We all want our children to succeed in middle school and seem to always be looking for ways to motivate them and guide them through each school year. How can we: 1)help insure that they get and stay focused? 2)help them have the right mind set towards school and their studies? 3)assist them in reaching their goals? If we can help them in these areas, then they will be well on their way to becoming successful independent learners and eventually becoming responsible for their own education.
The middle school years are hard enough as it is, and when you throw in academic challenges on the road to independence, it can be overwhelming. During these middle school years, our children still need guidance as they learn to be more independent and successful learners. When I homeschooled my children for grades 5-8, I developed a method to help them in these exact areas. I called it “AEP” : Attitude. Effort. Participation.
I felt so strongly about these qualities in a student, that it was actually part of their grade in each subject. This simple model gave my children a way to check themselves and make sure they were giving 100% each day in each subject. We discussed expectations and how they could demonstrate success in each area. This model helped them stay on the right track and kept them working hard. It helped them become accountable for their own success. I truly believe these 3 easy steps helped my children succeed in middle school!
The AEP Model for Middle School Success:
A.E.P.=Attitude. Effort. Participation.
Most importantly, have a positive attitude. Pretty plain and simple. If you want to be successful at something (like middle school) you’ve got to have the right attitude – the right mind-set. If you think you can do something, you will do something. It’s just like The Little Engine That Could, “I think I can, I think I can.” If you tackle each day with a “go get ’em” attitude backed with determination, then you will surely have success. Remember also, that success can be measured in many different ways. Furthermore, remind your students that small successes lead to big ones. Having a positive attitude is half the battle.
I love the motivational quote, “She believed she could, so she did.” (Of course you can substitute “he” for “she”:) Your student may need assistance in maintaining a positive attitude, especially when frustrations or failures ensue. Help your child believe in herself by pointing out her strengths, while acknowledging any weaknesses she may have already overcome. One of our biggest jobs as parents is to encourage our children.
Put forth a respectable effort. Always try your best. Give it all you’ve got. Don’t give up. Have a strong work ethic. Eliminate distractions so that you can focus. When trying your best, if you fail, try again, you will eventually be successful. Perseverance will pay off. Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated, so your student may need some guidance in this area.
If your child is having a hard time seeing the results of their efforts, help them set goals. Sometimes having specific goals to achieve or a checklist of actions to complete, will help them visualize their success. Staying committed to giving 100% in each class each day will move them towards middle school success. This reminds me of the old computer phrase: GIGO – Garbage In Garbage Out. Essentially, you will get out of something, what you put into it.
Actively participate in the classroom – this includes paying attention. Engage with other students and the teacher by asking questions and sharing your own thoughts in classroom discussions. Join in during hands-on activities. Process what you know – think out loud. “What if…? I wonder why…?” Chances are, if you have a question about something, others do too. The bottom line is for students to be involved and get connected. They will be far more successful if they do.
One way for parents to support their children in this area is to ask them each night for an example of how they participated in a certain class that day. Hold them accountable. If they can’t give you an answer, ask them what they can do the next day to get involved. Be sure to ask them about it the next day;) If they come to expect that you are going to ask specifics, then maybe that will motivate them to participate more. Be sure to applaud their efforts.
Our Role as a Parent:
Be an engaged parent. Make sure your child knows that you care about their middle school success – both in the classroom and socially. Help them learn the steps of this model by going over it with them. Let them know you think these steps are important and can help them achieve their goals. Start off by checking up on them to see if they are following the AEP steps each day, in each class. Once they get in the habit of thinking about these objectives, they will become accountable and go through the mental checklist themselves. As they master each step in the AEP model, they will become independent learners. Isn’t that the true goal of middle school?
Always remember to encourage, guide, and support your student. Even as your student transitions from elementary school to middle school, they will still need your hands on parenting. Since this transition does not take place overnight, children in grades 5-8 still need to be pointed in the right direction, not left to fend for themselves. They are just learning to be independent and still need plenty of help along the way. Teach them how to fly, but don’t shove them out of the nest just yet.
Finally, as parents, we should try to set a good example. Our children are constantly watching us. More likely than not, they will imitate our behavior. Are we displaying a positive attitude? How are we demonstrating effort in our daily routines? Do we fully participate in our careers, home life, and community? Leading by example is a great teaching tool.
I hope you are able to implement these 3 easy steps and help your middle school student be successful! By the way, these steps can be used in high school as well – great little reminders to keep your students on the road to success. I happened to mention the topic of this blog post to my children the other day and they said they were just talking about AEP with each other recently! Makes a mama proud! They did confess, however, that they couldn’t remember what the “P” stood for…time for a refresher course, I guess!