Hi. I've been seeing many requests for middle school advice, and I decided to just make a guidebook.
I would like advice and additions from older people! Especially for your first period because I haven't gotten mine yet.
To begin, just remember that it will all be fine. Some days you might hate your teachers, or question your friends' loyalty, but in the end, it won't really matter. Just stay true to yourself as much as you can, and remember to breathe when you get stressed out. YOU CAN DO THIS!
Section One: The Academic Stuff (AKA not mood swings or drama)
Part One: Lockers
a. The lock
Getting your first locker can be absolutely terrifying, but really it's all cleared up by the second week. If your school allows you to bring your own lock, then buy 1 two weeks before school starts and practice opening the lock every day until school starts and you'll be perfectly fine. But, if you're like me and your school doesn't allow you to bring your own lock, then simply keep the note with the combination in your backpack the whole year and also practice your combination on orientation day.
ii. How to open a lock:
1. Turn the lock clockwise (or right) at least three times (I do it five times to be careful) and stop at the first number
2. Spin counterclockwise (or left) for one full turn and then stop at the second number
3. Turn clockwise (or right) directly to the third and final number
4. Pull the shackle and open your locker!
5. Celebrate! Woo! You opened it!
b. Decorations and organization
If you're extra like me, then you likely love to decorate! So, you're planning to decorate your locker. Just be careful not to go overboard! Lockers are made to organize, not make school harder!
(If any of you want, I can post a pic of my locker!)
i. My recommendations
This year I've made a few changes to my locker decorations/organization. Just like your bedroom, it should be organized so it doesn't get messy, but pretty so it makes you happy! So here's how I decorate and organize my locker:
- A bin with period products, retainer cleaner, deodorant, extra cash, and extra leggings and underwear
- A fake ivy vine on the inside of the door (I also recommend a string of fairy lights)
- A locker shelf. I keep my bin and lunch box on top and my binders and textbooks I'm not using currently on the bottom
My top three recommendations if you are minimalistic (or just in general) are:
#1: A bin with emergency products and supplies
#2: A locker shelf to maximize space
#3: Pictures or something small that sparks joy
ii. How to use your locker
This may sound lame, but some people really do struggle with figuring out when and how to make good use of your locker. I have a set schedule of when I go to my locker.
My schedule is:
- In the morning, when I arrive at school, I head to my locker and drop off my lunch box and grab my binder with stuff for my classes before lunch.
- When I get out of class for lunch, I head back to my locker to drop off my pre-lunch binder and pick up my after lunch binder and lunch box.
- After I finish eating, I put my lunch box back in my locker before heading to class.
- After the last period, I drop off my binders I don't need for homework and pick up what I do need for homework, as well as my lunch box.
I highly recommend making a set schedule for visiting your locker because it can really reduce the weight of your backpack.
Part Two: Switching classes/school schedules
Switching between classes can seem extremely stressful and nerve-racking but most schools actually have an at least 3-minute break between classes. Just to be careful, I highly recommend walking straight over to your next class's door and chatting or using your phone there.
Part Three: Backpacks
Even though you had a backpack in elementary school, they become much more necessary - and heavy - as you transition into middle school, especially in the later years. But even in 6th grade, the weight of your backpack does change quite a bit by the second week. So here are some tips on how to organize your backpack to keep your spine happy!
a. Reducing the weight of your backpack
i. Like I already said, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR LOCKER!
- I already explained this above.
ii. Once a week on Sundays, go through everything in your backpack and throw out anything you don't need and also store stuff you don't need at school in a safe spot in your home.
iii. Only take documents from the class that you need and know you will use.
- If you return it to the teacher then you won't waste paper by recycling it, since your teacher will most likely give it to another student.
b. What to keep in there
i. As for school supplies, you could use notebooks, a binder, or multiple binders. I use binders because they're reusable and you can shift around pages.
Here's what I recommend bringing for academics:
1. One or two binders or six or seven notebooks (remember to keep some in your locker when you don't need them!)
2. A black pen, two pencils, a pencil sharpener, a yellow highlighter, and a red pen.
3. A folder for each of your classes (I use an accordion folder)
4. A stapler and staples
5. Small scissors
6. Bic brand Wite-Out Tape
8. A planner! Remember to use it!
ii. Now that we've got the basics down, it's time for personal supplies. You've probably heard of the 'middle school emergency kits' that people make on Youtube. I like to call them 'Mishap Kits,' because it sounds less scary. Here's what I bring in mine (I keep more in my locker):
1. Two pads (sanitary napkins)
2. One pantiliner
3. Hand sanitizer
4. A small bag of almonds
5. A lip balm
Part Four: Homework & Studying
One of the main questions my younger friends ask me is: How much homework do you have?
Well, some of your teachers will be more heavy with homework, but as I've already said, in 6th grade you don't have too much more homework than you do in elementary school.
But, I understand why you'd be anxious about this. I was terrified that I would have way too much homework. My strategy is to sit down in a quiet space with all of the things you'll need for your homework in reaching distance. I turn on some study music and get a healthy snack and water. This is the order that I do my assignments (Keep in mind you won't have this many every night, or hardly any nights!)
1. Assignments that are due the next day. Do the ones that will take longer first.
2. Assignments that aren't due for a bit. If there are multiple, do a quarter or more of each, depending on how soon it's due.
3. Studying for tests (If the subject of the test is hard for you, then do it second.)
At my school, the only class that I had homework for every night was math, but it was just four problems from the textbook and would take about fifteen minutes. The hardest part with homework is balancing it with alone, chill time, family time, and time with friends.
One easy solution for balancing with alone time is to go back and forth between studying and watching Netflix, Youtube, drawing, reading etc. For example: Study for 20 minutes, free internet time for 20 minutes.
A solution for family time is to plan out the days you will have game nights or other family gatherings at the beginning of the year. You could even have a family work time where you all just sit at the dining room table and do your work.
For friend time, you can do your homework with friends! Start a study group!
(Keep in mind that these ideas are for if you have a lot of homework!)