Families: Middle School Checklist


Families: Middle School Checklist

Getting ready for college starts in middle school. You can help your student prepare for the future.



  • Do well in school.

    Help your student set academic and personal goals for the year in order to stay motivated and focused.
          Discuss ways to take on challenges. Help your student understand that failure is a learning experience and an opportunity for growth.

    Be vocal about your expectations for school.
         ●  Understand your student's academic growth and development.

    Absences make a big impact on student learning; make sure your student goes to class.
         ● Ensure that your student attends school as much as possible; schedule family trips during school breaks.
         ● Encourage your student to participate in classes and turn in assignments on time.

    Ask questions about your student's classes, teachers, homework and class assignments.
         ●  Knowing that you care will help your student take school seriously.

    Check your student's grades regularly.
         ● Keep track of weekly progress.
         ● Ask school staff how you can learn about your student's grades, opportunities for tutoring and other available services.

    Encourage reading for pleasure.
         ● Reading improves focus, concentration, imagination and knowledge.
  • Take the right classes.

    Talk to school staff to make sure your student is on track for high school.

    Encourage your student to take the most-challenging courses that he or she can handle.
         ● Tackling tough courses can give your student confidence and prepare him or her for higher-level high school classes.
         ● During class registration, see if your student can sign up for advanced classes in math (Pre-Algebra and Algebra) and language arts. Also see if your student can register for electives such as foreign language or computers.
  • Get organized.

    Help your student find a system to stay organized.
         ● Review the school calendar together. Note important dates and put them in a shared online calendar or in an easy-to-view place, such as a bulletin board in your kitchen.
         ● Encourage your student to use a paper or digital planner or calendar to keep track of school assignments and projects.

    Help your student find a quiet, well-lit study location.

    Establish a homework routine for your student to follow each day.
         ● Promote good study skills.
         ● Set limits around technology.

Conversation Starters

  • What are your goals for the school year for classes, sports, or other activities? What are your plans to achieve these goals?
  • What is one cool thing you learned today at school?
  • What is your favorite class in school? Why?
  • What is the most challenging class in school? Why? Who can you ask for help?


  • Get involved.

    Encourage your student to participate in extracurricular activities.
         ● Getting involved in clubs and other groups is a great way for your student to identify interests and feel more engaged in school.

    Get involved yourself. This will send a strong message to your student that you think school is important.
         ● Volunteer at the middle school.
         ● Make contact with teachers and the counselor. Know the resources at the school and make sure your student is aware that there is help when needed.
         ● Attend award ceremonies, activities, sporting events etc.

    Help your student sign up for summer programs or activities.

    PARENTS OF 8TH GRADERS: attend high school orientation with your student.
  • Spend time with good people.

    Get to know your student's friends and their parents.
         ●  Peers will have an increasingly large role in your student’s behaviors and actions.

    Help your student find a trusted adult or older student who can serve as a mentor.
         ●  Schedule time with your student to discuss school, goals, and how life is going.
  • Make good choices.

    Help your student understand appropriate, safe behavior online and on the phone.
          Help your student set appropriate privacy settings on social media.
          Remind your student to only share information with people he/she knows and trusts, that information posted can live online forever, and to always ask him/herself: would I want my grandma/teacher/religious leader to see this?

    Share your expectations and the risks of behaviors like drinking, doing drugs, and having sex.
    Understand your student's social and emotional development.

Conversation Starters

  • What is one new activity that you want to try this year?
  • Who did you eat lunch with today?
  • Who is your favorite adult at the school? Why?


  • Explore college and career options.

    Talk with your student about his/her future career goals and help make a plan.

    Share your expectations about college attendance.

          Talk about the importance of higher education.

    Help your student explore the different types of postsecondary options.

    Find out if the school will take any field trips to college campuses and encourage your student to attend.

    Visit a college campus with your student.

          Volunteer as a chaperone for school field trips.
          If you live near a college, look for upcoming events on campus that are open to the community (like sports games or theater productions) or see if the college offers classes to local students and families.
  • Learn about paying for college.

    You can afford college. Learn about financial aid.

    Set up a college savings account for your student.
    Look into matched savings accounts that provide extra money for college.

    Encourage your student to search for scholarships and apply to any available now.

Conversation Starters

  • What job or career sounds interesting to you? What kind of education or training do you need?
  • Why do you think you may or may not want to go to college?