Is your child going to transition to Middle School? Does this send chills down your spine? It is hard not to recollect our own Middle School experiences and wonder if our children can survive this time. Here are 7 Reasons why the transition to Middle School is scary and how you can help your own child with their fears during this time.
Transition to Middle School Fears
1. Different Teachers – In elementary school, most children are assigned to a homeroom teacher that they are with all day long, with the exception of some specialist classes. They get to know this teacher and grow a deep connection with them. In Middle School, they suddenly have multiple teachers and they have to navigate multiple relationships with them. Different teachers means different expectations, communication styles, and personalities. What if you had 5 different bosses throughout the day that you were trying to submit work to?
How Parents Can Help: Stay positive about all of your child’s teachers. They are bound to have a teacher that they struggle with, and this is your time to help your child learn to adapt and advocate for themselves. Help them determine what they can do to make that relationship better. Perhaps they need to communicate differently, or organize themselves in a different way. Help your child come up with a plan and encourage them to be independent while implementing the plan.
2. More Homework – Generally in Middle School you see an increase in homework. This is in direct correlation to multiple teachers. Every teacher is passionate about their subject and wants students to engage in that subject every day.
How Parents Can Help – Time management is a skill kids need to practice. As parents we hate to see them fail, yet this is one area where we may need to let children fail to really understand what they need to do to improve. With my own child, it took almost a year of trial and error before she realized which organization methods worked the best for her, and how she needed to manage her own time. This age is an age of craving independence. Let them fail, support them, and offer suggestions on what they may try next. Don’t tell them what to do, just be there to support their efforts.
3. Bell Schedule – Believe it or not, this is a huge stress for children. Suddenly they need to be somewhere at a specific time. And even if they have plenty of time to get from one class to another, there is always a fear that they may be late. This often causes anxiety and leads to children rushing from one class with fear of getting a tardy.
How Parents Can Help – Don’t put any extra pressure on your child about getting a “tardy”. Reassure them that this happens, and help them learn how to advocate for themselves if they need more time.
4. Lockers – Ugh! This might be the first time your child has a locker that they need to visit in between those tight bells. And they might even have a combination lock that they need to learn to use. This can quite simply be at the top of a list for fears in Middle School.
How Parents Can Help – Buy a lock for home and have your child start practicing the rhythm of combination locks…3 turns clockwise, 2 counter clockwise and then 1 clockwise. Once they get the feel for a combination lock, remembering the correct numbers will be a piece of cake. If your child has special needs and needs an accommodation, don’t forget that you can ask for one for their locker. Combination locks aren’t for everyone!
5. Bigger Building – In many communities, Middle School is physically a larger building than the elementary buildings. If your community is large enough, you may have multiple elementary schools that feed into the middle school.
How Parents Can Help – Get into the building before school starts. Go to an open house, have your child walk through their schedule so they know where they have to walk and when. Also, try to get a map of the building and your child can practice their routes on the map at home. Don’t forget to practice other key locations such as the cafeteria, bathrooms, gym, pick up/drop off locations, media center, main office and the nurse’s office.
6. More Kids – Bigger buildings means more people, and more kids means new friendships. During these years, children are doing a lot of self-discovery. This includes changes in friendships that may have been solid since Kindergarten. They are trying new experiences and at times growing while leaving others behind.
How Parents Can Help – Don’t question everything your child is doing with friends. Be prepared to hug them when they need comfort, but also encourage them to try new friendships. At times, they may feel lost and alone, as most kids do during this age. They will find their crew eventually. It just takes time to work itself out. So as a parent, stay out of the drama (even though sometimes, it is better than a soap opera) and encourage healthy friendships.
7. Puberty – What a time for all kids. There is so much that is physically going on with children in their bodies and chemically they have many changes in their brains as well. They are trying to navigate all of their emotions and accepting their bodies as they change. This leads to low self esteem and self consciousness.
How Parents Can Help – Understand how your child may be feeling during this time. They may have stresses that seem small to you as an adult, but for them, it is their world. Be patient, and supportive. Encourage them to express their emotions in a safe way to you and be prepared to listen. You won’t be able to fix everything, but sometimes all they need is a supportive, listening ear.
If you have a child that is nervous about attending Middle School, one of the best ways you can prepare is to connect with either the principal or a school counselor at the Middle School. They can definitely tell you what are the most common fears for your specific Middle School and offer suggestions on how you can help prepare your child. It is never too early to reach out and start creating that connection with staff. They are there to support your child.
We are here to help you support your child. If you need any help with making plans or helping your child be independent with the transition to middle school, contact one of our coaches and we would be happy to work with you.