By Guest Blogger Megan Taylor with Forsyth Family Magazine
There are many educational milestones in a child’s life. These moments can include starting and graduating from preschool, elementary, middle, and high schools. All of the transitions from one to another can be hard for a child, especially the transition from elementary to middle school. For example, a student is going from having one teacher all day to having four to six teachers with four to six classes daily. Plus, there are now lockers, more work, and additional responsibilities. Yet, the transition from elementary to middle school doesn’t have to stress out the student and their parent. Continue reading for some tips to help make the switch as easy as possible.
One of the biggest changes is in routine. As mentioned above, a child is transitioning between multiple classrooms, remembering a locker combination, and getting the needed materials at different times of the day from that locker. Other changes could be in the length of a class. Maybe in elementary school, subjects were taught for only 45 minutes. In middle school, some can be 60 minutes or up to 90 minutes with a block schedule.
- Talk about the upcoming changes before your child’s middle school orientation or first day of school. Start at the end of elementary school and prepare them during the summer. For some students, this change is nothing. For others, it can be overwhelming. Let your child know what to expect and answer any of their questions.
- Go over their class schedule early and review it often. Make sure your student has copies of their schedule in easy, accessible places, such as their agenda or locker.
- Tour the school and go through your child’s schedule, just like a normal day of school. Sometimes during orientation, the school will also have students run through their schedules. However, it is always good to take a tour as many times as possible. Open house is a great night to do this. In addition, take time to find the cafeteria, gym, library, office, and restrooms.
- Organize and label school materials. There isn’t much time for locker breaks and between classes. Students have to quickly grab their stuff for their next classes. Organization is key for a middle school student. One trick to try is color-coding each subject. Also, you can keep everything in one place for all the classes. Let your child be a part of this process and help them choose what works best for them. Go from the teachers’ supply lists, as well, for organizational guidance. Lastly, reorganize whenever you need to and make sure to clean out lockers, backpacks, folders, and binders as often as possible.
- Changes in routine also might mean changes in the routine at home. Middle school usually starts and ends earlier than elementary school, meaning a child’s morning might start earlier, too. To avoid stress, adjust bedtimes and prepare school materials at night. Keep backpacks, lunch boxes, etc. by the door. As for an earlier school release, you may find that there is more time in the afternoons. Create a schedule with your child’s input for the extra time. However, keep in mind that there may be extra homework, more obligations, and more extracurricular activities. Do the same for the evening time.
- Teach your child time management. Create schedules and block out the time when your child has an activity, dinner time, homework time, etc. In addition, work with them to make the most of their time. Even five minutes here and there can add up and be a time saver.
Other tips to remember are to keep the lines of communication open with your child and your child’s teacher, and to be aware of who they are friends with, and who might be bullies. Middle school is tough, especially the sixth grade. It takes time to adjust to the new routines. The good news is that you and your student aren’t alone. It is normal to be a little nervous. It is normal for them to be lost at first. However, let them know you are there for them, just as are their teachers and school administrators.
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