Penndale Middle School

Counselor Connection - August/September Issue

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Parents - what YOU need to know for your child's first day of school

At the beginning of the year, students are concerned about what to wear, what their friends are doing, and getting used to a new schedule. They're not thinking about some of the more important, but less exciting issues such as the school attendance policy.

Be proactive: learn about the following and share the most important and pertinent information with your child. Links are included specific to our school:

  • School Calendar: shows when grading periods begin and end, when parent-teacher conferences are scheduled, and when school is closed for holidays and vacations. Write all of these dates on your calendar at home.
  • Attendance Policy: know what the attendance and tardy policies are. You will also need to know what to do when your child is ill, going to be late, or needs to leave early for an appointment.
  • Middle School Handbook: review the rules regarding student conduct and behavior, dress code, cell phone policy, rules regarding medications, etc.
  • Class Schedule: check your child's schedule to make sure he/she is in the correct classes. If you ever feel that a course is too difficult or "not right" for your child, talk to their counselor.
  • Testing: know what standardized test[s] your child will be taking, when these tests will be given, and how your child should prepare.
  • Extra-Curricular Activities and Clubs: students who participate in school activities generally enjoy school more and get better grades. Research what activities interest your child and encourage them to get involved.
  • School Counselor: counselors monitor student progress and help students figure out how to deal with difficult situations. Make sure your child knows who their counselor is and how to go about making an appointment.

Check Home Access Center for information online - teachers post student grades and homework assignments online, and email is often the preferred way of communicating with teachers. Be sure to check the Penndale website regularly for information and updates.

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My child is starting Middle School - how can I help?

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Common Student Concerns

Changing Classes - Being Late to Class - Getting Lost - Having someone to sit with at lunch - Opening their locker - Dressing for PE - Making New Friends - Being teased or bullied - Remembering their schedule - Classes that are challenging - More Homework

While most students are excited about starting middle school, many are also a little apprehensive. Take time to sit down with your child and talk about any concerns he/she may have.

Communication is Key

Keeping the lines of communication open those first few weeks is particularly important. Here are some tips to help you do that.

  • Ask open-ended questions: Instead of "how was school," say "What are you studying in science?" "What's that book about?" or "What did you have for lunch?"

  • Be available to listen: Timing is important. Be available to listen when your child wants to talk. Look for times when he/she is most likely to be open to conversation [when you're fixing dinner, driving in the car, before bed, etc.]

  • Recognize your child's concerns: Something that may seem like a small thing to you could be a big thing to your middle schooler. If your child has a concern or problem, listen attentively, and help him/her figure out how to deal with it and move forward.

  • Pay attention to nonverbal communication: Children aren't always able to put into words the things they need you to know. It is important to pay attention to your child's body language, eating and sleeping patterns, moods, and school performance. These can be good indicators of how things are going at school and with friends.

The Social Scene

Friends are very important to middle school students, and now that they're in a new environment, middle schoolers often have some apprehensions regarding the social scene. Here are some things you can do to help your child feel good about this very important aspect of middle school.

  • Encourage after-school activities: extra-curricular activities are a great way for students to meet other students with similar interests. Being part of a team, club, or group also gives students a sense of belonging.

  • Build self-esteem: students with a positive self image are less influenced by peer pressure and less affected by social concerns. Foster your child's strengths through family activities, developing his/her interests and skills, church activities, volunteering, etc. Students who have a broad social network develop more self confidence and generally aren't as sensitive to middle school drama.

  • Expect friendship shifts: in middle school, friendships often shift and change - a best friend in elementary school may now have new interests and be making new friends. Encourage your child to keep his/her "old friends," and to work on making new ones.

  • Discuss bullying: bullying can sometimes be a problem in middle school. If your child is concerned about bullying, encourage him/her to stand tall, walk confidently, and use body language that shows self-confidence. [Bullies tend to target students who are passive or quiet.] If your child ever mentions anything about being harassed or bullied in school or online, find out exactly what has happened, and talk about how to best deal with the situation. You may also want to discuss what's happened with your child's counselor or principal.

  • Promote independence: If your middle schooler has a question or problem, try to help your child to figure out how to take care of it on his/her own. Being able to get their questions answered and their problems resolved helps students gain confidence and give them a sense of empowerment. You want your child to become more independent and self sufficient; however, it's important for your child to know that you are always available if he/she ever needs your help.
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Final Thoughts

Middle school students are going through a lot of changes. More than anything, your child needs support, patience, and lots of hugs.

Penndale School Counselor Staff

[7th grade A-R] Mr. Nate Harvey

[8th grade A-R] Mr. Chris Joy

[9th grade A-R] Mr. Mike Flynn

[7-8-9 S-Z] Mrs. Susan Reichwein

Administrative Assistants

Mrs. Moore to Mr. Harvey and Mr. Flynn 215-853-1714

Mrs. Lynam to Mr. Joy and Mrs. Reichwein 215-853-1713