Your child did it! They made it through elementary school with flying colors, and now they’re ready to embark on the next phase of their academic journey–their middle school transition.
Whoa! Where did the time go? And while we’re sure you’re excited–and your child is probably even more excited–it makes sense that they might be a little nervous even though they might already be equipped with some back to school jokes.
After all, transitioning to middle school can be very daunting whether they are going to a private or a public school…
But before you get caught up in the horror-movie-background-music, here are a few things you (yes, you!) can do to answer your child’s questions about middle school, and make it just a little bit less of a culture shock for your child.
What can I expect?
What does your child know about middle school? Probably not much, beyond what Nickelodeon has taught them, and why should they? Your child’s elementary school teachers haven’t sat them down and given them the rundown of what they should expect, so here’s what you can do!
1. To start off, pull up your child’s Middle School’s website and read through the school’s announcements with them.
Make sure your child is aware of any upcoming events, assemblies, etc. while transitioning to middle school. This will give them a feeling of security, knowing what’s going on in the environment they’re about to be plunked into.
2. You should also make sure your child understands and accepts the major changes they’re going to have to undertake.
Is your child aware that middle school has (dun dun dun!) no recess? They’re also probably used to having their own personal desk to place their things, but does your child know how to use a locker? Make sure that your child is aware of, and ready for, these changes!
3. Try and get your hands on a copy of the school’s handbook, and read through the school’s policies and procedures with your child.
What are the school’s policies on food and drinks in the classroom? Does your child’s school require uniforms? To quell your child’s fears of being sent to the principal’s office on the first day of school, calmly go through the rules, so they know where they can safely step.
What if I’m late? The passing period is so short!
Passing periods are undoubtedly the biggest difference between elementary school and middle school.
Your child is most likely accustomed to having just one teacher, and staying in the same classroom all day, save for an hour of lunch and 30 minutes of recess–but now your child will have to (gasp!) walk.
Passing periods can be tough to get used to, especially during the first couple weeks of school, when your child still hasn’t quite memorized the locations of all of their classes, but don’t fret! You can help your child get used to their school’s passing period in advance.
The best medicine for passing period fears?
4. Set a timer for 3 minutes, and go for a casual walk with your child.
Time can be deceiving. And once your child realizes that they can actually get very far in three measly minutes, they won’t worry one wink about a 7-minute passing period. All they really need is a little confidence boost, and they’ll be ready to take on the world!
5. Buy your child a wristwatch
Make sure your child has a working easy-to-read wristwatch so they will be able to keep track of their time. Alternatively, their phone’s clock function can also help them manage their time. Just ensure that the time is set correctly to help their middle school transition become less stressful.
What if I get lost? How will I find my classes?
As we have mentioned earlier, your child is probably used to having just one teacher and one classroom, but soon enough they’re going to have several teachers, and are going to have to find their way to several classrooms. Your child is probably wondering, “how on earth am I going to find my classes on the first day, without getting lost?”
How can you help your child conquer these fears in transitioning to middle school? Here are a couple of ideas.
6. Get a map of your child’s Middle School (there is probably one available on the school’s website), gather a few of your child’s friends, and plan an adventure day.
Don’t worry–you don’t have to trek through the desert or the forest. Basically, the idea is that you all explore the middle school for the day and find the locations of each of your child’s classes.
Before you do this, you’re probably going to want to call the school’s front office to make sure it’s okay. It’s also probably a better idea to explore the school when it’s out of session so that it is not crowded.
7. Check the school’s website and see if they offer any summer programs.
Does your child want to learn to paint? Why not take a painting class at their new middle school?
Many middle schools offer summer programs for incoming students, in which they take fun, educational classes, meet new friends, and get acquainted with the school’s campus. This is a very effective way to help your child in transitioning to middle school.
What if I don’t make any friends?
Odds are, your child will be attending middle school along with all of their elementary school buds, but they’re probably worried as well. Your child might end up in a class or two without anyone they know, which can make them feel lonely.
Here are a few tips to ensure that your child makes friends!
8. Encourage your child to join a club.
Your child’s school’s website probably lists out the different clubs, sports, and extracurricular programs they offer. Read through these with your child and try and find something your child is interested in.
Even if your child can’t play an instrument or isn’t a fan of sports, there are still plenty of clubs they can join! Community service clubs, while being a rewarding experience, are definitely a great way to meet people.
9. Work on some basic social skills.
You should also make sure your child knows that everyone else is in the exact same boat as them—everyone is trying to find their own niche and fit in when transitioning to middle school!
Teach them how to strike up a conversation, and introduce themselves in a friendly way. People sometimes forget that all you really have to do in order to make friends is say, “Hi! My name is [first name], what’s yours?”
10. Discuss the importance of being a good listener
Being a good listener is a trait that will help your child make friends. In an age where everyone has something to say, being someone who listens and pays attention is valued by many. You can help your child develop this trait by being a good listener yourself. Pay attention whenever your child will say something or in other words, model the trait that you want them to embody.
