These can be challenging times for you and your child, but they can be amazing and wonderful. Keep some of these tips in mind and you may avoid the occasional issue.
- make sure that they have enough food and sleep
My husband is convinced that all nasty teen behavior stems from them either being tired or low blood sugar. Teens are chronically sleep deprived - do what you can. It is tremendously important. Give them a good protein snack as soon as they get home. If they are rested and fed, they will have the resources to attempt to tolerate you.
- under-book them
Cancel some afterschool activities for Sept. so that they can just come home and chill out, get used to homework and collect themselves. If they have all their same activities it may just be too much. You can always start stuff up again in Oct. and it gives them some room in their schedules to try some new middle school stuff.
- keep the computer in sight
It is likely that all your biggest fights will be over time management and the computer. If they are out of sight in their bedroom with the door closed you can't help them monitor their time management. Learning to be responsible with your time on the computer is extremely hard to do (you know what it is like to lose 3 hours at email or Facebook without even feeling it!) They won't just get it, you need to set limits and back them up. They will thank you when they are 30.
- they can't possibly like their school at first
You have done all this searching and agonizing and now I know that you really want them to LOVE their school. Is is virtually impossible for them to love it. Think about it; they are with the big scary 8th graders, they have to change classes all over a strange new building, the teachers are laying down the law to get the upper hand in the first week, even their old friends are changing (bodies, voices, attitudes). Expect them to kind of hate it, but don't worry, it won't last.
- make some playdates with their old friends
They will make great new friends, but they will want to be their new more grownup selves with those friends. They often have a great nostalgia for their "childhood". If they have a playdate with their "old" friends they can play Lego, dress up without the fear of appearing uncool to their new crowd. It will be a great relief.
- read aloud at night
They may snap your head off and give you one word answers in the cold light of day, but when they are snuggled in bed and you are reading to them like you did when they were little, they become your sweet darlings again. First off, the books are better now, but when the lights are low, they will end up asking you the big questions, laughing and crying and telling you their secrets. Do this for as long as possible - you may never lose touch.
When you go to Staples to get the composition notebooks, folders and spiral notebooks - color coordinate. Red folder, red composition, red spiral for math, ect. That way when you have a hundred books and folders spread all over the floor, your child can see what needs to go in the backpack for the next morning. Teach them how to back up their docs on the computer and name their files. They don't know how to do this, and it is the simplest thing that will keep you from HOURS of agony. Always, always, always have an extra ink cartridge for the printer. If you don't, you will hear my voice saying, "I told you so" at midnight on the night before the big assignment is due.