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Our 8th Grade Game Plan #VoicesForOurSons

First, I have to pause and come to terms with having an 8th grader. A teenager. As we prepare for our last year of middle school, my son and I had a very serious heart-to-heart. Seventh grade was rough. Extremely rough. It was an eye-opener and one that he needed to have. I typically get special looks when I share that last part.

Tips For My 8th Grade Son

My oldest son is extremely smart – learning has always come easy for him. There was very little challenge prior to middle school. Sixth and, especially, seventh grade challenged him incredibly and he didn’t fare well at all. He became frustrated and distracted (darn hormones and girls!) and was endanger of failing this past year. Honestly, when he got his report card on the last day of school he didn’t even look at it – he waited for me to break the news to him.

Some blamed the special program he was in that had a more advanced curriculum, some blamed me for not pushing him enough and not doing the work with him on a regular basis, and some just shrugged it off as boys being boys. All of that frustrated me. I believe in allowing my children the opportunity to make decisions and facing the consequences from them.

The F Word

My son made the choice to not do his work, to not take his ADHD medication (that I was not aware of until later in the school year), and to focus more on the social aspects and “fitting in”. As a result of those choices, he received a serious scare and has been removed from the program he enjoyed so much. The coordinator for the program invited him back after seeing he really began to focus the last term of school and he was so excited. My request was that he write a paper detailing why he wanted to return to the program and what specific steps he would take to stay on track and improve his study habits. He chose not to write that paper. He will not be in the program.

Every year seems to be the year that’s preparing them for something else. However, our focus this year will be on 8th grade – the present and not the looming high school years.

Developing and reinforcing study skills. From note-taking to setting aside dedicated study time in the evenings – we are taking things back to basics and focusing on the strategies that work for him.

  • Re-writing his notes
  • Pay attention in class and eliminate the distractions he can
  • Pre-reading when possible so he can focus on what his teachers are teaching and not what is in his notes or books
  • Doing (and turning in) homework and assignments
  • Keeping a calendar and daily to-do list
  • Taking a mental break when necessary

Problem-solving. Not just with his school work but among his peers, too.

  • Making wise choices and thinking about the long and short-term impact of his decisions
  • Knowing when to talk things out and ask for a second opinion from a trusted adult
  • Not just going with the crowd to appear “cool”
  • Accepting the consequences of his choices, knowing when to apologize and being able to accept an apology and moving forward

Have a social life but remember your main goal. It’s great to see my son find himself, make different friends and enjoy life. We all created vision boards and they are displayed in high traffic locations to remind us all what we want to accomplish. We celebrate successes and reward ourselves when appropriate.

  • Knowing not to get caught up in “foolishness”, as I refer to it. The challenges we see on social media, bullying, drugs, toxic friendships – all of that falls into the foolishness category
  • Having an open dialogue with a trusted adult. I understand that he may not always want to come to me or his dad and I am okay with that. He has numerous other role models in his life that he can talk to and I trust to guide him in the right direction.

It sounds like a lot and appears a tad bit overwhelming at times (especially since we’re, also, tackling first grade, too!) but we are excited to start a new year – a fresh start with tons of possibilities for success and growth.

What tips for success do you have for your middle school son this upcoming school year?
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Who Will Be The Voices For Our Sons?

Who are we? We are all raising tween and teen boys of color and believe in the concept that it takes a village to raise a child. We share their successes, their opportunities for growth, their dreams, and their aspirations. While our experiences may differ, collectively we speak for our sons. I challenge you to join us and add your voice and your passion.

You can connect with us on our respective blogs:

Children of The Old School
And Starring As Herself
Mama Harris” Kitchen
Divas With A Purpose
Janeaene’s World

We encourage you to share and grow with us. If you are a fellow blogger, and have an article that speaks to this cause, I invite you to link up below and add your voice. Not a blogger? Then please join in on the conversation below or use your voice and reach by sharing this among your social media circles using the share buttons below or our hashtag #VoicesForOurSons

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Latorie S. Lloyd

Wednesday 13th of August 2014

Many of the points you discussed in your blog closely relates to me and my son, who is also going to 8th grade this year. I tried and tried to push him until I realized that his drive and passion to do great has to come from within. I strongly believe that 7th grade is like some sort of 'rites of passage' that boys (I am not sure about girls) goes through. I have often heard in the past that in 7th grade your sons turn into strangers that you never met before. Sure enough when we reached that point, I had no clue who my son was!!! I am very grateful to say that we are coming off that bumpy hill and he is balancing out very well and I am so proud of him for not getting completely dismantled while he was in that tornado (lol). AWESOME blog. Thank you for sharing your experience.


Saturday 16th of August 2014

About 10 years from now I'll have a little insight on the girl side - I've heard the tests for them come a little later around the 15-16 age-range. But, yes, comparing 7th grade to a "rites of passage" in hindsight sounds very very right. Here's to a fantastic 8th grade for both of our sons! Thank you for supporting and chiming in!

Visually Kita (@visuallyKita)

Wednesday 13th of August 2014

I am dreading those middle school days and they are coming fast. I am glad you had a talk with him many more parents need to do the same.


Saturday 16th of August 2014

My parents did more talking at me versus talking with me. That's what they knew and the era they grew up in. I had my son young and while everything I've done might not necessarily have been the right way it's worked for us. I'm very open with my kids and respect that they have opinions and can think for themselves. I'd rather them learn how to think independently in a safe zone of home so they don't go out in the world at 18 and get buck wild.


Wednesday 13th of August 2014

This was an awesome read. I will definitely be implementing this with Thomas As he heads to 7th grade. I love this series!

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