You have done the tours and you have met the teachers. Now, with only a few days to go until your kiddo’s first day of middle school, how do we parents make sure the transition from elementary school is a smooth one?
Listen with intent
Do not dismiss your child’s feelings. Going from the top of the ladder in elementary school to having to start at the bottom tier again in a new school can be stressful for anyone. Let your kiddo express himself. Encourage him to be patient and talk about his feelings as much as possible. Try to listen between the lines. Pay attention for high anxiety triggers, sadness and odd behavior. You know your kiddo best, so staying in tune with his personality and behaviors is key.
Getting involved and staying involved in school activities that he enjoys will help him gain his footing in this new environment, but too many can be overwhelming. Let him pick and choose, but encourage some sort of participation in school-related extracurricular activities to bond with classmates and find a new social circle.
Let his personality shine
If your school has a uniform in place or a dress code, it may be difficult for some middle school kids to find the “fun” in school shopping. However, middle school is a great time to let his personality shine. Take him on his own middle school shopping trip, separate from younger or older siblings. Have him pick out his new backpack, lunch box, pencils (I hear mechanicals are all the rage) and locker décor.
If your middle schooler is riding the bus, see if any of his neighborhood friends will be joining at the bus stop. If he is going to be riding his bike, take multiple bike rides as a family on the route he will be taking. Show him where to lock up his bike and helmet. If the campus opens before school starts, get a copy of his schedule and practice his route with him. Locate bathrooms, the lunch room and the media center. Download a copy of the school handbook and make sure he understands the rules of the school. Getting him as prepared as possible is the key to his success.
Middle school is a complex time for kids. Between starting over in a new school, hormones and social stresses, it can be a trying time for anyone. But, with some preparation, you can help your child get acclimated quickly and succeed both academically and socially.
- Have him practice his locker combination BEFORE school starts.
- Make sure his bike (if he will be riding) is in tip top shape — helmet included!
- Know the rules of the school. From dress code to cellphone rules, these will definitely impact your kiddo.
- Find out how to be involved as a parent.
- Connect with his teachers. Understand their rules and make sure you are able to get in contact with them if needed.
- If your child has special needs, either academic or physical, let his teachers and the school administration know as soon as possible. Connecting sooner rather than later will help your child get acclimated and settled into a good pattern early on.
- Decide if your child is going to be buying his lunch or bringing. If you plan on having your child bring his lunch but he wants to buy, set a schedule or amount limit.
- Understand the consequences of breaking school rules.
- Keep him connected to old friends if they will not be attending the same school.
- Talk about homework time and create a designated study area to help him out.
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