Middle School Survival Guide

( 44 )


The only survival guide a middle school kid will ever need.

It can be the best of times. It can be the worst of times, too. Middle school happens at that tumultuous time in life when one’s not a teenager and not a little kid. Middle school means being a middle-aged kid. Expectations—from teachers, parents, friends, siblings—can all change dramatically, causing worry and concern even for the most laid-back student.

The Middle School Survival ...

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The Middle School Survival Guide: How to Survive from the Day Elementary School Ends until the Second High School Begins

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The only survival guide a middle school kid will ever need.

It can be the best of times. It can be the worst of times, too. Middle school happens at that tumultuous time in life when one’s not a teenager and not a little kid. Middle school means being a middle-aged kid. Expectations—from teachers, parents, friends, siblings—can all change dramatically, causing worry and concern even for the most laid-back student.

The Middle School Survival Guide covers every issue, inside school and out, from the most trivial concerns to the most serious issues that middle school students face today. Arlene Erlbach has assembled a teen advisory board of 200 kids between fifth and tenth grade who give advice about topics from cracking a locker combination, to dealing with multiple teachers, to sex and dating.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Middle School Survival Guide by Arlene Erlbach, illus. by Helen Flook, offers advice on everyday challenges that 10- to 14-year-olds face in school and at home, from difficult teachers and too much homework to changing friendships, sibling wars and the onslaught of puberty. Sensitive discussions touch on such topics as pregnancy and violence, and in each section kids also offer advice on common problems. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Erlback examines what it is like for a student to enter and survive the middle school experience. Chapters such as "A New School," "The Opposite Sex," "Home Life," "Puberty," and "Being Yourself" cover much of what an incoming middle school student will encounter. The text is peppered with cartoon drawings and quotes from real teens. An effective index allows readers to browse topically, and the text itself lends to browsing. The chapter on the opposite sex is exactly that: Relationships between boys and girls are discussed with little room for the possibility of GLBT relationships. Same-sex relationships are only afforded a two-line section of the chapter, alluding to admiration rather than the possibility of something more. Also in this chapter are two small sections dedicated to intercourse and oral sex. The chapter on puberty discusses topics ranging from pimples and periods to wet dreams. These topics might indeed be a part of middle school students' lives, however, the cover, cataloging (373.18), and overall tone of the book do not belie content of this nature. This book seems to have an identity crisis. Is it a puberty/health book, or a school survival guide? The tone of the book is "be yourself," which is a positive message to pass on to middle schoolers, but a title such as Middle School: The Real Deal by Julianna Farrell and Beth Mayall (HarperTrophy, 2001/VOYA August 2001) does it in a more effective and age-appropriate manner. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2003, Walker, 160p.; Index. Illus., and Trade pb. Ages 11 to 14.
—Stacy Dillon
Children's Literature
This neat little book ought to be recommended reading for every student entering 6th grade. In a humorous but truthful style, the author discusses everything you are about to encounter as you enter the preteen phase of life. From issues as ordinary as ways to remember your locker combination to teachers, academics, peers, the opposite sex, home life, puberty, some serious stuff about being yourself and everything in between, the book makes this transition in life a little easier for everyone. Black-and-white cartoon-like drawings and comments on every phase of middle school life from real students make this survival guide an entertaining and informative asset. Great for sharing with parents of middle-schoolers, too. 2003, Walker Publishing, Ages 10 to 14.
— Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Sound advice for dealing with the difficult transitions this audience faces is dispensed in a straightforward and explicit voice. Topics range from academics to sexual abuse and include quotes from students who have been there and survived. Cartoon illustrations appear throughout. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Here's a manual for middle-aged kids-those children no longer little kids, but not yet teenagers. They're in grades five through eight, depending on how the school defines its middle school, and they face a variety of special problems: group showers, cliques, extracurricular activities, puberty, a new interest in the opposite sex, drugs, and peer pressure. Somehow in all of this, students are expected to be part of things while staying true to themselves. This manual is here to help. Though a bit cutesy, with its "dorky" and "awesome" and advice to people who would "rather eat worms than shower," the honest, direct tone of the guide will appeal to middle-school students. Humorous, cartoon-like illustrations and italicized words of advice from fellow students keep the tone light even as the subject matter gets serious, with discussions of sexual intercourse, oral sex, drugs, and peer pressure. Leave this lying around; curious preteens will pick it up and, perhaps, find information they need. (Nonfiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802776570
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 8/1/2003
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 162,332
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.24 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Middle School Survival Guide

By Arlene Erlbach

Walker & Company

Copyright © 2003 Arlene Erlbach
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0802776574

Chapter One

Nobody asked me if I wanted to change schools.

