Life Skills

Leveling Up Their Study Skills

Your child probably spent some time in elementary school working on skills like time management, staying on top of their assignments, and organizing themselves at home and school. But now they have to do a lot more on their own, so they’ll be building on those skills and extending them.

Here are some study skills you can expect your middle schooler to develop during these years:


Organizing their school work. They’ll need a system for organizing different subjects that works for them, and it might take some experimenting to figure it out. (For example, some students might prefer to use a physical planner, while others might like to keep track of assignments using an app or online tool.) Whatever their system is, by middle school, they should be managing their assignments independently and getting their work completed on time. If they are not doing that consistently, it’s time to seek some support so they can build those skills.


Using technology to be a strong student. They’ll need to be able to access their school’s software platforms independently, so they can keep track of assignments, check grades, and access other information online. They’ll start regularly using the internet for research and schoolwork (more on that below). And if they don’t carry a phone (or aren’t allowed to look at it in school), they should wear a watch to help keep track of time during the school day.


Taking notes. Most elementary schoolers don’t spend much time taking notes in class, so note-taking is an important skill to build in middle school. Some schools will introduce templates for note-taking, or you can check out these note-taking models with your kid. ( also offers ideas for supporting students with learning disabilities to take notes effectively.) Also, if their school uses laptops or tablets, they might need to type their notes. Most schools don’t teach touch-typing, but it’s a great skill to have, so your kid might want to practice on some of these free games if they aren’t already speedy on the keyboard.


Managing longer-term projects. In elementary school, your child might have gotten some experience working on large-scale assignments over several weeks, but it’s likely they’ll be asked to do a lot more of this in middle school. They’ll need to craft a plan for how they’ll get each component of the project done—so they aren’t stuck with the whole thing to do the night before. And they’ll need a system for staying on top of their progress as they go along, ideally without you hounding them about it). If it’s a group project, they’ll have to factor in their teammates’ schedules, too.

Students with learning and thinking differences may find these types of study skills more challenging. Understood offers this list of 11 apps that might help.

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