One of the most difficult transitions for kids and parents alike is the move from elementary school to middle school. Middle school students have different schedules and classes than they were used to in elementary school, which can be overwhelming at first.
So, how do you prepare your middle schooler to take on this new responsibility?
Here are some helpful tips to get organized so your child will be ready to start the school year off on the right foot.
Getting the right backpack
The backpack is probably one of middle schoolers' most important purchases. While a few years ago, most kids used book bags that were only big enough to carry books, today's backpacks must double as a mini office and lunch box in order to accommodate homework, binders, files and even mini-laptops.
They must be designed with special features like padded straps and backs that make carrying heavy loads less painful. If you're shopping for a new backpack or looking at replacing an old one because it's seen better days, here are some things you should look out for:
Is there padding on both sides of the backpack?
This will help protect against heat exhaustion when it's warm outside or hypothermia when it's cold.
Does it have multiple compartments?
A place for everything from pencils to calculators is crucial and many kids prefer zippered pockets over traditional ones since they feel safer about leaving their stuff behind.
Is there any extra padding on the shoulders?
Kids will complain if their bag hurts them. So look for something that won't dig into the skin. Also choose fabric patterns that will mask scuffs and tears since backpacks don't last forever
Are water bottle holders needed?
Lots of backpacks now include specially made slots for water bottles, but some just have elastic bands that can stretch to hold them. Depending on where you live and how long your child's commute is, it might be worth spending extra money to get a bag with actual holders instead.
Does your child play sports or instruments?
Athletic and musical equipment, for example, may require its own separate compartment away from books or laptops. Because they frequently come in odd shapes, they may require special placement within the bag.
Taking these things into consideration will help you save time and money as you'll not have to buy another backpack within the school year. However, if none of these really matter then obviously buy whatever looks good!
Stock up on school supplies
When it comes to school supplies, keep it simple. While you may love a good sharpener or fancy mechanical pencils with advanced lead replacements, those things are generally more expensive and ultimately not going to affect your child’s ability to learn.
Look for inexpensive items that won’t break easily, but will still do what they need them to do. However, if your child wants nicer writing utensils, see if they can get their friends involved in splitting the cost for nicer supplies—it could end up being cheaper than purchasing multiple sets of inferior ones.
If stocking up new school supplies seems too much for your budget, it's also smart to try and purchase some secondhand supplies as well - both books, folders, and clothing.
You may be able to find gently used clothing at thrift stores (particularly during winter months when kids outgrow last year's sizes), which could potentially save you hundreds of dollars each season!
The Right Locker Accessories
Your middle schooler is going to want cool accessories for their new locker (but that doesn’t mean you should go overboard). You don’t want anything messy or sticky, so go with accessories like wall hooks, a small bulletin board, and a few shelves that fit into any compartment—these are particularly good because they can easily slide out when it’s time to clean out your child’s locker.
Remember not to spend too much money on these items. Your child will most likely need something different in high school anyway. Don't waste your money on something they won't use later in life.
What matters now is getting them organized, making sure they have an easy-to-use lock (or combination), and ensuring that their backpack has enough room. That's all your middle schooler needs!
Not only will these things make back to school easier for them (and thus allow them more time to enjoy their summer vacation), but you'll also save yourself a lot of headaches when September rolls around!