Are you a parent new to seventh grade? Get ready for kindergarten all over again.
Whether you are new to sending a child through seventh grade or not, there are some tried and true rules from Kindergarten that still apply this year. This is your instruction booklet for the proper care and feeding of your child, a student you will hardly recognize before the school year is over.
After teaching nearly sixteen hundred seventh graders since the turn of the century—the one ushering in modern technology, not the era of Victorian propriety (although we could use a little more of that these days) the biggest mistake I see parents make is allowing their students free reign to practice a little well-deserved independence.
This is not the year to let go. Freedom this early is scary for adolescents who are now likely navigating the world’s worst choices diverging in two paths in front of them.
Whether you think they are choosing wisely or not, the pressure is mounting, and once or twice this year, they will hit their breaking point. Let them know that when their limits have been tested and failed them miserably, you will still be there. There to love them. There to listen. There to dole out appropriate consequences. And, please know that in the classroom, these are common malpractices of many new seventh graders.
1) Do not let your child go off to school without protein for breakfast. They are ravenous, with bodies growing so fast, their minds cannot concentrate in class when their tummy is rumbling. Students could eat in class if it wasn’t for the wrappers that get thrown everywhere, justifying a school rule against it.
2) Do not let your child tell you they have already done their school work at school. Likely, this is not the case. There is always something academic to be done to stretch that growing mind that needs as much practice as the legs do to keep up with all those sports activities.
3) Ask to see the assignment written down in a daily agenda. If you suspect there are too many days without homework assigned, or a project to be worked on, have your child ask the teacher to initial next to where your child wrote in “No Homework”. This request will be viewed as especially gracious if it is not made in the midst of a scintillating lesson being taught.
4) The papers at the bottom of your child’s backpack, all crumpled and in need of ironing, are actually for your review. They are the new worksheets or test results, or permission slips, or detention notices, or love notes passed from a new friend. You can tell a lot about your child’s day by emptying this pit nightly.
5) Do not be satisfied that the book report or oral report your child is writing or rehearsing has come from their own intellectual property until you insert the first line of it into a google search. That’s what teachers do. It is stunning how many 4.0 students are plagiarizing work they have every skill to create simply because they are over-scheduled. Try searching several more lines of words you never thought they knew. You have either raised a baby genius, or you both just learned something new.