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‘Successful Strategies’ for Middle School


This fall, the Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) at Sunnyvale Middle School (SMS) presented an encore version of its well-received “Successful Strategies for Middle School” program, originally piloted in March 2011. Successful Strategies for Middle School is a free, three-part education series that focuses on preparing parents and students for the challenges of middle school including:

  • Sharing effective strategies for parenting middle school age children
  • Developing good study habits and homework discipline
  • Understanding the social atmosphere in middle school and learning how to navigate within a vastly expanded group of peers

Each event featured a 15-20 minute panel discussion followed by 40-45 minutes of audience Q&A (middle school students were encouraged to attend the Homework/Study and Social strategies sessions). The events were open to the general public and all parents are encouraged to download the detailed notes from the series; along with other parent education materials, event notes may be found on the PTSA page on the Sunnyvale Middle School website (under Parent Education).

The first program, Successful Parenting Strategies for Middle School, was held on September 21, 2011 at 7pm. A parent volunteer moderated a panel of 8th grade parents who shared their perspectives on raising adolescent children and what they’ve learned in two+ years at SMS. Laura Healy, who has high school and college age children in addition to an 8th grade student, recommended parents stay on top of their middle-school child’s progress in math mainly because it affects how they track in high school (which in turn affects their ability to take AP classes for college). Nina McQueen suggested parents take a step back from closely monitoring their child’s homework in order to let a middle school student stretch his or her wings a bit.

Successful Homework/Study Strategies for Middle School was held on October 19, 2011 at 7pm. An SMS teacher moderated a stellar panel of 6th/7th/8th grade SMS teachers who took parents and students through the nuts and bolts of note taking, test preparation and homework “best practices”. Brian Brown, a 7th grade Reading Language Arts teacher, offered a variety of useful tactics for advanced students to stay engaged and for struggling students to catch up to their peers. On behalf of the Math Department, 6th grade teacher Emily Moorehead took the audience through a scenario of a student struggling with math homework and offered a step-by-step guide to how a parent can best help their child.

Above: SMS teacher panelists and PTSA Parent Education Coordinator Kathy Besser

The final program, Successful Social Strategies for Middle School, was held on November 16, 2011 at 7pm and featured five 8th-grade students painting an accurate picture of the social landscape in middle school. Questions were presented on index cards so students in the audience would not hesitate to ask embarrassing questions. The panelists were amazingly polished and comfortable sharing personal information with the audience. The session began with the student panelists appearing on close-circuit television but ended with them directly engaging the crowd in the multi-purpose room.

The series is slated to be repeated at the start of each school year, with new panel members adding to the collective repository of information.

Article by Kathy Besser

Comments (3)

I think that this is a great program, however I was hoping that this would again be offered in the spring for my 5th grader going into 6th grade. The first year when it was held in March, it seemed like a great transitional series for incoming parents. I did not attend this Fall because I thought that it would be offered in Spring- I misunderstood completetly that the Fall series (which I heard was awesome) replaced the Spring program. Is there an orientation of some sort before Middle School for parents and students?

Hi Bridget,
We are definitely going to do a spring event! It will be a hybrid teacher/student panel on one night rather than the 3-part series (we figure parents can wait until fall for the parent panel). There are orientation events as well – the students are brought over during a school day and I believe parents and students are invited to the SMS Open House (check the SMS website for details).

Thanks for your feedback! (Kathy Besser, on behalf of SMS PTSA)

great! thanks Kathy (et al)

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