To many kids, middle school means a new building can be incredibly awesome, totally annoying, or just plain scary.

If your family has moved around regularly, maybe you're already used to the challenge of navigating your way around a new school, checking out people to eat lunch with, and figuring out what makes teachers tick. But to most kids, tackling the new-school scenario can be a major-league pain.

In this chapter you'll discover how to work out problems that could happen simply because you're at an unfamiliar location.

School isn't only a place where you learn. It contains hundreds of bodies vying for popularity, a place on the team, and decent grades. Nobody wants to look too obvious about what his or her agenda includes. That's why it can become stress city.


Last year you could walk through the school blindfolded. You knew where everything was, from the janitor's office to the teachers' lounge. (In case you're wondering what really goes on there, the faculty hides in the lounge to eat lunch, de-stress, and gossip about students-just like you gossip about them.)

Your new school seems so humongous, with all its wings and floors; you wonder if you'll ever find out where you're going. You have nightmares about winding up in math class when you're supposed to be in social studies. You're terrified that you won't be able to find the bathroom when you need it fast!

The best way to deal with this is to call the school over the summer and ask for a tour to check things out. If you feel weird about doing this, have one of your folks make the arrangements. Maybe you and a few buddies can go together. If one of you has an older sibling or friend who has gone to this place, bribe them to come along. They will be useful in letting you in on important information, such as which teachers are cool, which ones secretly hate kids, and if the mystery meat casserole in the cafeteria really contains warmed-up cat food.

My brother let me shadow him one day when I was in sixth grade at his junior high. I didn't remember everything, but I felt a little better about going to the new school. And he and his friends told me who all the nice and rotten teachers were.-Arnold, age 12

After you find out the school's setup, do the following:

* Write down how the rooms are numbered. Numbering systems for classrooms are not always logical. Nobody has yet figured out if this is part of some deliberate scheme to make things difficult.

* Make sure you know important locations like the bathrooms, the cafeteria, and the gym.

* If you go to a school that sends out schedules in advance, go over them well. If possible, visit the school before it opens to make a dry run before that big first day.

If you following these suggestions, you'll feel a lot better about the first few days of school.


Maybe you'll be exceptionally lucky. The friends you chowed down with in elementary school, or at least one of them, will have lunch the same period as you do, so you won't be chewing on your tuna sandwich and cheese curls alone. Or maybe everyone you know has lunch at another time or in a separate lunchroom. You imagine yourself eating alone for the entire year while everyone else is munching lunch with their best buddies and talking about what a dork you are. Here are some strategies to avoid lunchtime alone in Rejectland:

* If you know beforehand that you'll have no friends from your old school to eat lunch with, recruit lunch buddies ASAP. Think about kids you know from places like Scouts, the pool, camp, or your place of worship. Get on the phone and say hello.

* Case out the cafeteria during lunch. You may see somebody or several familiar warm bodies, sitting at a table with an empty seat. These could be kids from your old school or from your soccer team, church, synagogue, or the camp you attend. It's hard, and this takes guts, but just ask if you can sit with them.-Gina, age 13


If you don't find somebody you know to eat with, here are a few more extreme methods for finding lunch buddies. Two of these approaches take guts, and a deep breath, but they will more than likely work:

* Search the cafeteria for a table with empty seats where kids appear to be friendly, and on your coolness level. Introduce yourself. Ask if you can sit down. Unless these people are total jerks (and you don't need jerks for friends), they'll allow you to sit there and may become your regular lunch crowd.-Meghan, age 14

* Sit down alone with homework, or an exciting and popular magazine or book. Pretend you're above the noontime scene, even though you aren't. -Annie, age 16

Eating alone once in a while isn't the end of the world. You might decide to do lunch solo one day, and a person you don't know might plop themselves down at your table and become a friend.


Some of us are great at learning anything having to do with numbers. Just give one of these people a series of numerals to remember, and she'll run them off as though she has a computer in her head. Most people's minds don't operate like that, so locker combinations are hard to remember-at first. Here's how to remember yours:

* Write it down. Put it on a little card. Repeat it over and over again until you remember it.

* Type the numbers on your computer-print it out, but don't put your name on it.
That way nobody will know whose it is if you lose it.-Jason, age 12

* Stick it in your purse, bookbag, or wallet, where it won't get lost. Remember not to include your name, locker number, or doodling that can be identified as yours. After you dial the numbers for a week or so, they'll become second nature, like your best buddy's phone number. Just in case you have one of those days when you'd forget your head if it weren't attached, leave the number in your wallet at all times.

