As with any stage and rite of passage of childhood, communication between parent and child is crucial. Staying connected to your child’s school and his or her friends may be an important component to parenting during the middle school years as he transitions to middle school. Parents and students should understand that middle school students have more personal responsibilities than elementary school students do. Students will learn to change classes several times a day and have as many as six different teachers. Students will be responsible for memorizing their class schedule, carrying their own school supplies, and maintaining appropriate behavior. Consequences for poor behavior of middle school students may be more severe than younger students experience in earlier grades.
Students will have to make many adjustments to middle school. Even though most middle schools have only three grade levels, they are usually considerably larger than elementary schools, which house students of many grade levels. This means each grade may have hundreds of students from many different elementary schools. Sixth grade students may have classes with very few of the classmates they may have counted on seeing in years past.
Parents can be a constructive sounding board for their kids before and after the transition. Encourage your preteen to come to you if he or she is having a problem. Your kids will need you to be a good listener more than ever before.
“Kids are often anxious over who is going to be in their classes or who they’re going to eat with at lunch,” says Diana Musich, principal at Cornwall Central Middle School. “It is important for you, as a parent, to explain to them that everyone is a little nervous on the first day, even the teachers, and that there are plenty of people that are there to help them – yourself included.”
Louise Hajjar Diamond has been a guidance counselor since 1990 in Florida. She can be reached at www.counselorsclips.com.