College can seem like decades away when kids are in their early teens. Strangely, though, the middle and high school years have a tendency to fly by faster than the speed of light! (Just ask the parent of any current college student.) True, your son or daughter’s seventh grade report cards won’t directly affect his or her junior year GPA or SAT scores, but middle school classes do provide a foundation for high school classes.
So even if they try to brush off your advice because they have “more important things” to worry about, make an effort to talk with your kids about the importance of education. Spend time together and set good examples in your own life.
Establishing good routines early on can help kids prepare for everything down the road. Encourage your child to adopt the 10 habits listed below. Rest assured, you will be thanked at some point!
1. Take your classes seriously.
Geometry and English might seem like total bores compared to computers and art, but you’re required to take fundamental courses for a reason. Don’t beat yourself up if you get a B instead of an A – no one’s perfect – but realize that all of your classes are important. Ask your teachers for help when something is not clear or you’re having trouble with a certain subject.
2. Do your homework.
Some students have the attitude that schoolwork should only be done at school. If you are one of those people, it’s time to change your opinion! Homework provides extra practice that can also help your teachers judge your understanding of topics. Your parents probably have to answer emails and occasionally work on things from home too, right? So “homework” continues when you’re in the workforce. Get used to it!
There’s a good chance you won’t like everything you have to read for school. That’s okay. Find things that you do enjoy reading! College classes will require a lot of reading, so the more you read at this age, the better you will be at understanding and comprehending things later!
4. Keep an organizer.
A student planner is a great way to stay on top of things, especially if you usually find yourself waiting until the last minute to study or work on assignments. Procrastinating is a bad habit that’s tough to break. If you’re already doing it now, make an effort to stop. Your future self will be glad that you did.
5. Set goals.
Have you ever won a big game or contest after preparing and practicing for weeks? That feeling of excitement afterwards is great! Working toward something and accomplishing it can make you feel like a king. Make a list or a chart of goals that you have for school, sports, music, clubs, church, or any other aspect of your life. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your future accomplishments. (Your organizer is a great place to keep track of your goals!)
6. Speak with your parents and other adults.
Successful students generally report that their parents are involved in their lives and interested in what they have going on. Don’t be afraid to talk to your parents about school, friends, problems that you’re having, or anything else. Talk to other adults in your life, too! Teachers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, your friends’ parents, and even neighbors just might be cooler and more understanding than you think they are.
7. Join a team or a club.
Even if you enjoy spending time alone, friendship is important. Friends and teammates that are close to your own age can probably understand what you’re going through a little bit better than adults can, even though they experienced similar things when they were younger. Spending time with people who share your interests can also help you stay on track and achieve the goals of the entire group. Everyone can achieve more when they work together.
8. Visit a local college.
Ask your parents to take you to check out a nearby college. If you feel uncomfortable just walking around with Mom or Dad, most campuses offer organized tours. Many schools even have summer camps or special programs for middle and high school students. Seeing what a campus is like in person will be fun and it can help give you a better understanding of college in general.
9. Become more responsible around the house.
One day in the not-so-distant future you will have to wash your own clothes, cook your own meals, and take care of your own apartment. Learning how to do basic chores around the house now will not only help your parents out immensely, it will teach you things you need to know anyway.
10. Have fun! Enjoy your hobbies.
Even though school and studying are important, so is having fun! Spend time doing things that you enjoy. Your hobbies might even lead to your future college major or career.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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