My family embarked on the middle school adventure last year with some trepidation. We were already riding the emotional roller coaster of adolescence at home. I feared the prospect of adding middle school drama into the mix. Memories of my own sixth-grade awkwardness, self-doubt, and tumultuous friendships fed my apprehensions.
My go-to anecdote for fear is knowledge. Instead of allowing myself to meditate on the “what if’s” of the middle school mystery that lay before me, I started reading. Several books on parenting tweenagers gave me the information and tools I needed to prepare for our entry into the great unknown.
This list of resources will be helpful for parents of fifth, sixth, and seventh graders. There is no need to stand in the parking lot of middle school orientation with knocking knees. You, too, can walk into the front doors of your child’s new school with confidence. (Just don’t hover too close to your kid; they will be eternally embarrassed if anyone knows they have actual parents.)
Six Books to Prepare You for Middle School
By Cynthia Tobias and Sue Acuña
Educators Cynthia Tobias and Sue Acuña give parents an inside look at the mind of middle schoolers. This powerful duo dives deep into the mystery of pre-teens, including communication, homework, and hormones. Acuña shares actual quotes from her students, helping parents understand the unspoken turmoil of adolescence. Each chapter includes practical tips for applying the principles covered. This book offers “solid, tried-and-true ways—many directly from students themselves—to help you build and keep a strong and positive relationship with your child through what is often one of the most difficult stages of life.”
My Life as a Middle School Mom
By Angela Hunt
Angela Hunt covers middle school parenting quite literally from A to Z. Beginning with academics and ending with zits, this book contains twenty-six chapters of wisdom. Hunt brings humor to the table, a necessity when dealing with middle school mayhem. She shares stories from her own life and the lives of friends to make this parenting book very relatable. This book is a wealth of information we can go back to again and again.
By Dannah Gresh
Dannah Gresh has been working with tweens since 2003. As the creator and author of the Secret Keeper Girl titles for tweens, she has an established reputation with this age group. In Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl, Gresh gives parents six areas to address in the tween years. She covers body talk, commercialism, technology, boys, and more. My son is two, so I haven’t read the companion guide book for boys yet. It promises to address similar topics for boys. This book is ideal for third to fourth-grade parents, but it has benefits for the fifth to sixth-grade parents.
By Kristen Welch
In Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, Kristen Welch addresses the perplexing, modern-day issue of ungrateful kids. She quotes psychiatrist Dan Kindlon, “We give our kids too much and demand too little of them.” Welch tells her personal story of shifting the perspective in her parenting, and therefore, her kids. She gives practical steps at the end of each chapter to incorporate the principles discussed. These middle school years are the perfect opportunity to teach our kids the value of work and money. Our kids’ worldview will expand exponentially during the middle school years. Let’s be intentional about teaching them to be generous, fulfilled adults.
This selection addresses the heart of the parent. The years ahead of us will be tumultuous. Our attitude going into the storm of the teenage years can make all of the difference. Thomas says, “When we realize that having children isn’t about us but is rather about God, then the trials and sacrifices of parenting are more easily borne.” He uses the pages of Sacred Parenting to shift our perspective heavenward. Thomas’ book is strong in scripture-based principles. This is a parenting classic you will want on your bookshelf for years to come.
By Donna Goldberg and Jennifer Zwiebel
Around fourth or fifth grade, students begin to take on more responsibility for their class work and homework. While this helped my daughter prepare, her first year in middle school was a rude awakening. Incomplete and lost assignments began to pull her grades down. The Organized Student helped us develop a workable system for my disorganized child. This guide is full of practical tips as well as some of the reasons behind the struggle.
My daughter was a little nervous in the months leading up to her first day of sixth grade. She was excited about her locker and new freedom, but the bigger school and added responsibilities loomed in the distance. I found her peeking over my shoulder when I opened a book with “Middle School” in the title. So, while you have your nose in these excellent parenting resources, allow your middle schooler to prepare for the journey with these selections.
Three Books to Prepare Your Child for Middle School
By Lee Strobel
The bubble is bursting. Our kids’ worldview is expanding. Our kids will meet students whose opinions vary from what our kids learned in Sunday school. They may even encounter teachers that challenge their faith. Apologist Lee Strobel brings the classic, Case for Christ, down to a student’s level. He offers solid evidence for Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. Equip your child to stand firm in their faith with this and other student editions of popular Strobel titles such as Case for a Creator.
By Dannah Gresh
The hormones, the hair, the odors! Tween bodies sometimes mature faster than their self-care skills. Our kids will experience some big environmental changes in the coming year. But they will also experience some big body changes, as well. Dialogue surrounding these changes can be awkward for kids (and parents). Sometimes reading about it with a parent or before/after talking to a parent makes it a little less awkward. Gresh’s books are biblically based and trustworthy for your budding kid.
by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh
We see emerging generations struggling with the definition of truth. They have a tendency to take a conglomerate of opinions and develop their own “truth.” A spin-off of Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ classic Lies Women Believe, this version helps younger readers establish God’s Word as the standard for truth. The book will help young women uncover lies they may believe and replace those lies with biblical truth. Some examples of lies include: “I would feel so much better if I had a boyfriend,” “God’s really not involved in my life,” and “I’m ugly.” This book and companion study guide would be an excellent curriculum for a middle-school-girls small group.
These summer months are a great time to take your ten-to-twelve year old out to a coffee shop and your local bookstore. Help them select a book to prepare for this new adventure. Grab one for yourself, too. You can use the information you learn together to approach middle school with confidence.