Preparing Your Child for Middle School

A friend of mine recently told me that she was not looking forward to autumn, because it meant she had to send her baby into that pit of humiliation and despair: middle school. Looking back, many adults consider their middle school years some of the worst they had to endure. The good news is that moving from elementary school to middle school does not have to be painful. With a little preparation, your child can experience an amazingly smooth transition.

As a parent, you can assist in your child’s move to middle school by attending all informational meetings. Many schools offer an orientation night in the spring. New students and families visit the building, meet the teachers, and begin to become familiar with their new surroundings. If your student would benefit from additional time in the new school, call the school office and request a time for a second visit. This would be especially beneficial if your child feels like the building’s size is overwhelming (most middle schools are larger than elementary schools). Don’t be afraid to ask if a staff member is available show you around. Many schools can feel like a maze, until halls and classroom locations become more familiar.

When your child receives his/her schedule, stop by the school and have him/her practice traveling from class to class. Arriving that first day and knowing exactly how to get to all classrooms, the gym, and the cafeteria relieves some of the first day stress middle school students experience.

Will your child use a locker this year? Many of my students report that the fear of not being able to open their lockers is second only to getting lost on the first day. To minimize this pressure, give your child a padlock and the combination. When your child can open the padlock, he/she will know the pattern for opening a locker.

Probably the best thing you can do for your new middle schooler is to talk. Remind them that middle school is going to be different from elementary school. Tell them that it is okay to be nervous, because every other new student will feel the same way. Help them remember that there are adults at school who will help them through the first days; all students have to do is ask.

The good news is that most middle school students make it through the day problem-free. In fact, some even go as far as to say, “Hey, this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be!” With a little preparation and encouragement from you, your child’s first day of middle school will be a breeze!

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