How to Help Your Child Transition to Middle School

Children love to learn the rhythm and routines of school as they move through elementary grades, gaining knowledge, experience, and finally, the prestige of being the top class in school. The transition to Middle School can be a daunting one for even the most confident students, with new and unfamiliar routines, more rigorous academics, expanded responsibility, changing friendships, and the challenges that come with puberty. As parents, you can help to prepare them for their transition to middle school in numerous ways. Open, frequent communication is the number one way to support their growth, confidence, and changing needs. Each child may have concerns in different areas, but this can be one of the most challenging transitions for many students, both academically and personally.

Academic Adjustments

Students entering middle school are often concerned about the challenges they may face with expectations of harder classes and more homework. Many middle schoolers enjoy the narrower focus of their classes and the opportunity to explore topics in more depth, engage in more hypothetical considerations, and develop their areas of interest and talent. Even though they are on the same campus, moving to middle school can feel like a substantial change. Some adjustments they may be concerned about include:

  1. Moving between classrooms with different teachers rather than having a primary classroom and teacher
  2. More challenging, in-depth courses with increased homework

How You Can Help

Increasingly rigorous work throughout elementary school arms students with the skills they will need as they enter middle school, but many are still concerned about what to expect and their ability to handle it. You can help them by:

  1. Supporting good personal study habits which may include household rules about electronics use, dedicated homework time, social activity, and more
  2. Taking an active interest in their schoolwork, such as asking questions about their classes over dinner and checking in on the homework they’re doing
  3. Encouraging them to talk with their teachers about course material and homework — they will need to take more initiative to do so than was required in elementary school.
  4. Do not be alarmed if their academic performance drops a little at the beginning of this transition

Social Changes

One of the most difficult transitions of middle school can be navigating its social aspects. Middle schoolers are entering puberty and adjusting to the physical, emotional, and social changes it brings. It is also the first time they are making a shift from being “top of the heap” in elementary school to “bottom of the heap” in sixth grade. Even though many of our students are continuing to our middle school with others they may have known since kindergarten, it can feel like a new start in many ways. Common concerns most students have on entering middle school focus on:

  1. Curiosity about dating and personal relationships
  2. More conscious awareness of gender differences and behaviors
  3. Changing patterns and styles of friendships as personalities develop and interests diverge
  4. Awareness of maturing bodies, appearances, and individual styles
  5. Curiosity about trying new looks and more attention to trends and fitting in
  6. Discovering themselves and their interests
  7. Greater influence of peer pressure, both positive and negative
  8. Frequent, sometimes conflicting feelings of self-confidence and self-consciousness

How You Can Help

Of course, doing all you can to support your children’s social and emotional well-being and confidence is a vital part of helping them stay comfortable with themselves, so they can focus on learning. You can aid middle schoolers through these most challenging times by:

  1. Encouraging them to talk to you openly about their concerns and problems
  2. Reminding them that our teachers and guidance counselors are available during the school day
  3. Remembering that social issues that may feel trivial to you may feel tremendously significant to your child
  4. Suggesting they explore the full variety of extracurricular activities available to them, following current interests and trying out new things
  5. Talking with them about friendships and how they can change and grow (or not grow) over time — middle schoolers tend to seek out the advice and opinions of their friends far more than elementary-aged children who generally rely more on parents and teachers

Routines & Responsibility

The shift to middle school is a significant point at which students must become more self-motivated, responsible, and independent as learners and as individuals. Developing these skills prepares them for future opportunities, additional learning, academic and personal achievement, and long-term success. Of course, our middle school environment is a supportive one, encouraging and engaging each of our students, but it is also one with increased expectations for academic performance and personal responsibility. Middle schoolers are expected to be:

  1. More in charge of their own activities, schedules, schoolwork, and materials
  2. Organized and able to track their own assignments and homework
  3. Self-motivated to ask questions and contact teachers when they need guidance
  4. More independent in their learning and seeking out information

How You Can Help

Part of helping your child with this critical area of growth and change is to support and encourage them but also to step back a little more, offering them increased independence. Specifically, we suggest you can:

  1. Help your child be more organized.
  2. Keep technology in shared spaces, and/or discuss appropriate internet safety and your own expectations about their behavior and activities online
  3. Avoid dropping off forgotten materials, homework or other items at school, encouraging them to keep track of what they need and plan and prepare accordingly
  4. Remind them to contact teachers with school-related questions — helping with homework should be less frequent than in elementary school
  5. Allow them increasing independence and the ability to make their own choices and mistakes — and that both you, and they, must accept the consequences both good and bad
  6. Continue to support healthy habits and good sleep

At Las Vegas Day School, we encourage and develop lifelong learners with the knowledge and skills to become leaders, innovators, and overall, to find success in their futures. We welcome you to contact us and learn more about our state-of-the-art preschool through eighth grade campus, exceptional academic programs, and top-rated staff.

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