Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday that you were cuddling a sleeping infant? Yet somehow now you’re preparing that same child for middle school. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun. As nervous as you may be for this next step in your child’s academic career, there is a good chance that they are feeling the same way. Any significant transition (even if their transition keeps them on the same campus) can produce anxiety. And while we all know that your child is ready for middle school, they might need a little bit of help feeling confident enough to make the transition.
Transitioning to middle school is the next big step in your child’s development and there are some things they will have to experience on their own. For each of us, even as adults, it’s through overcoming trials that we develop self-confidence. However, while there are many developmental milestones that your new middle school student will have to navigate on his or her own, there are also many things that we can do to help ease the transition.
Introduce Them to the Physical Space
Whether your child has been attending St. Barnabas School for years already, or they will be walking on campus for the first time as a middle school student in the fall, your child’s first year of middle school will be a whole different ball game. Take some time to familiarize your student with the campus either for the first time or through a new lens. This may look like studying a campus map, attending open houses, or getting in contact with our office to schedule a tour. In addition to finding their bearings at a new school, your child will benefit from meeting teachers and other key adults on campus. Establishing those connections early on will help them feel comfortable and safe in their environment.
Find An Ally In Your Teachers
The best ally your child has in their transition to middle school is their teachers. Even the most supportive and engaged parents don’t see what’s going on in the classroom and may miss signs that a child is struggling. Teachers, however, are present-day in and day out and can act as the first line of support for students as they ease into their new middle school life. If you want to get the most out of your relationship with your children’s middle school teachers, it’s wise to invest in those relationships. Bearing in mind that each middle school teacher has dozens of students to work with each day, a close connection with your child’s teacher is an important factor in your whole family making a smooth middle school transition.
Set Clear Expectations
There is a big difference between elementary and middle school. The stakes are higher, the tests are harder, and the homework is more frequent. We share this not to scare you, but to remind you that the expectation of your middle school child will shift within the classroom, and they may need to shift at home as well. Before you get into the after-school homework battles, it may help to set clear expectations of what kind of behavior and participation is expected of your children during their middle school career. Even as an adult you know how helpful clear expectations are. Do yourself and your child a favor and start middle school off with everyone on the same page.
Practice The New Routine
How will your routine change when your child begins middle school in the fall? Perhaps the day will start and end at different times. Maybe another parent or relative will be taking over the drop-off or pick-up duties. It may help your child’s transition to practice their new routine so they know what to expect, what it feels like to wake up at a different time, or even what it’s like to pack their lunch. A sense of familiarity with their new middle school routine can ease anxiety and make the transition to their new grade feel more manageable.
Encourage Club and Activity Participation
Some people are naturally outgoing and social, while others need a little more coaxing. By now you know what type of child you have on your hands. If your child is less likely to engage socially on their own, encourage them to find organized ways to participate in their new middle school community. For your child that may look like sports teams, musical groups, or academic clubs. At St. Barnabas we offer a variety of different programs in these categories, feel free to contact our office for more information.
Middle school is a brave new world for students and parents alike. Whether you’re sending your child to a whole new school, or the transition is simply symbolic of the next phase of your child’s academic career there is no doubt that all the members of your family will feel it. At St. Barnabas School were confident in our ability to provide high-quality education while also cultivating the community your children need to smooth their transition into middle school. Whether your child is already a member of our school community or you’re interested in joining us in the fall, contact us any time for more information about our middle school program.