Researchers tell us that the brains of middle schoolers are growing at an explosive rate, faster than at any time since infancy. New connections are being formed, less-used pathways in the brain are being pruned away, and new experiences are imprinting deeply, in technicolor, in ways that will not be forgotten even in adulthood and old age. For this reason, 8th grade is a prime time to have a conversation with your child that covers what you as parents are and are not willing to do to help with their life after age 18.
Here are 5 things parents need to do to prepare for this pivotal 8th grade meeting.
If you need more in-depth help on this subject, just click on the link at the bottom of this post.
- Set a date and time on the calendar for this important meeting.
If possible, plan this meeting for June — shortly after 8th grade ends. This will give your child time to finish up middle school, take a much needed break, and be ready to talk about what the rest of summer (and what the next eight years) will hold.
- Choose a place to hold this meeting and make any necessary restaurant, library conference room, or hotel reservations.
If possible, plan to get away outside the house for a sibling-free meeting that will include just the former 8th grader and his or her parents.
The meeting could take place in a free conference room at a local library, during a special dinner out in a restaurant, or better yet — on an overnight or weekend retreat trip that includes a lot of time riding in a car.
Choose the location for this meeting as soon as you’ve placed the meeting date on the family calendar.
- Start talking with excitement about what you’ve got planned.
Let your child know that this event is coming up, and that it’s going to be a special “rite-of-passage” time for just him and his parents. Plan some fun and enjoyable things to be a part of the experience, and build up anticipation of it.
- In private, well ahead of time, create a list of all the topics you plan to address in this meeting.
Plan to address topics such as:
How much money you as parents are willing to pay for the child’s food, clothing, and shelter after age 18
How this child’s college is going to get paid for without him or her accumulating student loan debt
What this child can do in high school to maximize the scholarships and merit aid they will eventually get for college (this type of aid is available to your child even if you have a very high family income)
What this child will need to do and accomplish if they want to get at the money you’ve saved for their college expenses.
For an in-depth list of exactly what to cover in this important meeting, click here for my free downloadable PDF entitled “What To Do The Last Month of 8th Grade.”
- Create a “contract” for your child to sign, indicating that he or she understands all the things you’ve talked about in this special “post 8th grade” meeting.
To increase the chances that your child will succeed in college and in life, I strongly suggest that you clearly lay out eight important principles for your child during this meeting, and then have him or her sign a “contract” indicating that he or she understands them.
The important thing is to establish clear parent-child understanding of each of these points before your child enters 9th grade. This doesn’t guarantee clear, wise thinking on your child’s part, of course, but it does help lessen the likelihood that your child will go through the next eight years thinking, as do many teens and college students in our culture: “Oh, I can just sluff off in high school and not accomplish much, have my parents fork out all the cash I need to pay for college, attend random college classes for awhile but spend most of my time partying, and then quit college half way through so that I can move back into my parents’ house where I’ll live rent-free and spend my 20’s working part-time at Starbucks.”
It may take you half a day to plan this meeting and a day or a weekend to actually execute it, but doing so will put your son and daughter on an outstanding track toward succeeding brilliantly in college, graduating completely debt-free, and moving directly into careers they love afterward.
For free, clear, step-by-step help getting your kids through college debt-free and into jobs they love afterward, click on your child’s age in the “WHAT TO DO WHEN” section on this website.
If you haven’t done so yet, click here for my free downloadable PDF entitled “What To Do The Last Month of 8th Grade.” In it you’ll find a complete list of everything I recommend that you cover in this important 8th grade meeting. And if your child is older than 8th grade? It’s not too late to do this now.
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