Question for Middle School Parents

Updated on July 28, 2008
A.A. asks from McKinney, TX
11 answers

I heard that in middle school kids do not take lunch boxes, they buy or take lunch in a brown bag, is this correct? Also, what types of backpacks do they carry. Do they carry all the books from class to class or do they leave most in the lockers? I have a girl going to middle school in the fall. Thanks.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the great advice. She is excited...i am nervous. I guess that is just normal.

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answers from Dallas on

I have taught 7th grade for the last 2 years and I second everything the last poster said. Good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

Hi A.,
Well, I'm not a middle school parent, but I am a middle school teacher, so I promise I know what I'm talking about. I don't want to say that being "cool" or "popular" are in any way neccessities, but it's so important for kids to feel "normal" in middle school. The following information won't automatically make your child "cool," but it should ensure that she's not an instantaneous outcast. Here are my observations:

LUNCHES - absolutely, positively no lunchboxes. Even if your child thinks she wants one, she will very quickly realize that it's a social no-no. Brown bag lunches are good...but don't write her name on it and don't write a "Have a good day! Love, Mommy" note on a napkin. In fact, don't even include a napkin. If they prefer buying lunch, let them do it. It's not expensive and it's a balanced meal, so why not? However, depending on your child's social circle, it may be uncool for her to buy cafeteria lunches, so she might instead purchase pizza or snack food (not the world's healthiest meal). She'll know what she wants to do within a few days of being at school.

BACKPACKS - Most middle schools don't allow kids to carry backpacks to their classes anymore. The backpacks have to stay in their lockers. This is for safety purposes (not just for weapon/drug issues, but also because it's a fire hazard to have backpacks blocking the walkways between desks). Simple Jansport-type backpacks in solid colors are fine...I wouldn't recommend bright colors or prints, at the risk of looking too babyish (or worse, "mommy-picked"). Some schools require mesh or clear plastic backpacks. If they give the either/or option, GO WITH MESH. The clear plastic ones are ridiculous, and they fall apart. Kids who carry them are WALKING TARGETS for bullying and teasing.

BOOKS AND LOCKERS - As far as carrying books and materials, she can stop at her locker every period or just 3-4 times a day. Make sure she figures that out BEFORE the first day. Most middle schools have a night before school starts where the kids come and meet their teachers, find their locker, etc. Walk through the daily schedule with her and have her decide when are good times to go to her locker.

CLOTHING - do not, I repeat, DO NOT convince your child to wear anything that you think is "cute." As a parent, you are officially uncool, and anything you think is cute is likely to be laughed at (it doesn't matter how hip and cool you actually are!). Also, once they get into middle school, kids no longer dress up for the first day of school. Jeans and a simple top will suffice. I agree with one of the moms who said to wait to buy all the school clothes until a few weeks in. By then, she'll know what she wants. Until then, get her a few pairs of jeans (standard uniform for middle school kids) and let her pick some shirts to wear (nothing sleeveless, as that's usually against the dress code, and she will be completely embarassed if she gets in trouble and has to wear a stinky school sweatshirt).

MAKEUP - If she doesn't already, she may want to wear makeup, and I assure you that most junior high girls do. But not a lot! Get her some mascara, lip gloss, and maybe some powder. This way she'll feel a little more mature, and not so much like a kid around all the 7th and 8th graders.

CELL PHONES, VISITING, ETC. - Most students have cell phones, and most carry them to school. They MUST be on silent, or they will be taken up (and you get to pay to get it back!). I would not recommend that you let her call you from school very often. She needs to establish her independence. Obviously, if there is a lockdown, fire, etc., that's a reasonable time for her to text you, but unless she's going through something really traumatic (which could be anything at that age), she shouldn't be calling you. Plus, she could get in trouble for doing that. If you want her to stop using her phone in school, you could always call the school office and tell them that your child is texting you from class. I had a parent do that last year...hilarious! She never used her phone at school again! Cell phones are not allowed because the kids could be sending test answers to friends, etc. Also, a lot of bullying (especially between girls) takes place through texting, so the school doesn't want to be held responsible for a child being bullied through text at school. One thing that's really important is that you find some way of monitoring her phone use at night. Kids don't have to be talking on the phone to be on the phone. I can't tell you how many of my kids have said they got no sleep because so-and-so wouldn't stop texting them at 3:00 in the morning. Kids don't have the sense to turn off the cell phone. It's up to you to decide how to deal with this, but sleep deprivation is a HUGE issue in middle school. As for visiting her at school, DO NOT come to visit her at school or at lunch for any reason unless she specifically asks you to. If you bake cupcakes or cookies for her birthday, deliver them to the front office. Don't bring them to the cafeteria yourself.

