TYLER, TX (KLTV) - We can all remember the stress, the bullying and the hormones.
Bill Martin at Sylvan Learning Center, and middle school teacher, Tamara Bowers, say hands down, 6th-8th grades are the most challenging years. But, it's also the most crucial time in a child's development.
"You can still mold," said Bowers. "You still have a chance to make a difference in their life. Sometimes when you're at the high school you feel like they're already formed."
But, why are so many middle schools under-scoring on academics? Educators say the number one factor is lack of parental involvement.
"When they get to be middle school, somehow the parents seem to lose connection," said Bowers. "Parents may think it's because they're getting older, 'I don't need to be there for them.' But, they still need you just as much."
"Letting the teacher know the family, meeting regularly with the teacher, asking the teacher what can [you] do at home," suggested Martin.
He says to make sure kids have a quiet study area at home and check over their homework. Studies have also shown that students excel academically when they're involved in the arts or have some outside interests.
"Be positive [and] encourage your child," said Martin.
"You just have to capture their interests somehow," said Bowers. "Whether it's knowing they go to dance every day or they love to play football."
Bowers says she'll play off those individual interests in the classroom.
"They don't even know they're learning and that's what's fun," said Bowers. "When they have that 'ah-ha' moment and they go, 'I get it. I get it now.'"
Personal involvement is the key. Bowers says it's easy to drop your child's teacher an email to stay in touch. Also, many school districts have everything online - even your child's grades - so you can keep track of them from your computer.