11. Let them explore who they really are
Middle school is where most teens start exploring who they really are and begin building their confidence. You can encourage your child to develop their sense of self by trying out different activities or experimenting on the clothes they wear. Do not be the kind of parent who is too strict when it comes to this kind of stuff. Remember, you’ve been through this, and probably, the biggest part of who you are now was developed when you were transitioning to middle school.
What if I can’t handle all the homework and other academic requirements?
Now that your child has multiple teachers, and not just one, they’re going to have significantly more homework, so naturally, your child is worried that they won’t have enough time to keep up with Full House.
What? You’re telling us they don’t make that show anymore?!
Anyway. So how can you make sure that your child stays on top of their work, and remains stress-free?
12. For the first couple weeks of class, talk your child through their homework schedule.
It doesn’t have to be rocket surgery to deal with assignments while transitioning to middle school. Just make a list of all of the assignments they have to complete and make a schedule detailing how long they will spend on each assignment.
It might be even better to start a “practice” homework schedule during the last few weeks of summer, so your child can get the hang of keeping on track on their own!
13. Hire a tutor
Don’t have time to teach your child about organizational and time management skills?
Another option could be to hire a tutor! Tutors aren’t just there to help your child understand a math problem, or learn to read faster, they can also teach your child how to effectively manage their time, and complete their assignments before their due dates which are very necessary for their middle school transition.
14. Stay connected with your child’s teacher.
Another good way of helping your child deal with the pressure of all his school works is by staying connected with your child’s teacher. You can do this by attending the back-to-school night and parent-teacher conferences. The teacher imparts essential information about school works as well as the progress of your child in these meetings so it would pay to attend them. You will also be able to better guide your child in their academics because you have an idea about what they have learned in school.
15. Avoid overreacting to the grades or scores your child will receive.
Remember that the first few weeks of middle school is all about adjusting to a new environment. Their focus is divided into making friends or finding a clique, getting to know their teachers, or exploring what other things their school has to offer. If they failed in a quiz or got a below-average mark, let it go, but remind them to do their best as well. This is a proven way to motivate your teenager. And eventually, you will see the progress of your child in their academics once they have already adjusted.
16. Encourage your child to speak up when he encounters problems
Let your child be their own advocate. If they do not know something or they have encountered a difficult lesson, teach them to reach out to their teachers and speak up. This is also a crucial step to building your child’s confidence because they are learning to use their voice to express what they have in mind.
17. Motivate them to have a good relationship with the school counselor
The school counselors are not only in their office to reprimand students who fail to follow the school rules. They are also there to help anyone who is encountering problems, be it academic, or emotional. Encourage your child to pay the counselor a visit whenever they are encountering problems at school. This way, they will realize that there are a lot of people who are concerned about them and very willing to help.
18. Teach them how to be responsible
So your child has forgotten an assignment to be submitted during the first period. Do you go running to the campus to bring it? We would suggest that you avoid doing this for your child. Teach them how to be responsible for their actions instead of consistently being to the rescue whenever something goes wrong. Being responsible is one of the foundations of being independent so make sure you balance being supportive to being an overly present parent. This is also necessary if they want to develop their leadership skills.
19. Encourage them to be independent
The last tip on this list is anchored to tip no. 18. Since shifting to middle school is a big milestone for your child, you should also help them be more independent. Teach them ways on how they can trust their abilities whenever they are facing different situations. By doing this, you are not only helping them survive middle school but you are also helping them develop a skill that they would need as they become an adult.
Don’t stress over middle school transition!
Middle school might seem pretty intimidating at first, but your child will be fine! Most children adjust rather quickly and have no trouble making the transition to middle school.
And if your child knows what to expect, middle school won’t be anything to stress over–it’ll be a piece of cake.
Here is a recap of the 19 ways to ease your child’s middle school transition:
- To start off, pull up your child’s Middle School’s website and read through the school’s announcements with them.
- You should also make sure your child understands and accepts the major changes they’re going to have to undertake.
- Try and get your hands on a copy of the school’s handbook, and read through the school’s policies and procedures with your child.
- Set a timer for 3 minutes, and go for a casual walk with your child.
- Buy your child a wristwatch
- Get a map of your child’s Middle School (there is probably one available on the school’s website), gather a few of your child’s friends, and plan an adventure day.
- Check the school’s website and see if they offer any summer programs.
- Encourage your child to join a club.
- Work on some basic social skills.
- Discuss the importance of being a good listener
- Let them explore who they really are
- For the first couple weeks of class, talk your child through their homework schedule.
- Hire a tutor.
- Stay connected with your child’s teacher.
- Avoid overreacting to the grades or scores your child will receive.
- Encourage your child to speak up when he encounters problems
- Build a good relationship with the school counselor
- Teach them how to be responsible
- Encourage them to be independent
Got any more tips about middle school transition? Share it in the comment box below.