The transition from elementary school to middle school can bring up many concerns and questions for parent and students alike. This change from grade school to junior high can be thrilling and terrifying at the same time. By getting and staying involved with their child’s academics and obtaining as much information as they can, parents can make this huge step into uncharted territory a little less rocky. Good communication between parents and their children, as with any rite of passage, is extremely important. During this time of great upheaval, staying connected with your child and knowing about their friendships and school can be a very big role in getting through this tough time unscathed. Here are a few bits of advice to help you and your middle school student ready for the changeover.
Check Out the School
It might be possible to get a good feel of the school ahead of time. A lot of middle schools will offer you and your student an orientation to help you get acquainted with the new venue. Another thing that might help a lot is calling or meeting with a guidance counselor or administrator; this will give you the opportunity to ask all of your bi questions about scheduling and classes.
One important thing that you want to avoid is late registration; this could result in poor class choices for electives or even missing the first day of school. If possible, try to register ahead of time.
Talk About Expected Changes
Those students just entering middle school might find it a bit of a shock that they are now expected to have more personal responsibilities than when they were in elementary school. Parents and students should have a conversation about the differences between the old and new ways of doing things. Students will be having class periods with up to 8 different teachers where they used to be in one classroom with just one teacher all day long. They will have to be responsible for learning their class schedules and possible a locker combination. They will also need to begin carrying with them their own school supplies and maintaining proper behavior. They need to understand that the consequences for poor behavior may be a bit harsher than they were used to at the lower grade levels.
Middle school is definitely a strange new world and from the very first day your student will need to make adjustments. Typically, there are many elementary schools that supply the middle school with students; the middle schools are much larger. Your student is now faced with a large crowd of new faces in their classrooms and potentially none of the more familiar faces at all. Before, during and after the transition, parents can make great sounding boards for their students. Your child should be encouraged to discuss with you any problems he or she might be having. More than ever before, you will need to be a great listener for your child.
The transition into middle school is not completely fraught with hardships, there are some exciting changes coming your way as well. There will be clubs and sports to participate in and elective courses to select; this is where your child can start building skills, talents and favorite pastimes. Middle school is a just a beginning in the shaping of your child’s personal growth. There are instruments to learn, sports to play, student council offices to run for… this is a time for social and emotional development as much as it is for academic. Parents should encourage students to pursue a wide range of activities and make the most out of their middle school years.
Create a Shopping List
Back to school shopping is one of the joys of going back every fall. But, before you head to the mall and start buying, there is some information you’ll need to gather first. You’ll need to find out if your child will need a school uniform; a number of public schools are now implementing the uniform dress code policies. These uniforms are typically reasonably priced and are made to last a good long time and they can be found in a number of retail stores. The use of school uniforms may end up saving you a lot of money on back-to-school clothes. You’ll only need to buy maybe four or five to keep your child dressed and ready for the classroom.
Make sure you check with the school about any dress codes they may have before you spend the cash on school clothes your child may never use. The shorts and tank tops that your student may have worn in elementary school are now violations of secondary school policy. Aside from that, you should also look into the policy regarding headwear and shoes.
Most middle schools no longer provide lockers as they once did; your student will need to carry their belongings and school supplies with them all day. When looking for a backpack, make sure it is quite sturdy. You might want to look into purchasing one that has wheels as books can be rather heavy; make sure you check the school’s policies regarding that accessory, too.
On the first day, your sixth grader will only need a notebook, a pen and a pencil. More specific school supplies can be purchased later when you know what all of their different teachers require. Your child should be prepared for taking notes on the first day he or she attends classes. There is a lot of absorb in the first week and as parents you should be prepared to listen to your student and ask plenty of questions about their transition.
Middle school can be both a trying and exciting time in a young person’s life. Most kids can handle the adjustments just fine and will make the most of their experiences. The key to helping them do so is good communication. As parents you can help out a great deal by just listening and discussing the new emotional, personal and academic roles your child will be assuming. These are the foundation years that will build your child’s future; you can make sure they start on solid ground.