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Preparing for Middle School

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: What can I do over the summer to help my son who will be going into sixth grade make the transition from elementary school to middle school easier? He is a B student who has some difficulty keeping on task and also has some trouble remembering things he has not done for awhile. His most recent standardized test scores were great in reading and language but very poor in math. He likes math, in fact, he feels it is his best subject. His grades are not in keeping with the scores he got and I plan to ask his teacher for suggestions also. I know if he is prepared for middle school he will make the transition easier. Thanks for any suggestions you might have.

A: All students find the move to middle school to be challenging, and it is even more challenging if they lack basic skills. You are definitely on the right track in trying to talk to the teacher about your son's test scores in math.

The teacher can indicate if your son has math problems as the scores indicate or if he is a solid math student as he believes. If the teacher is not available during the summer, a tutor or a commercial learning center should be able to discover any weaknesses your son has in math and develop a program to sharpen his skills.

Participation in activities this summer that require prolonged concentration should improve your son's attention span. Some good choices are games like Monopoly, dominoes, Yahtzee, and Hearts that will require your son to pay close attention to what is occurring in order to win as well as focus on developing a strategy. Encourage him to play them frequently. Other activities that build concentration include playing tennis, doing puzzles, reading for 30 minutes a day, building models, and learning keyboarding skills.

In order to retain what he has learned, your son needs to review the material more often. At the beginning of the school year, look over his school papers with him each day and have him tell you what he has learned. Also, help him organize all his homework, classwork, and tests and keep them in a binder so that he will be able to review them before quizzes and tests. He should also get in the habit of spending some time one day a week reviewing everything that he has done that week. All this reviewing will keep the material that he has learned fresh in his mind.

For great summertime learning suggestions, go to our Summer Learning Depot.

More on: Expert Advice

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.


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