Transition tips for children starting middle school are more important than many parents are aware of. I worked as a school nurse in middle schools for over 13 years and have witnessed firsthand the stress that accompanies this transition!
There are lots of worries for these students, but the top three areas of concern tend to be logistical, social, and academic.
12 Transition Tips for Children Starting Middle School
The majority of the time, a middle school building is going to be much larger than an elementary building. Students are actually afraid of knowing WHERE TO GO!
This is a concern that parents can solve for their student before school starts! Being proactive with your child’s logistical worries can cause a major decrease in those worries and will lessen your child’s stress level! Here are a few tips to solve this worry:
1. Visit the school building and take a detailed tour BEFORE school starts. You may need to go several times if it is a really large school. Be sure to locate bathrooms that are closest to all your child’s classes. Get a class schedule and walk the scheduled room to room. Don’t forget to find the cafeteria!
2. Read the school handbook BEFORE school starts together with your child. If your child knows in advance how much time they have between classes and how long it will take to walk to each class…they won’t be as stressed out. If they understand what the consequences are for being tardy to class, etc. it will ease their uneasiness.
3. Put a map of the school with your child’s classroom’s highlighted in their binder so they will have it handy the first day.
4. If the school requires a combination lock….practice with it at home so your child will be able to quickly unlock their locker between classes.
Middle school is social maze compared to elementary school. You are changing classes each period and you will be in classes with a lot more students than you were in elementary school.
This can be overwhelming for children that like the comfort of a single classroom with a group of the same children each day. Your child is also thinking about the fact that they are the youngest in this maze.
It is easy as adults to downplay our children’s fears, but middle school brings a lot of pressure to be social. Here are some ideas if your child is worried about the social aspects of the transition to middle school:
1. Remind your child that they will have the opportunity to meet a lot of students by changing classes each period. Talk about this change in a positive light and emphasize the opportunity for more potential friends.
2. Encourage your child to get involved at school. There will be a lot more activities to join then there were in elementary school. Sports, clubs, fine arts, and other activities can help your child find their niche.
3. Have a heart to heart talk with your child about being who they are. It is more important to be yourself then to be “cool” and to fit in. Encourage them to hang out with kid’s they like and are comfortable with. Talk about the importance of not compromising their beliefs and convictions to gain “friends”.
4. Some children need to go over some basic social skills. Talk to your child about how to join in conversations without interrupting and how to be a good friend.
There is a big difference in the workload from elementary to middle school. Typically there will be more homework and more independence is expected from the students.
Hopefully, your child’s last teacher in elementary started to prepare them for what to expect in middle school, but you can’t assume this was the case.
Parents need to do a good job of getting their child ready for the changes that will take place in middle school academically. Some common issues the children will face are: lots of different teachers—each having different expectations, more homework, bigger need to be organized and the work may be a lot harder. Some tips that can help:
1. It is imperative that you work with your child during the first few weeks of school to create an organizational system that works for them. They have to be organized to stay on top of each class and the homework. The teachers won’t be holding their hand like they may have been used to in elementary school. If your child is organized it will ease a lot of stress.
2. Encourage your child to talk to their teachers. There is a stereotype that teachers in middle and high school aren’t as caring or concerned as elementary teachers. This is not necessarily the case! I know firsthand that middle school teachers do care about your child’s success! Let your child know that it is okay to ask questions if they don’t understand an assignment!
3. Most schools today have some type of online system where parents and students can look at grades and assignments. Show your child how this online system works so that they can stay on top of their grades. Let your child know that you will also be keeping a close eye on if they are turning all their work in, etc.
4. Work on your child’s time management skills. There will be more projects type assignments in middle school that will require time management. If your child has good skills in this area early on they will have a much better chance of success!
Middle School doesn’t have to be a scary transition for your child if you are willing to take some time and work with them. If you will follow these transition tips for children starting middle school I think your child will breeze through this transition with flying colors!