles will greet this year’s class of sixth graders.  Many will be eager to finally meet classmates, merging from other elementary schools to form their future class of 2028.  Students seeking friendships and information will ask, “What’s your name, and what school did you come from?”  While the immediate tripling or quadrupling of classmates may feel overwhelming, students will discover a new phenomenon in attending a much larger school—hallway congestion. Don’t worry!  Classroom rules, routines, and expectations are part of the learning curve!  One of the best ways to feel leaps ahead of the class is to have a plan for managing time and organization.

Here are a few tips to help students feel well-prepared and successful!

Backpack Packing Guide:  Many students will transition from “cubbies” to lockers, while others will miss the opportunity and live out of their backpacks. Well before day one, get to know the depth and width of every zippered area and pouch.  Start thinking about where to place essential items, such as pencils, highlighters, erasers, index cards, and other class supplies.  The goal isn’t to dig, but to reach in and extract with ease!

TIP: Even if you have trouble finding shoes on school mornings, it’s wise to maintain a tidy backpack, expectedly placed by the front door.

  1. Where Did that Paper Go? In elementary school, students learned in math and science how to utilize a spiral notebook. The self-contained format prepared students for the next step—a three-ring binder.  Parents can assist by using color to differentiate subjects.  For instance, red could indicate math, while green connects to ELA. Teachers will model set-up by insisting that each page include a headline and date.  Both are essential if the unspeakable happens—prongs remain open, and months of papers spill onto the floor.

TIP:  Don’t buy economy; instead, accept the expense and purchase durable binders!

  1. The Handy-Dandy Planner: Yes, it’s rather large in size and cumbersome, but it has appealing aspects, such as that students can record assignments both long and short-term, and reminders, such as “wash gym shorts,” “bring in dryer lint for Wednesday’s science class,” or “math test on Friday.”  One helpful feature is each month’s full-page calendar, which can help students better visualize long-term deadlines.  It may be a life-saver!

TIP:  Save time by opening the planner to the day’s date at the beginning of class.  As teachers call out reminders or instructions, a student can jot them down without having to rely on his or her memory.

TIP:  Each day, start by setting homework goals, especially for long-term assignments.  Just remember, procrastination never results in a satisfying grade!

  1. Homework Folder: Who wants the embarrassment of flipping through binders, folders, and a backpack in search of homework? The easiest solution is to designate one eye-catching or colorful folder for assignments.  Mark the left side as “assignments” by keeping handouts or directions for long-term projects.  The right side will contain completed work.

TIP:  As students pack up at the end of the day, they should always remember to take home the homework planner and folder.

  1. Homework Hour: Sitting down to begin homework can feel exhausting; therefore, organize your evening ahead of time.  For instance, chose the hour to start.  How about 4 PM?  Many students will know how long homework takes most nights; so, choose to complete one subject before taking a ten-minute break!

TIP:  Always begin with the most challenging subject and finish with your favorite class.

TIP:  Eliminate distractions by completing homework in a semi-quiet place, such as the dining room table or den.  Turn off or leave behind all technology during student sessions.

Creating a “homework” schedule and using strategies for time management will most certainly help all sixth-graders be successful and prepare for new challenges and greater responsibilities!   Have a great year!


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