Moving from elementary school to middle school is surrounded by changes in your child’s environment – both inside and outside the classroom. Kids are required to be more independent, and more responsible. They have to be prepared for the new, complex demands of middle school.
Graduating from elementary school is a big step in growing up, both exciting and scary at the same time. Your child’s concerns can range from finding the right classroom to taking care of his belongings, from coping with homework to managing time, and a whole lot more. Plus, while these young adolescents are changing school buildings, they are also changing hormonally, mentally, and physically.
That’s why transitioning from elementary school to middle school really is a big deal. When a child enjoys the middle school years, there’s a much better chance that he will do well in high school as well. Schools often have complete programs, plans and activities to help student, parents as well as educators, including middle school tutors.
As a parent, you’re thinking how can I help my child cope? How can I help him prepare for the move to middle school? Should I enroll him in a middle school tutoring program? Well, there are ways to make the transition from elementary school more effective and less intimidating.
Your child’s concerns can broadly be divided into three categories: logistical, social and academic. Here are some ways you can help your child manage:
Ways to work out the logistical concerns of transitioning from elementary school
- Check out the new school with your child. Visit the premises and explain to your child how his school is organized. Help him find his way to the cafeteria, library, bathroom and gym. Set landmarks and help him memorize them so he can find his way around on a normal school day when the halls are crowded with other kids.
- Prepare your child for using a locker because moving from a stationary desk in his classroom to the locker in the hallway will bring its own set of challenges. Remembering the locker number, keeping it organized, using a combination lock – these are some of the basics your child will need to learn. But first things first – help your child make a note of his locker number and memorize it. Let him write it down somewhere or take a picture of it. And similarly for the lock combination. Keeping the locker organized comes next. Give him the essentials like hooks and a shelf and let him arrange things himself. Talk him through the process and help him make the decisions. Also, stock the locker with a ready supply of extras – pens, batteries and folders
- Go through the school handbook and other information received. Familiarize him with the set-up of his new school, and its rules and procedures. Discuss the expectations his teachers could have and use this opportunity to set straight the exaggerated stories he could’ve heard from some of the older kids.
- Get your child used to using a calendar or planner because going from the protected environment of elementary school to the independence of middle school means your child needs to be a whole lot more self-reliant. And time management is a common difficulty. A calendar or planner can help him. Assist him in getting used to noting and tracking assignments and practice sessions, setting deadlines and making to-do lists. Having everything recorded and organized will ease a lot of the stress.
Working through the social fear of moving from elementary school to middle school
- Equip your child with social skills, like listening patiently, respecting personal space and others’ feelings, making eye contact and using basic manners. Familiarize him with appropriate responses and greetings to different situations like being teased or when he wants to give a compliment. Teach him ways to make new friends – like by sharing his snack.
- Build your child’s self-confidence. Help your child focus on what he is good at. Aim for improvement and mastery, rather than his relative ability or making comparisons. Give praise freely, and acknowledge and reward your child’s efforts regularly. Also, help him set realistic goals and be prepared for failure and mistakes. Teach resilience, so he can confidently bounce back from setbacks.
- Encourage participation in extracurricular activities of your child’s liking. These are great for making new friends, being part of a group and fitting-in. Help him choose a few activities so that a balance is maintained with homework.
Dealing with academic concerns when transitioning from elementary school
When transitioning from elementary to middle school, help your child manage homework time. Work together to prepare a schedule for study time, break time, chores, etc. Speak to his teacher to understand the time he would need for homework and plan accordingly.
- Try to get your child to work more independently while supporting him enough to build his confidence. Break down large tasks like big projects into a series of smaller, more manageable pieces. To help him effectively using his study skills, teach him how to self-regulate.
- Stay connected to your child’s school and school work. Seek the help that’s already available from the school – like books, websites or other resources for homework. Connect with his teachers. Attend school events, open houses, parent-teacher conferences and the like.
- Help your child build a relationship with his teachers. Encourage him to discuss problems and solutions with teachers on his own, but be prepared to step in when needed.
Planning in advance, and openly discussing things can go a long way in easing the move from elementary school. Give your child his independence, but also provide security, protection and structure.
While you give your child the freedom to make his own choices and learn from his mistakes, you could also do with assistance in meeting his needs in transitioning from elementary school. For eg., a middle school tutor could help with academics. Get in touch with Talentnook to find the perfect tutor to help your child with a smooth academic transition into middle school.