It is very common for kids who are transitioning from elementary to middle school to feel anxious and apprehensive about this big change. Everything will be different.
Some areas of worry include:
- Academic performance – how do I stack up compared to everybody else? How do I deal with having so many teachers?
- Logistical worries – what if I get lost? How do I get from one side of the building to the other in time?
- Social anxiety – will I fit in? Who will I sit with at lunchtime?
All told, that’s a lot of pressure, especially if a child already struggles with learning or attention challenges. This article outlines ways you can help ease your child’s transition.
The rules & the (home)work
Before school starts, you and your child can explore many aspects of middle school life. The school handbook is a useful place to start as it contains lots of valuable information, from policies on bullying to a list of extracurricular offerings.
You may to contact members of the faculty before school begins. Informing teachers of strategies that have proven successful with your child in the past will help foster continuity.
Is there a school hotline? If so, you can help your child learn how to use it. Sometimes schools also post assignments and grades online. Make sure you and your child know how to find them!
What if I get lost?
Middle schools are usually larger and more confusing than elementary schools. Classrooms are often organized differently, and there are generally more of them. New students can get lost in the new environment. You can help familiarize your child with the new layout by:
- Creating a map with your child and reviewing it together.
- Taking a dry run through the school before classes begin, locating lockers, bathrooms and classrooms.
- Finding out how much time there is between classes. Time how long it takes to move from one classroom to another, or from the lockers to the homeroom.
Will I make new friends?
Often kids are worried about their social life. You can support them by simply listening to them talk about what worries them. Sometimes just listening without judgment or the need to take action can be reassuring to them. Assure them that the school staff is also there to support them.
Frequently, signing up for an extracurricular program or a club, trying out for a sport or the school band can help forge the path to new friendships.
If your child is game, try role-playing possible scenarios that are causing him or her angst. Some likely difficult situations include finding a place to sit in the lunchroom, introducing oneself, or dealing with a bully.
Building your child’s dream team
It can be helpful to meet teachers face to face as soon as possible. One option you may have is to call a meeting close to the start of the school year. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), this meeting will be an excellent time to go over it. You and the other team members may also consider whatever changes might be necessary to help your child adapt to a new educational environment.
It is important to maintain contact with teachers and support personnel throughout the school year. The school may offer phone numbers for that purpose. You can also email teachers and administrators when you have questions or concerns.
Mom, Dad, are you there?
You are the foundation of your child’s support system. Let your son or daughter know you’re available to address everyday issues and organizational challenges. Help create a structure at home that will encourage keeping up with homework while also allowing time for extracurricular activities.
We can help
Even with everything you do, you can still expect bumps in the road. If your child encounters a situation you feel requires extra support, Therapeutic Options can help. Contact us to learn about the services we offer.