Middle School Talk
Real student tips on what 6th graders should know to rule the school.
Drew and Harrison are heading into 8th grade. Friends for more than half their lives, the 13-year-olds attend different middle schools in the same tristate-area town. Though middle school can be a minefield, both boys have thrived, consistently making new friends, making the honor roll and (gasp!) genuinely enjoying school.
As a special assignment from MetroKids, Drew (whose favorite subject is science) and Harrison (who likes history) took a break from a hotly contested Xbox game of Madden ’13 to chat about major middle school topics and give their best advice to incoming 6th graders.
Nice and mean teachers
Drew: When I started middle school, I wondered if the teachers were going to be nice or not. It took maybe the first week to figure it out. Some of them talked really loud and said they were going to give lots of homework. One that I was scared of turned out to be OK once I got to know her.
Harrison: I had one teacher who was kind of weird, but I didn’t care because I liked the subject. So I just did my work quietly and it was OK.
Middle school bullies
Harrison: Just ignore them. If you give them something to work on they’ll bully you even harder. They do it to get a rise out of you. You shouldn’t listen. Talk to your friends instead.
Middle school lockers
Harrison: Lockers are fun. The teachers give you practice opening it the first day of school and make you keep your combination in your agenda book.
Drew: As long as you know your combo, lockers are very easy. Same thing with your gym locker, just bring gym clothes.
Harrison: And deodorant. But don’t use too much or you’ll smell like Axe or Old Spice all day.
Middle school dating
Drew: People do start dating in middle school . . .
Harrison: But it’s OK if you’re not ready yet. If someone starts talking about who’s dating who and you don’t want to know, bring up something else. It’s no big deal.
Middle school clubs & teams
Harrison: I’m in band and jazz band [playing trumpet and electric guitar]. I’m also on the wrestling team. Doing so much stuff makes me feel busy and more a part of the school.
Drew: I’m a black belt and on my karate demo team, so I don’t have time to do anything for school. I wish I had tried out for a sport in 6th grade and stuck with it, though.
Harrison: It can be hard to make a team as a 6th grader, so look for a sport that takes lots of kids. The wrestling team usually takes everyone, and once I was on it I just worked hard to do well.
Middle school tests & homework
Harrison: Ugh! [laughs]
Drew: If you have a nice teacher who helps you study in class, you can keep the studying to a minimum later. If they give a lot of homework, you’re going to need to spend more time studying at home.
Harrison: The workload hasn’t been harder than elementary school. If you have a study hall, do your homework then or before your clubs or sports start.
Drew: If teachers give chances for extra credit, take it and try as best as you can.
Making friends in middle school
Harrison: Just go up and talk to someone. Everyone’s nervous at first, so you shouldn’t worry.
Drew: If you’re a boy, talk about sports. If you’re a girl, talk about . . . boys. [laughs]
The middle school cafeteria
Drew: Bring lunch, absolutely bring lunch.
Harrison: I like buying lunch, especially pizza.
Drugs & alcohol in middle school
Drew: If someone tries to sell you drugs, just say no and walk away to tell a teacher. If you’re tempted to do it, say no that one time and find a teacher to tell them you’re tempted and they’ll help you.
What’s good about middle school
Harrison: It makes you feel older and gives you more freedom. You don’t have to walk in a line like you did in elementary school and can talk as much as you want in the halls between classes.
Drew: Just as long as you’re not being too loud!