Make sure you have a copy of the locker combination in a safe place at home.
That way you'll have a copy of it if it falls out of your wallet. If you ever do think
somebody may have gotten hold of it, talk to your school office ASAP and get the
combination changed. In some cases you may need to purchase a new lock.


If you're the first in your family to attend your school, the principal, teachers, and rest of the staff probably won't have any preconceived notion about you, unless you show up with an earring in your nose, blue hair, and jeans full of holes. But if you had a brother or sister who teachers remember fondly, or who the faculty couldn't stomach, some of the staff may expect you to behave just like the genius, or troublemaker, who came before you. What follows is a sampling of typical sibling impressions, how they might affect your teachers' expectations of you, and what to do to combat them.

The Einstein Clone

The first day, you might be greeted with, "I just loved having Ashley [or Albert] in my class." Any teacher would. An A- was a low grade for this sibling. You know that this won't happen with you unless you have a complete brain restructuring. Your talents lie elsewhere. That's cool.

Not everybody has the brain cells, discipline, or motivation to be an incredible student. Most kids and adults are really good at one or a few things, and average or not so terrific at others. It's true that a few kids exist who excel at everything. They get As in all their academic subjects, and in art, music, and gym, too. They'd probably ace lunch if teachers graded it? If your brother or sister blew the grading curve off the school's tests, and you won't be repeating the performance, here's what to do:

* Everyone knows who my brother is because he's a real brain. So I was afraid to
start a new school because he's, like, so smart. But the teachers never said anything
to me except "I enjoyed having your brother." I do my work and get Cs and
Bs, and nobody says anything to me about not being as smart.-Edgar, age 12

* If a teacher repeatedly compares you to a past sibling, explain that the two of you are separate entities, and that's how you'd like to be treated. Unless, of course, you don't mind being compared to your sibling.

* Do your best. Even if you can't manage A or B work, turn in everything on time and nearly. Don't do annoying things like talking or passing notes in class. Your teachers will realize you aren't a carbon copy of your sibling, but they will appreciate that you're a nice kid.

* Join clubs or participate in extracurricular activities that will show off your talents and skills.

* Assess your strong points. Maybe you're very creative or a great friend. These traits are very important. Not everyone who was a stellar student has tremendous success in adulthood. And that's the absolute truth!

The Super Jock

If you have a sibling who was a sports star, this will definitely be remembered, too. That's great if you're sure you'll follow in his or her footsteps. But if balls and baskets make you barf, you may feel high-end humiliation when the phys ed teacher walks up to you and says things like, "I can't wait for you to try out for the team," or "See you at cheerleading auditions." You'll probably feel like crawling into the nearest hole and remaining there until middle school ends.

It's true that star athletes gain lots of respect, especially if they excel in football or basketball, or do cartwheels well enough to cheer the team on. But other people with talents rule, too. Develop your skills and explore your interests. The more you accept your own good points and appreciate them, the more other people will as well.

My cousin is the cheerleading captain. So my cousin, aunt, mother,
and teachers though I'd try out. I really didn't want to. My mother kept
telling me how cute I'd look in the uniform. Well, I did try out and didn't
get in because I'm not good at cheerleading stuff. I joined the choir and
newspaper.-Jessica, age 14

The Troublemaker

Maybe your brother was a classic juvenile delinquent. He earned detentions regularly for major infractions like smoking in the bathroom, disrupting classes, or starting food fights in the cafeteria. You know that when he went up to the next grade (or maybe he didn't, or he got expelled), the teachers celebrated. You may be an unpleasant reminder. Some teachers might shudder when they find out you're in their class, cringing and complaining, "Another monster from that family has landed." This might be part of the gossip in the teachers' lounge. But you're not like that at all. Sometimes you ask yourself if you or your brother might have been switched at birth. Here's how to knock your teachers' socks off and surprise the school staff:

* Always do what your teachers expect-and maybe a little more, too.

* Be on your best behavior, no matter what!

* Avoid friends who do things that earn detentions or suspensions.

* Participate in an extracurricular activity in which you're helping people, or one that troublemakers steer clear of.

Soon you'll be treated as an individual member of your family, not the clone of the evil sibling that previously darkened the school's hallways. Your teachers may also wonder if there was a mix-up in the hospital.

I have a sister who had a horrible reputation for cutting school, and she got suspended for smoking. I just acted like I always do-kind of quiet-and the teachers treated me like an okay kid.-Allen, age 13


Last year you and the kids in your class were considered hot stuff. Your class ruled. Most of the younger kids thought you were pretty awesome and respected you. Now you're in middle school. Your class doesn't run the school anymore.