DEALING WITH GRADES AND TEACHERS - Please allow your child to make mistakes. It happens, and the beauty is that grades in middle school don't go on your high school transcript. If your child brings home a failing progress report, they will immediately blame the teacher, saying "He doesn't like me" and things like that. 99% of the time, the teacher has done everything they can. There is always the 1% who really are terrible teachers, and you will learn who they are quickly. Always take the teacher's side unless it's become clear that the teacher is not working with your child. If your child sees that you and the teacher are working together instead of against each other, she will suck it up and do the work because she knows has no excuse that you will fall for. Also, it's still okay to give gifts to teachers at this age, but only if your child wants to (meaning she doesn't have to give one to every teacher).

I know how scary it is to have a child going into middle school. As one parent said, it really is the point at which kids decide who they are or who they're going to be, and it can go either way depending on who they're friends with. There's only so much you can do to control that. Remember that even though you can't control what happens at school, YOU CAN CONTROL WHAT HAPPENS AT HOME! Just be there for your child, monitor who she's hanging out with, and know where she is at all times. AND (this is a tough one) don't be afraid to discipline consistently. Make sure you follow through even if she acts like she hates you. All middle school kids say they hate their parents regularly. They don't. They just say it because they know it hurts you and they know they'll eventually get their way. Don't fall for it!

Good luck to you and all the other middle school mommies to be!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It depends on when my daughter(s) had lunch whether they brown bagged or bought at school..if their classes were close to cafeteria, they bought, if they were far from it, they brown bagged it. (no lunch boxes) Have your daughter look around first couple of days..she will see what types of things are neat (some schools have microwaves and lean pockets etc are a fun choice)

Back packs -we usually got at Ross, durable in solid colors. We had lockers at our MS, but both our girls needed locker organizers (Sold at Walmart) so everything didn't end up at bottom of locker! I also just got back from a seminar and brought my soon to be 8th grade daughter a bag within in a bag that was about size of your fist, that when you opened was a durable bag to clean out her locker each Friday, and then take back in smaller form on Monday!

Also, my oldest daughter was very small in stature when she began MS, still wore girl's size clothes, and we made a pretty huge investment in what I thought were "Cute clothes" only to find that her clothes totally made her stand out. Even now, we buy clothes for first week of school-capris, jeans, and see what the trends are, and then go shopping for other items the w/e falling first week of school. This teaches them to look around for current fashion on shoes, jeans, etc but to be able to stand on own two feet too!

Good luck and be there when she gets home each day , by phone or in person because they need to unload at that age and will have forgotten what rocked their world , if not de-briefed and it will be there for them the next day!
L. B



answers from Tyler on

Taking a lunch box in middle school is a huge no-no. Buying lunch or taking a brown paper bag is the 'in' thing. This is the age when kids are actually executing becoming independent and fitting in. A lunch box says mommy is still making the calls! (Course, we are - but...) As far as backpacks go - that's a decision I left up to my kids. MOST kids will leave the unneeded books in their lockers (carry morning books and at lunch, switch to afternoon books). Be sure and check the school policy on types of backpacks/bookbagss the kids are allowed and what is not. But, beyond that - let your daughter choose what she wants (within your price bounds).


answers from Tyler on

My dgtr brown bags it every day and like another parent responded, everything is disposable for her convenience. Not exactly enviromentally the best, but it works for her. Through middle school she has carried messenger bag style book bags and a traditional backpack, the traditional backpacks are easier to carry.

At her school, the big trend last year were the Jon Hart back packs, they are pricey, but really durable. Some of the girls wised up and started "going in together" for bdays so their friends would be able to get the more expensive bags. They are sold at Spinout in Tyler, I'm sure they are available at boutiques in Dallas.

As for books, our MS has lockers for books. Your kiddo will figure out her schedule and she'll know what books she needs to grab and bring with her each time she gets to her locker.

