Congratulations on your child graduating grade school! And in middle school, the preteen years really begin! This is an exciting time for your child and a sign for you that your preteen is becoming more independent both academically and socially. But, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't be a parent and provide guidance and supervision (even when it's you who wants to lock yourself in the bedroom and wear black every day!).
Every transition is difficult and the move to a larger middle school can be tough for some kids. Middle school usually means different teachers for different classes and different kids in each class. It could mean separation from friends for most of the day and potentially not even seeing them at lunch time. It also coincides with the height of clique activity and puberty. Many kids are very excited to be leaving the "baby school," but deep down inside are worried about not being the big fish!
So, how can you make your preteen's move to middle school easier? Here are some tips to smooth the transition:
Take a tour.
If the school district hasn't done this already, take your child on a tour of the middle school. If the school allows, going with a few friends might be even more fun. If you can do the tour right before school starts, see if you can introduce yourself and your child to the guidance counselor or, if the school has one, to the grade Team Leader for the school.
Many schools have "back to school night" where the parents sit for 10 minutes in each class and hear from the teacher what will be taught and what is expected. Introduce yourself to the teacher at that time and be sure to find out the best way to communicate with the teacher (email or phone) if there is a question, problem or concern.
Show them the ropes.
Explain to your preteen the difference between having separate classes for each subject with different teachers. Buy a really good planner to help your child organize assignments.
Ease their anxiety.
Let your preteen talk about her anxieties during this transition and listen in a calm way. Reinforce that these fears are normal but that, with time, they will get used to this school just like they got used to grade school.
Keep friends close.
If your preteen is separated from good friends during the day by different classes or lunchtime, suggest that they make plans for the weekends or join a club or activity together after school.
Get them organized.
Within the first week of school, go over your child's assignments to see if she is using the assignment book correctly and has a good way of organizing herself.
Let go ... a little.
Be prepared to get less information about what is going on during the day once the newness of middle school fades and the year goes on.
Meet their friends.
When your child gets together with a new friend, meet the parents when you drop him off at the home. Ideally, you should know who this new friend is, so introduce yourself to the friend, too, if you haven't met already. Friends in the same grade are probably fine, but for a young sixth grader, an eigth-grade friend might not be appropriate.
Chat it upreport abuse
with other parents of preteens to see how they're dealing.