This post originally appeared on the blog Pathway 2 Success.

I absolutely love teaching middle school. Sometimes, though, when people hear that I teach middle school, they seem to feel bad for me. Like middle school is some type of unknown vortex for kids. Maybe that’s why I love it so much. It’s a time of creativity, instability, and the unknown. It’s a time when kids are going from being children to young adults. So much happens from 6th to 8th grade, and as a special education teacher, I have the unique experience of working with kids all the way through their middle school years. It’s truly a blast (granted, there are really hard days, but overall, it’s a blast!). I’m noticing more and more that kids are having significant difficulty transitioning over from elementary school to middle school. Trust me, it’s always been a challenge for both the kids and the parents. Lately, though, it’s been downright crazy. I’m not sure if it’s due to increased standards, busy and challenging home lives, or something unseen. Regardless, I see a big need to prepare our kids more for middle school years.

Middle School Transition Kit
Middle School Transition Kit

With that, I recently put together a Middle School Transition Kit. It outlines everything a first year middle schooler needs to know about, including staying engaged in classes, dealing with different teachers, effective study habits, study halls, the importance of grades, lunch time, knowing the rules, changing for gym, and so much more. It’s amazing to see it all with a different lens, since there are such huge changes from elementary to middle school. I also put together the top 10 keys to middle school success:

#1 Sleep well. Teens and young adults should be getting 8 to 10 hours per night. Enough sleep is critical for your body and brain to function well.

#2 Eat right. Healthy and balanced meals give your body and mind energy to work well throughout the day. Take extra time and effort to make sure you’re not only eating enough, but eating a mix of everything you need (fruits, veggies, dairy, and whole grains).

#3 Do your homework. Making it a habit to do your homework each night will help you practice skills and be ready for the quizzes and tests. It also helps to show your teacher that you care, which may come in handy when you need his or her help.

#4 Pay attention in class. Focusing and using class time wisely is one of the best ways to get ahead in middle school. Since you’ll be switching around from class to class, it’s important to pay attention and follow along for every minute that you can.

#5 Get involved. Research shows that school involvement can be a big determining factor for your success. Kids who are involved with after school activities, sports, and clubs are more likely to do well inside and outside of school.

#6 Think positive. Things are going to get tough and overwhelming at times. It’s important to stay positive and know that you CAN do whatever you put your mind to.

#7 Ask for help. Whether it is academic, social, or emotional help, there are adults at the school ready and willing to help you. Seek out and ask for help when you feel you might need it.

#8 Stay organized. A little organization goes a LONG way in middle school. Writing down homework in a consistent place and keeping pages organized in the right spots will help you study, turn in work, and do better on tests/quizzes.

#9 Make goals. Give yourself something that you want to attain by the end of the marking term. Then, make a plan and stick with it to get there.

#10 Take risks. Middle school is the time when you start to grow up and figure out who you are in the world. Take risks and be brave. It will pay off in the end! If you’re interested in teaching these keys to success to your middle schoolers (or future middle schoolers), I have a student-friendly worksheet in a freebie here:

Middle School Keys to Success
Middle School Keys to Success

Do you have any more keys to success that you think are necessary for your middle schoolers? Please share!

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Pathway 2 SuccessI am a middle school special education teacher who absolutely loves working with kids and young adults. I have been teaching over 9 years at the middle school level, but also have experience teaching elementary grades 2-5. My passion and expertise is working with kids who have social and emotional challenges. I believe that all kids need the chance to find their “pathway to success”. Please check out my TpT store Pathway 2 Success, visit me on my blog, or follow me on Facebook.