Life goes in cycles. Sometimes you and your friends are on top. Then because of circumstances beyond your control, another group takes over. Within a few months you'll get used to being a lowly fifth-, sixth-, or seventh-grader. Next year, or a few years from now, you'll be at the top end of the school again. Then right after you get your turn at the top again, you'll start high school, where the cycle repeats itself. The same thing happens after high school-when you go to college, vocational school, or take a job.

You'll find yourself starting at a new place where some people have been there longer and seem to know everything. That's okay. Soon you'll know as much as they do.

I felt kind of weird about not being the top group that had lots of attention and privileges when I started junior high. But I got used to it. The older kids were cool, and I made friends with two guys that were in seventh grade in the class ahead because we took orchestra together. They needed a bass player for their band and asked me to be in a special quartet. We're good friends.-Matt, age 13

Chapter Two

Are they really out to get me?

The good news about middle school is that aren't stuck with one you teacher all day. When you were in elementary school, you usually had one teacher for everything except special subjects like phys ed and art, or maybe for science or math. If you liked your teacher, school seemed like a tolerable place to spend six hours. If you hated your teacher, you couldn't wait until the last bell rang.

The bad news is that now you have lots of adult personalities to deal with. But that doesn't have to be an ordeal. In this chapter you'll discover how teachers tick.


For forty minutes or so every day you have a class that you wish were canceled forever. You cringe when the starting bell rings. You'll be glad when the school year is over so you won't have to spend another minute in that academic Dreadland again. Here are some tips to make an unpleasant class period more bearable:

* Think about what bothers you the most about the class-the teacher, the subject matter, or all of it combined.

* If the teacher seems not to like you, ask yourself some of these questions: Do I turn in sloppy work or forget homework? Do I saunter in after the bell or chat with friends during class? If any of these scenarios is the case, make this type of behavior history.


Excerpted from The Middle School Survival Guide by Arlene Erlbach Copyright © 2003 by Arlene Erlbach.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 44 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011


    This book it great :) I am a health teacher and its great to have my girls read this book. When I see them they are laughing about.. I read this book two times.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2013

    Im scared

    Im starting middle school this august and i dont know what to expect.if any of you are a girl have been to middle school can you give some advice.thanks

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012

    Love it ishy

    Really good but im in middle school and i go to many parties and dances and nobody ever wanted or did "more than just kissing".I think we tweens and teens know better than that.Just saying so dont hate on me if you do think this book is perfect,kay bye!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012


    Omg! This is awesome especially if ur a pre teen going into middle school!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2012

    Is dis book good

    I want to get dis book but is it worth da cost

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Good recomended

    Pretty good!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    Middle school

    Hey guys i am a 7th grader and 6th grade and middle school is a piece of cake u just need to pay attention and do your work everyday and you'll be perfectly fine


    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 3, 2011

    Must read if ur a pre teen

    This is a great book but did u notice that on page 36 theres a typo and it sats somethin like f ask your parrents...

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2006

    Arlene Erlbach's Middle School Guide

    this book, I think, that it is not appropriate for young middle school students. it should be aimed towards high school students still lacking speciic knowledge.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2014

    Help me plz advice maybe

    Me and this boy ive liked 4ever started dating near the end of 5th grade and im not sure if we will still be togethr in middle school and we have no way of communicating with each other reply to boyfreind trouble if u have hlp

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2014

    Hi reply back to Glitter to give me spme advise

    Hi im going into middle school to . I like this guy he already knows because my studpit cousins told him because they live right next door. I went to a canival and my cousin and the guy i like was there to and i was with my friends minding my own bussiness and i saw both of thim on the ride i was and my cousin was talking to the guy i like to hook up with me . I said no. But i wish i didnt because now when i fallasleep the guy i like is in my dreams because i like him so much what should i do someone help me plz thaanks reply back to GLITTER

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Reply to MIDDLE SCHOOL

    Thanks for the tips!:D

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2013

    What lockers look like

    Plzzzz tel me

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2013


    Im scared to read it now ughhhh

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2013


    Middle school is evil coap whith it by not having friends like me. Serisly lm not joking.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013


    Think about the posative things that happen in middle school. Im 13 teen years old

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    is a good book

    Helpful book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013


    I havnt read the book but looking at the reviews are you kidding?That stuff about more than just kissing gross. Next year im going to middle school...just gross you should be ashamed!!!!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013


    Is teh book good? if it is ill read it im a middle schooler.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2012

    Shut up

    People shut up it is nast for yall too see or read 5pluse

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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