5 Winning Habits of Successful Middle School Students
Whether your child is new to middle school or in their final year preparing for high school, you want to help them feel confident in their studies. Indeed, there is much about these critical developmental years between childhood and young adulthood that you can’t control. Still, you can help them cultivate good habits that will benefit them through middle school and beyond.
Researchers have discovered traits that successful students share, such as grit and determination. But if your child struggles to build these traits, there is an easy way to help foster them—through their habits. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, states, “Success is the product of daily habits, not once-in-a-lifetime transformation.”
So, what are some habits of successful middle school students? We have a list of five success habits we’ll share below, so read on!
Middle school students carry many more responsibilities than they did in their elementary years. They likely have multiple classes led by teachers with different instructional styles and expectations. They may have a locker to organize and more textbooks than they have ever seen to remember to bring to class. Students can gain the independence and study skills that build the foundation for high school success by focusing on success habits. Here’s what successful middle school students have in common:
- They are organized.
Before school started, you probably noticed that your middle school student’s supply list moved from crayons and glue to three-ring binders, spiral notebooks in specific colors, and black-ink pens. And now, it’s up to your student to keep everything organized. Although daunting, managing their supplies and systems is a skill that will help them well beyond middle school: It will benefit them for their whole lives.
A few tips to aid your child with physical organization include:
- Designating space at home for them to store their books, folders, and paperwork.
- Teaching them how to reset and reorganize their workspace after they’ve used it and place completed assignments in their proper folders to return to school.
- Creating a routine to clean out their backpacks and binders at the end of the week so they enter Monday in order.
If your child learns to keep track of their study materials, they will remove barriers to good grades, such as forgetting completed work or losing assignments. They will approach their studies with more ease when all their materials are accessible.
- They’ve learned time management.
Along with physical organization, time management is a skill every middle schooler needs to practice. With more projects, assignments, and reading than in school years past, along with an array of new sports, clubs, and activities, they will need to learn to balance their time among all of their responsibilities for middle school success.
One way to put their time management on autopilot is to establish consistent morning and evening routines. You and your child can work together to make a plan that will fit your family’s schedule. It is essential to be consistent so your child knows what they should do and starts to do it automatically. In her book Better Than Before, author Gretchen Rubin explains how routines can set us (and our children) up for success: “We can use decision-making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then—and this is the best part—we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over.”
When routines become automatic, your child will rely less on willpower for daily tasks and have more mental energy to master new material in the classroom. Win-win!
- Reading is a regular activity.
We discuss the importance of solid reading skills frequently because literacy is foundational to many parts of academic success. Middle school textbooks contain complicated vocabulary and subject matter that students are responsible for reading independently. If your child isn’t reading on grade level, they will be significantly disadvantaged in most subjects, not just English. Fortunately, your child can bolster their reading skills by cultivating the habit of reading in their spare time.
When encouraging independent reading, let them choose their favorite books and reading materials. The goal is that they read consistently to associate learning with pleasure instead of a chore.
Independent reading will benefit your middle schooler in the following ways:
- Help your child grow their vocabulary.
- Increase your child’s reading speed, allowing them to complete their homework with greater ease.
- Reinforce what they are learning in class (for example, reading historical fiction can help your child better understand a historical event they studied in school).
The benefits of regular reading are nearly limitless. If your child isn’t already reading independently, middle school is a great time to start! And, if you cozy up on the couch beside your child with warm cups of cider or hot chocolate this fall, reading can be a time that also promotes togetherness.
- They know how to ask for help.
One of the best skills a middle schooler can learn is how to ask for help. Encourage your child to ask their teacher questions if they don’t understand a lesson. If your child is shy and doesn’t want to ask in front of the whole class, encourage them to ask the teacher after class until they feel more comfortable raising their hand.
If your child is struggling, let them know it’s okay to voice their concerns to you so that you can help them find a solution. They may benefit from:
- A parent or other relative helping them with homework.
- A study group of peers.
- Support from enrichment programs like those we offer here at Best In Class.
Most school subjects build progressively on what they have already learned. If a child has not mastered a skill by the time the lessons progress, they will have a more challenging time catching up. If your child can request help and think of ways to access support sooner rather than later, they’ll have an easier time staying on track.
- They get adequate sleep and nutrition.
A simple success habit is simply to help your middle schooler take care of themselves. A child who is rested and well-nourished will be able to conquer the day. Conversely, a student who enters their classes running on less sleep than recommended and poor nutrition isn’t primed for learning.
Sleep and diet are vital to keeping young brains working optimally. You can help your child by:
- Ensuring they get at least nine hours of sleep if they are under 12 and at least 8 hours if they are over age 13.
- Providing snacks that are low in sugar and processed ingredients and high in dense nutrients.
- Offering good breakfast and lunch options that will keep them fueled throughout their school days.
Healthy habits are essential for middle school students to achieve success. Besides, the positive self-care habits they learn now will remain with them as they grow up.