Wednesday, February 4, 2015



Do you dread having to get your child to finish their homework? Do you know teachers feel the same frustration and understand your struggles? So what can we all do to better help support our students? Here are some helpful tips for parents and teachers to keep in mind.

- Speak to the student and see if you can figure out where the problem is (lack of understanding of a concept, too much for each class in one night)

- Choose a peer model to help support the student

- Make sure they wrote the assignment down correctly in their agenda or refer them to the website

- Lower the homework demand – send one thing home to do and build up some positive moments and then increase the demands

- Reinforce them for completing the homework! A green slip for a job well done

- Communication with parents at home and how they can support the student

- Encourage them to ask for help if needed

- Encourage them to stay after school in order to assess any issues with not understanding 

- If time allows in class have students start the homework so they can access you for help before heading home

- Support students who might be struggling with executive functioning

- Make sure the homework provides practice rather than a new concept
-       You can not make a student do homework – you can however encourage the positives of completing the work (confidence in the material, a positive reinforcer from you at home, a teacher who is not nagging them about assignments)

-       Model good work/study habits, if your student is doing homework sit with them and work on a project you have (bill paying, your own homework or work project)

-       Set up an environment conducive to doing work – quiet, less distractions

-       Establish homework time rules/guidelines – must be done before the TV/video games go on, asking for help if needed, positive reinforcement for getting it done!

-       Have a conversation with your student (not an argument) about what is frustrating for them and acknowledge their frustration, if appropriate share with the teacher as well

-       Was there a time your student did do their homework? What has changed? Is there anything you can fix?

-       Avoid the power struggle, support your student but if they are not available give them a break for a few minutes and try a different approach

-       Research shows a parents involvement can either have a positive or negative impact on the value of homework, try hard to make it a positive situation and avoid the power struggle

The most important part to remember is that we are all devoted to the same goal! We all need to avoid the power struggle with students and rather look for positive supportive ways to encourage them. Helping our students learn appropriate work/study skills that will benefit them in the future and in becoming more independent!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Is there a topic you are interested in hearing more about????

If there is a topic you would like to hear more about, or have questions around middle school and student development….


We are currently taking topic ideas for future blog posts!!!

Feel free to contact either Mr. Manfra or Mrs. Garran with any ideas or questions around future blog posts.

We can be reached at the following e-mail addresses:

Mr. Manfra

Mrs. Garran

Executive Functioning Tips for Parents



Make sure your child knows how to do the task, as opposed to it being an issue with task initiation

Provide a consistent homework routine, including a time the work needs to be completed by and a space that the work is completed in (i.e. a specific room, a specific table, etc.)

Assist your child in breaking down longer, more complex tasks into smaller, more manageable parts.  Have your child check-in with you after each part is completed

Allow choice in what tasks will be done when

Reflect with your child on what strategies/skills worked or did not work for completing a task


Assist your child with using their agenda/planner to record all assignments. (These can be checked on the teacher websites with your student)

Have your student predict how long assignments will take and then follow up with discussion about how long it actually took and why

Work with your student to prioritize their assignments by doing their most difficult subject first

Use a calendar to help your student plan out long-term assignments, breaking it down into smaller segments with interim check-ins to ensure they are being completed

Have your student, organize and pack their backpack upon completing their homework in the evening so there is no scramble in the mornings to find or remember things


Have consistent expectations about when, where and how homework is to be done

Work with your child on making a plan for completion of the evening’s assignments. It should include the order and time for each assignment

Your child may need breaks and these should be part of the schedule/plan discussed at the start of the homework time

Create a chart or reading log to track/monitor reading time to ensure it is not the “forgotten “ homework list

When your child has to read a complete book, assist them into breaking it into smaller segments and create a schedule such as “one chapter per night or so many pages per night”

Long- term assignments should be broken into smaller tasks and put on the calendar so that both you and your child remember and ensure they are completed.


Model these skills by teaching your child “ EVERYTHING HAS A HOME.”