Most of all, don't over worry about the middle school experience. Although we as parents may reflect on that time of our lives as a nightmare, we made it through. Kids go through so many changes physically, emotionally, socially, this time in their lives. Just hug your kiddo and continue to tell them you love them no matter what, and hold on tight!

Best of luck!



answers from Dallas on

My son goes to Fossil Hill and he took a lunch box sometimes when he took lunch. They tend to like to buy lunch b/c they have several types of lunch lines. My son just took a regular back pack. They have time to go to the lockers in between classesif they use their time wisely. Some classes don't allow them to bring their backpacks to class.



answers from Lubbock on

I don't have middle school age children yet, but I teach at the middle level. It's really just whatever they want to do. I see a lot of traditional backpacks, but some of them just carry binders. I never see lunch boxes...



answers from Dallas on

My son's middle school does not have lockers and does not allow backpacks. It's strange - they give all of the kids a set of books to take home at the beginning of the year and keep at home so they aren't carrying heavy books each day. They can only take a zipper binder to school each day which has sections for each subject. He buys lunch each day - they have a good variety of food and he is not a picky eater.

He has lots of homework it seems and that is the biggest challenge for him. I really wish schools would give less homework and let kids enjoy the few hours each night that they have with their parents. People complain that parents do not spend enough quality time with their kids and I think homework helps contribute to that problem...just my opinion. We try to plan fun stuff to do as a family and have to cancel our plans due to homework all too often.

Middle school has been tough for my son because he is one of the smallest and youngest kids in his grade. He gets picked on some - kids are really cruel sometimes and that is a challenge.

Good Luck!




answers from Dallas on

My daughter would DIE if she had to take a lunchbox to school. :) She carries a regular Jensport backpack. At her school they had specific times they could go to their lockers, so she had to take 2 or 3 periods at a time. I agree with the other mom about cell phones, most of the teachers know they have them & are pretty relaxed about it, although I have had to sign hers out at the end of the day before. I still would rather her have it though.


answers from Dallas on

My daughter will be going to 8th grade at Hendrick. She does not purchase anything in the cafeteria except for water or a juice drink. She is a bit of a health nut.

As for her lunches, lunch time is VERY limited. She takes a brown bag (all but drink) so she can throw everything away and not have to keep up with more stuff. Once or twice a week, I take lunch to her and she meets me in the office to pick it up. She does not care for the cafeteria food. "Too greasy" "not healthy". Another point is that the lunch line gets long and sometimes by the time you get your food, it is time to leave.

She does not carry a backpack. She has a tote from Abercrombie. It gets heavy. The backpacks/totes are not allowed in the areas outside the lockers. She creates the schedule best for her to go to her locker to get what she needs. She carries the items she needs to classes. Usually 2, sometimes 3 classes at a time. She does carry her purse with her at all times which has her cell phone (on silent).

She has texted me more than once for a real fire drill and real lockdown. I want her to have access to her cell phone. This is a rule I know we "break" but she has access to us if she needs us at all times. Most teachers know that most of the students have cell phones and they are reasonable about it. If she abuses the phone and uses it in class, it will be removed and taken to the office where I have to sign it out at the end of the day. Yes, I have done that.

She talks to me most when she is in the locker room from PE or in the bathroom. Yes, they dress out and have PE. 8th grade has PE the full year and 6-7 only have it 1 semester. (Plano ISD, I don't know about all ISD's)

Hendrick is going through some major renovations this year and she will be in portables most of her 8th grade year. More important reason for the cell phone.

Going to middle school is stressful and scary but the children adjust well and will establish the routine best for them. Most schools are open before school starts in August so you can walk your schedule, practice with locker combo and get a feel for the area.

I was told that middle school was a turning point in a girl's life as to if she thrives or sets back. I was scared for my daughter, as a mom is and will be. I will say that my daughter has enjoyed middle school much more than elementary school and she has made some great friends.

Best wishes for your daughter (and you too Mom!)



answers from Amarillo on

I would say just let her take what she wants, what she is comfortable with carrying. My kids all have lockers at school starting in the 3rd grade, so they don't have to carry all their books from class to class, they each pick their own backpack/bag, and have had both. As far as lunch goes, I don't know very many kids that carry a "lunchbox" per say, but mine all have some really cool insulated bags that we got at walmart for $5 each, they have print on them like skateboards, pink punk stuff and things like that, and it looks "cool" to them.

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