The transition from elementary school to middle school can be difficult for both students and parents. Here are some tips to make it smoother and help students go beyond surviving middle school to thriving!
Be Clear About Expectations
Many things about school change between elementary school and middle school. Middle school has more classes, more teachers, and much more to keep up with academically and socially. As a teacher, setting clear expectations for students about policies and procedures can help students get into the groove. Be consistent about expectations not only academically but behaviorally. It is important to model and go through things step-by-step at the beginning of the school year to set up students for success.
At home, parents can also set clear expectations about when homework and other responsibilities need to be completed. Parents also need to be consistent so that students have structure and a routine.
Students have a lot of questions and concerns about middle school because it is new terrain. They are anxious about having a locker and opening their lock. They are nervous that they will be late to class because they can’t find their classroom. They are worried that they won’t have anyone to sit with at lunch.
Parents and teachers can practice with students the procedures they will have to go through, like opening a lock, reading a schedule, and navigating the school. Students will feel more at ease if they are able to go through the routines. Once students receive their schedule, encourage them to talk to other friends to see if they have any classes together. Knowing that they will be with at least someone they know can ease worries about not having friends and feeling alone. Also encourage students to ask questions if they don’t know the answer to something or need help.
Middle school is a critical time to get students connected academically and socially. Parents, talk to students about their interests and seek out opportunities for them to be involved in extracurricular activities at school. Many schools have opportunities for students to participate in clubs and organizations in the academic realm as well as sports teams and clubs. Check to see what opportunities exist at your school for students. Students can gain new friends and new interests by signing up for extracurricular activities.
How do you help students thrive in middle school?
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Too Old for This, Too Young for That! by Harriet S. Mosatche and Karen Unger
“Moving to Middle School” from KidsHealth
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Thanks for your comment SBTherapist! I agree, middle school transition planning is something that needs to be revisited throughout the year!
These are great ideas – I’m wondering if this post would have been even more helpful earlier, maybe even a couple months prior to the school year ending (i.e. April/May). Lots of kids with anxiety need a longer period of time to process these changes and planning ahead may decrease their anxiety leading into the summer and the fall.
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