Surviving The School Year with Older Kids, A Few Tips

Surviving the school year with older kids (middle school and high school age) is a bit different.  Our elementary years officially ended last year.  I thought I might be sad.  I was fine though.  When it is time to move on, you just know it.

When my oldest started middle school, it was a bit scary and intimidating to me.  I wondered if he wanted to go to summer school to learn the building.  His response:  “The building is a big rectangle, I think I’ll be able to figure it out.”  That was one of those moments when I knew my oldest would be okay.

Again, when he started high school, I found it scary and bit intimidating.  He did take a summer class but not out of fear so much as to get a credit (P.E.) out-of-the-way.  He was okay.  Me?  I’m still trying to figure out the parking lot one year later.  At least, I knew where I was going during enrollment.

My youngest started middle school and it was okay.  It wasn’t scary or intimidating to me at all, perhaps because it is now a 6th grade center or the red tape for simple tasks was keeping me too annoyed to be afraid.  His big brother helped by giving advice and alleviating fears.

Our school year started 2 days ago.  Other than a minor misunderstanding by J that meant he didn’t get on the bus to come home, it started off pretty well.  I’m sure some of our successful start to this year comes from the foundation of tips I’ve collected during the time my two kids have attended school.

Note: These aren’t all my very own tips, some are from wonderful friends who’ve shared their wisdom with me.  Some of these tips may work for elementary years or are important to establish in the elementary years if possible.

I’m tired so I’m just going to do a bullet list for these.   surviving the school year with older kids

Surviving the School Year With Older Kids

  • Make yourself some friends!  This is a good one to start while your kids are in elementary school.  Your kids need them but you’ll need them as well!

  • A friend gave me this advice and I count it as the best starting middle school advice out there. Buy 2 sets of P.E. Clothes.  It’s worth the investment especially if you don’t like to do laundry or you have a slightly forgetful kid.

  • Middle school students lose things, often.  My oldest lost a personalized towel when he was in the 6th grade.  How do you lose a giant, personalized towel?  I have no idea.  Sometimes they find things.  Often, not.  We never found the towel.

  • Be prepared to be shocked financially.  Everything costs more in middle school and high school.  Yearbook prices in elementary school are pocket change, in middle school, they are the cost of a decent lunch out, and in high school, they are equivalent to a fun and frivolous Target shopping trip (or 3).

  • Learn to maneuver the school district web site. Follow your kids’ schools on all social media…you’ll discover most of your information this way.

  • If possible, sign up to have the daily bulletin or announcements sent via e-mail.  Kids in middle school and high school tend to be very selective and last-minute about sharing information.  My oldest often complained he couldn’t hear the middle school announcements as well.

  • Find and embrace your sense of humor!  You will need it.  Often.  Better to laugh than to cry (see above tip about middle school and high school kids sharing important information in a very last-minute fashion)

  • Do NOT, repeat do NOT buy all the school supplies on the lists for the middle school.  If you are staring at a list and wondering why anyone would need say 12 spiral notebooks (an actual amount on our list one year), it’s because they don’t need 12 spiral notebooks.  My child brought home 6 or 7 spiral notebooks that year.  Save your money and wait to see what the teachers would actually like your children to have in class.

  • There is not a high school school supply list.  Send your kid with a notebook, paper, and a pencil or pen.  Then, get used to the idea that you’ll probably make a minimum of 10 trips for various and possibly obscure school supplies the first 2 weeks.

  • Another well-kept secret, school supplies aren’t only in the school supply aisles.  I actually found G’s lunchbox in the camping and cooler aisle.  It’s held up much better than some of the ones from the “school supply” aisle.  Don’t forget to check out the office supply aisles as well, sometimes they have the same items in a quieter setting than the loud, overcrowded back to school aisles.

  • Even though I still love all the character themed supplies, cute kittens on a spiral? Okay.  Surviving the school year with older kids means embracing everything “plain.”  The trade-off is that plain tends to be much cheaper which is good since you need the extra money to pay for yearbooks and activity fees.

  • If your child participates in a sport or activity with outdoor practices in the afternoons, don’t forget the sunscreen!

I can actually summarize these tips for surviving the school year down to just three things you’ll need:

  1. Money, and lots of it!

  2. A sense of humor, a good one!

  3. Great detective skills for uncovering “secret” information (Ha! See #2)

I’m sure there are tips I’m missing here.  If you have older kids, what would you add to this list?  And if you have younger kids, don’t worry…the older kids will be a lot less scary when your kids reach these ages.

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