Tag Archives: middle school

5 Free Tools To Keep Your Son Focused This School Year

Back to school can be an exciting yet stressful time of the year. If your son is starting a new school or transitioning from elementary to middle or middle to high school, he’ll need tools to help him stay focused, organized and calm.  The following tools are great for giving your son an extra edge for the start of the school year.

Photo courtesy of Mrehan(Flickr)

Photo courtesy of Mrehan(Flickr)

1. Does Your Home Encourage Learning Questionnaire

Does your home reflect an environment conducive to learning? Depending on your son’s age, you can create a learning environment by providing resources  that support what your son learns in school as well as his specific interests. For example, if your son is interested in astronomy, there are low cost ways you can encourage his learning through DIY kits. Our kids spend many hours at school, so at home we want them to relax and unwind. This questionnaire helps you identify areas in which you may need to improve your child’s learning environment.  Does Your Home Encourage Learning


2. How Many Ways Are You Smart and Learning Styles Quiz

People are smart in various ways. We don’t need to get bogged down by what society defines as gifted or intelligent. Also, emotional intelligence is equally important as IQ.  Even if you know your son’s learning style, he needs to know how he learns best and his strengths. Knowing his learning style gives your son an advantage to learning faster.  How Many Ways Are You Smart and Learning Style Inventory Survey


3. School Year Vision Board

I do this with my oldest son every year  before back to school. It’s a great visual for boys to look at the year ahead. This is not a wish list but rather a visual plan for your son’s personal and academic success. Think of it as a visual reminder of his goals for the school year. There are online vision boards but I like the the old fashion way with a large poster board and pictures from magazines. I never tell my son what he can’t put on a board, I just give him tools on how to use the vision board.


4. Goal Setting Toolkit for Boys

Research shows that written goals have a 80% higher chance of being achieved. Goal setting for kids should be simple and short term. I’ve created this simple tool for boys because it gives them the steps they need to take to achieve their goals. Use this tool just for the year and have your son review it daily or weekly to ensure he is on track. When you sign up for my newsletter, you get the goal setting kit for free.  Raising Great Men Newsletter Signup and Free Goal Setting Toolkit


5. Stress Style Inventory

One of the many complaints I hear from parents and students is that they are overwhelmed and stressed.  The problem isn’t the stress but the how to properly manage the stress. Most kids and adults are not aware of their stress style. It is helpful to know if you experience stress through your mind or body. This inventory form helps you identify your stress style as well as offer tools for managing your stress.  Stress Style Quiz

These tools are a great way to get a jump start on the school year.  If you have other tools to share, please comment below.

How to Have a Healthy and Productive Back to School

It’s the time of the year that most kids have been avoiding; Back To School!


Going back to school can make some kids anxious. Some are starting kindergarten and others are transitioning from elementary to middle school or from middle school to high school. Help your child keep things in perspective by helping them to realize that this new experience is exciting. Encourage them to have a positive attitude about the experience. Start off the school year by leading by example. Set the standards for a responsible, independent, and successful child by being the role model. Here are some tips for making back to school a less stressful experience:


Preschool: Make sure your preschooler starts the day with a healthy breakfast. If you have a fussy eater, try variations of his  favorite foods.

Elementary/Middle School/High School: Kids in this age group need to have healthy eating habits as well as a fitness regimen. Serve your children healthy snacks and involve them in grocery shopping and the preparation of food. Try a new snack for lunch each week. If you’re stuck on what to serve your children, check out http://www.yourkidsandnutrition.com. Make sure your kids get adequate exercise each day.


Preschool: Your child needs 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Develop and be consistent with a bedtime routine. Have your child engage in quiet activities before bedtime, such as reading a picture book or completing a puzzle. Avoid liquids close to bedtime. Check out: http://www.sleepforkids.org

Elementary: Encourage your child to develop a routine of falling asleep and waking at the same time, even on weekends. After a summer vacation, it can be quite difficult to get into the habit of falling asleep early. Have your child start sleeping an hour earlier and slowly transition into the appropriate bedtime. Avoid television and caffeine close to bedtime. Extra tip: Pay attention to any signs of stress. Ask your child questions to find out if they are anxious or feeling stress because of the new school year. Let them know you are available to listen, if they want to talk. For more information on kids and stress, visit http://www.kidshavestresstoo.org

Middle School/High School: Your child needs between 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep. Monitor digital technology intake before bedtime. Advise your child to avoid computer games and heavy studying before bedtime. Make sure your child turns off the television before bedtime.

Time Management

Preschool: If you want to avoid being late in the mornings, wake up a 1/2 to 1 hour earlier and get yourself prepared. Lay out the clothes the night before or if you able to for the entire week. Have breakfast ready for your preschooler and make getting ready a game. Play a beat the clock kind of game with your child. Preschoolers are very competitive and like to win.

Elementary School: Show your child the value of time by how you prioritize and organize your time. Teach your child to be more independent and responsible by allowing them to pick out their clothes.  Agree to a scheduled study time and support your child in being consistent with this time.

Middle School/High School: Avoid resentment and power struggles by setting reasonable guidelines. Help your child to approach time management with confidence. Instead of lecturing about the importance of time, show your child how to use their time more effectively. If they see you procrastinating, then they will assume it’s acceptable for them to procrastinate. Create a schedule and a list of things to do together. Teach them to set and follow through on specific goals.

Don’t forget to be supportive and provide a lot of encouragement throughout the year.

If You Could Survive Middle School, You Can Survive Anything


When my son shared with me his middle school woes, I listened empathetically to his complaints about unfair teachers, rude and obnoxious kids and an overall distressing environment. Instead of giving him advice or criticizing his feelings, I just listened. After all, my middle school experience wasn’t ideal.

He didn’t go to my husband because (I’m quoting him) he was the Zach Morrison of his school. I was however a cross between Lisa Simpson and Sue from The Middle. My son felt comforted by my silence because he just wanted to vent, which is all you really want when you’re a kid.  When I was in middle school, I wanted to complain to my parents too, but I didn’t want to bother them. 

I had most things working against me in middle school, with the exception of acne, bad teeth or braces. Besides that, I was a mess. I won’t bore you with the details because unlike some people, I escaped with minor emotional bruises. Nothing so bad that required therapy or inviting former classmates to a talk show to confront them. However, here’s what my middle school life was like:

  1. My mother insisted that I go by my middle name which made for many great recess taunting singalongs
  2. My hair was unmanageable which gave me the perpetual unkempt look, except for a bad incident in 8th grade which left me looking like Esther Rolle from Good Times
  3. I was skinny
  4. I had eyes and lips that were too big for my face (Think E.T)
  5. I was quirky- I didn’t like the stuff most girls my age did and the guys through I was an enigma
  6. I was optimistic and convinced that I was funny and cool despite the obvious
  7. I was a first generation American of strict West Indian parents- which at that time meant I got clothes out of necessity, not fashion

The thing is kids will use anything and everything against you. Trying witty comebacks just increases the teasing. My only saving grace during those years was my older brother. While he could have ignored or avoided me, he let me hang out with him and his friends (sometimes) because what boys my age thought was weird, my brother’s friends found endearing and entertaining.

 As a mom of boys, I don’t have a daughter to relay my middle school stories, so I am saving it for my memoir (just kidding).

I do take comfort in one thing.  According to Facebook pictures, the years haven’t been to kind to some people.  Thank you Karma!