Help your child to use their backpack effectively, including cleaning it out on a regular basis by putting items where they belong

MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD IS BRINGING HOME THEIR AGENDA BOOK/PLANNER EACH NIGHT.  Review what they have recorded and if they have not recorded, look to the teacher websites and show them how to record their assignments

Help your child set up a system for filing their papers.  DO NOT DO IT FOR THEM, DO IT WITH THEM TO TEACH THE SKILL

Some children use a two-pocket folder for homework – one pocket TO DO,  and the other DONE TO HAND IN.  Other children effectively use an accordion folder with one pocket for each of their subjects.  Others benefit from color- coding their materials for each subject, notebooks, folders, etc.

****Many students benefit from after school time with subject area teachers to work on the organization of their classroom materials.  Encourage your child to do this if you are unsure of what should be kept and how it should be organized

The following was created by Mrs. Holmes, a member of the Student Services Team at WMS.

Thursday, August 28, 2014



Okay.  Let's play a game.  I want you to sit back in your favorite chair and get into a nice and comfortable sitting position.  Now close your eyes and focus on your breathing.  Now I am going to present a word and I want you to think about all the thoughts that come to mind.  Ready for it….ok: MIDDLE SCHOOL.  As I am typing this, I am very curious as to the thoughts that have appeared in your minds.

Let's discuss the elephant in the room.  The transition from elementary school to middle school is fraught with negative thoughts, both on the part of new fifth graders as well as their parents and guardians who love them and want the best environment for them.

Comments I have often heard from families are: "…but the school is just too big", and "How will my son do all the homework", and "I want to make sure my child isn't lost in the shuffle".

Comments I have often heard from students are: "Who will I sit with at lunch", and "How will I find where my classes are", and "How will I be able to do all the work", along with concerns about lockers, how the food tastes, and feeling as if they are at the bottom of the proverbial fish bowl.

The transition from elementary school to middle school is a big stepping stone for children and their families.  It is a time in children's lives where they are learning to be more independent, learning to rely on themselves, learning to self-advocate versus waiting to be advocated for, as well as the small and insignificant experience of beginning to learn who you are as a person while at the same time going through puberty (insert sarcasm here).

I want you to re-read the concerns from 5th graders coming into middle school above.  What follows are comments I have often heard from 5th graders after a few weeks of being at the middle school: "I love how much independence we have here", "I love not having to walk with a teacher from class to class", "I thought homework was worse in 4th grade".  I decided to put these comments here to emphasize the point that while transitions and new beginnings can be scary, they can be adjusted to and overcome.

There are ways to make this transition easier and make adjusting to a new set of routines less stress inducing.  Below, please find some tips to make this transition go smoothly.


*Listen to your child - let them know they are not alone, instead of saying "it will all be ok" try just listening and acknowledging what your child is nervous about and that you (and us here at Wilson!) are here to support/help them through it.
*Encourage your child to be organized, using their agenda, keeping their binders/folders cleaned out and planning for long term projects.
*Join extra-curricular activities to get involved here at Wilson and meet some new people.
* Students have been in school a few days (but have not started their normal schedules yet), check in and see what worries/anxieties they might still have and who might have an answer to their questions (see contacts below)
*Encourage your student to ask for help from their teachers! This is a great opportunity to foster self-advocacy skills. Most teachers stay late after and are available a few days after school each week.
*Establish good routines at home - is there a time and place for homework?
*Guidance counselors!! Support your child in seeking them out if they have questions.
*Technology is a large part of middle school - between ipads and 1:1 computers by 8th grade, boundaries at home are obviously up to your discretion but remember technology is a privilege and can be monitored.
*When communicating with your child after school to avoid the frustrating "I don't know" answers try asking specific questions, "Who did you sit with at lunch?", "Who is your favorite teacher so far?"


Making this transition can be a process and the transition experience will look different from child to child.  If you have any concerns about your child's transition as they experience their first few weeks of being a middle schooler, please feel free to contact either your child's TEAM or their guidance counselor.  Below, please find a listing of the guidance counselors at Wilson Middle School by grade.

Adam Gray    
5th Grade (all Teams) and 7th Grade (Team Respect and Team Team Responsibility)

Nicole Papasso
6th Grade (Team Romans and Team Greeks) and 8th Grade (all Teams)

Maria Meisner   
6th Grade (Team Sumerians) and 7th Grade (Team Accountability)