A study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that sixth- and ninth-grade students with stronger self-reported positive family relationships had a higher likelihood of considering aggressive behaviors and retaliation unacceptable and were more likely to intervene, while those who reported feeling discriminated against or excluded by peers and teachers had reduced odds of defending bullying victims. Sixth-graders were more likely to intervene than ninth-graders, the study found.
This week, we’re celebrating all the hard-working teachers who are impacting students’ lives and improving health at school. Check the latest blog from the Alliance for a Healthier Geeration blog highlighting fun and easy ideas to show your appreciation. Remember to #ThankATeacher at your school who is making a difference!
The Search Institute Offers Praise Pointers for Parents and Teachers
The ways parents and teachers praise young people makes a lot of difference in whether that praise is encouraging and motivating. Effective praise helps develop a “growth mindset” in which young people recognize that they can learn and grow through effort and practice. The following chart spells out six tips for praise that encourage youth to develop a growth mindset.
|Purposeful, specific, and sincere||“Great game! You really passed well to your teammates.” is more encouraging than, “Great game!”||Being concrete reinforces those behaviors. If, however, you both know the player didn’t pass well or it wasn’t a great game, then this isn’t sincere. The praise won’t help the young person learn.|
|Reinforce behavior and effort, not “natural” intelligence||“Congratulations! I know you studied really hard.” is more encouraging than, “Congratulations! You’re really smart.”||The first option focuses on an action that can be maintained or improved. If you praise someone because of something fixed (such as “being smart”), it’s harder to cope with failure.|
|Attainable and realistic||“That is a beautiful picture. I love the colors you picked!” is more encouraging than, “That picture is amazing! It could go in an art gallery.”||Inflated praise can backfire. It gives the impression that you have to meet exceptionally high standards, which you know you can’t always do. That undermines motivation.|
|Information rich||“I love the salad you made. It has a nice mix of flavors and colors!” is more encouraging than, “I love your salad!”||Giving more detailed information reinforces strategies that can be used when similar situations come up in the future.|
|Self-focused, not in comparison to others||“You made a lot of progress in correcting grammatical errors.” is more encouraging than, “You did much better on this than many other students.”||Praising in comparison to others may motivate when we always win. But we feel defeated when we don’t always win, so we aren’t motivated internally to learn and grow.|
|Effort more than achievement||“I like how you took deep breaths to stay calm even when you were upset at your sister.” is more encouraging than, “Thanks for not pushing your sister.”||The focus on effort emphasizes being able to grow and learn.|
Being involved in your child’s school and schoolwork when they’re in elementary school is easy. Students in those grades need more help with assignments and attention from chaperones. Plus they are generally more inclined to have adults present and receive their help. In middle school however, all bets are off. Students feel less of a need to have their parents around and there are typically less opportunities for parents to become involved. Because of this you might have to think outside of the box or look for new ways to be involved with your child’s middle school experience. SchoolFamily.com put together a helpful list on ways to be involved with your child when they’re in middle school.
Get to know the teachers. It’s a good idea to meet each of your child’s teachers. Find out important information from them like how much time your child should spend on homework each night. Find out when tests are scheduled and ask what the best way to get in touch with them is if you have questions.
Find a niche for yourself at your child’s school. Unlike in the lower grades, middle school classrooms don’t need extra adults on hand. But you can volunteer in other ways. Serve as an adviser for an extracurricular activity such as the school paper, chess club, or science fair.
Volunteer to chaperone school dances and drive kids to school sports competitions. You’ll meet other parents, school staff, and your child’s classmates.
Go to school meetings and events. Attending concerts, plays, assemblies, meetings, and other activities is a good way to become familiar with your child’s school community.
Find out about homework assignments and school tests. If your school has a website where teachers list homework assignments, get in the habit of checking it regularly. If not, contact your child’s teachers and ask them to alert you when there’s an important project or test coming up.
Check your child’s homework, but don’t do it for him or her. Offer to check math problems, proofread written papers and look over spelling words. If you find a mistake, point it out to your child and help her figure out the correct answer.
Let us know what other ways you are involved in you child’s middle school in the comments below.