Irony being that anyone who actually watched Boy Meets World hasn't been in middle school for a long time
As a parent, you can’t help but notice that middle school brings a lot of changes. Students enter as kids, and leave as teenagers. They get taller, smarter, and socially savvier; in New York they often start riding the subway alone. But middle school isn’t just a social and physical transformation—it’s also an important academic one.
How so? Parents know that elementary school is the place to build fundamentals, and high school is the place to prepare for college, but with so much to worry about—Common Core or college applications anyone?—it’s easy to forget about what happens in between. But middle school matters for one very important reason: it’s where your child learns to be a student.
Learning How to Learn
Middle school teaches many different subjects, but the most important lessons are not about the what, but the how: how to take notes, and how to study. Students come to middle school with varying degrees of experience with both, but they’ll quickly need to be able to take comprehensive notes in class, and to know how to use those notes later to study for longer tests on significantly more complex material. This is where they take all of the basic math skills of elementary school to learn multi-step algebra, or learn to write in-class essays for English and history tests.
The consequence of this jump from simple to complex material, from short to long tests, is that students need a new set of study skills—but almost no one teaches them. My middle school students frequently confess that while they tell they’re parents they’re studying, they don’t actually know how to study, because no one has ever taught them what that means. Even if they think that they’re prepared, they’re often using the same strategies they used in elementary school, which are no longer enough. Is your child studying, feeling prepared, and then still struggling on homework and tests? This misunderstanding of how to study may explain why.
Middle School in New York City
Middle school academics are particularly important in New York City, where students must navigate a confusing application process to get into high school. Your student’s middle school grades and New York State test scores impact regular public high school admissions, as well as his or her ability to study for the tests for admission to specialized public or private schools (with the SHSAT or SSAT/ISEE, respectively). Writing skills in and out of class are also an important part of high school admissions: public high schools like Beacon, Bard, and Millennium ask students to write essays both in an application and/or on the spot, and private schools have essays on both applications and tests.
How to Study
So what should you tell your middle school student about how to study? Here are some important tips to get started:
1) Be Active
Middle school students also need help building subject-specific study skills, and note-taking skills. If your middle school student needs help any of these skills, homework, or tests, contact Cambridge Coaching. We have expert middle school tutors in New York, Boston, or online!