Local Principals Offer Tips for Success for Your Middle Schooler

It’s that time of year once again! Children of all ages are headed back to school, ready for new experiences and adventures. Many students are also facing the new responsibilities and challenges that come with the beginning of middle school. Middle school is an exciting time, especially when students are prepared for a successful start. In order to assist children who are beginning (or even continuing) middle school, two local area middle school principals have shared their advice for thriving in this new environment: Principal Kyron Harvell and Principal Charles Davis. 

Principal Kyron Harvell from Clague Middle School in Ann Arbor offers his expertise from over 17 years of experience in public education. Having served in a variety of roles in middle school, high school, and college, Harvell has a focus on social-emotional development and counseling that will help foster student success.  

Principal Charles Davis from Ypsilanti Community Middle School brings more than 25 years of education experience and working with elementary, middle and high school students. His passion for building relationships, data-driven decision making, and supporting students guides his advice for achieving excellence in middle school. 

Below, Harvell and Davis offer their top tips for helping your student take on middle school. 

Stay organized

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Both principals advise students to stay organized by using a planner or a digital calendar. A planner will allow students to stay on top of not only assignments, but also extra curricular activities and special school events. Keeping track of test dates will also help students prioritize studying.

Harvell notes that consistently using a planner will be helpful in the long term, as it “is also a good habit to form as you will need a planner for your postsecondary career whether it is college, trade school, military , or entrepreneurship.”

Prioritize time management 

Davis and Harvell also recommend that students focus on time management. Davis advises students to “prioritize tasks, create a schedule, and avoid procrastination to stay on top of assignments and other responsibilities.” He also recommends finding a quiet place where students can focus on breaking tasks into manageable pieces without distractions. 

Harvell explains that it is especially helpful to set aside specific times (such as after school from 4-6 p.m.) as designated homework time. It is especially important to complete any school tasks before jumping into leisure activities such as video games or TV. 

Put your best foot forward 

While studying is key, it is also important to put your best foot forward during the school day. Davis encourages students to stay engaged in class by taking notes, participating in discussions, asking questions, and giving your all to learn. 

Davis also encourages students to seek help when needed. Teachers, classmates, administrators, and parents are all great resources when a student is struggling with a concept or has questions about an assignment. Being willing to ask questions will help middle schoolers be at their best. 

Lean on each other

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Connection is key for middle school success! Davis is quick to point out the importance of keeping old friendships and also building new ones. Middle school students are often coming from several different elementary schools, so there are many opportunities to meet new people and create new bonds.

“Middle school can be a social time, but it’s important to maintain friendships while also being open to meeting new people,” Davis said.

It’s also important to connect through strong communication skills. Davis advises students to practice speaking, listening, reading and writing to communicate with respect both in and outside of school. 

Take care of your whole self

Middle school is a time of growth, and taking care of yourself might be the most vital part of middle school success. To begin, students must get enough sleep.

“Ensure that you are getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep daily as this will help you physically, emotionally, and mentally. This will also provide you with the focus that you need throughout the day,” Harvell said.

In addition to sleep, middle schoolers should prioritize healthy food and exercise. Good fuel and physical activity will allow for the balance and energy needed to take on the fun and challenges of middle school. 

Lastly, Davis encourages students to focus on their wellbeing by being positive and resilient. A positive mindset and the ability to learn from setbacks will allow students to excel.

“Don’t be afraid to try new things, take on difficult tasks, or step out of your comfort zone. Growth happens outside of your comfort zone,” Davis said.

By following Harvell and Davis’s expertise, you can help your middle schooler thrive and achieve as they begin this new adventure.

Dr. Alyssa Whitford
Dr. Alyssa Whitford
Author: Dr. Alyssa Whitford is a former K-12 teacher and current professor of education at Hope College in Holland, MI. She is passionate about literacy, social studies, and all things education. She is also a proud parent to two children of her own and loves sharing the holiday season with family.

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