Understanding the Changes
How can you prepare your child with LD for the transition to middle school? The first step is to understand the changes he will be going through, and how his LD may affect his adjustment.
The Differences Are...
In middle school, your child will have to get used to:
A larger school with more students Different teachers for each subject and less individual attention More homework and more emphasis on grades
She also may be entering early adolescence, a time when the following occurs:
Peers become more important. She wants more independence. She expresses her individuality.
Students with LD often enter middle school with difficulties in the following areas:
Problems organizing homework and belongings Difficulty following directions and completing assignments Reading that is below grade level and poor spelling
The combination of these factors may make the transition to middle school stressful.
What You Can Do
Here's how to minimize your child's anxiety this spring:
Reflect on his elementary experiences. Prepare a summary that includes information on his learning strengths and weaknesses, what difficulties he has with homework, and teachers that helped him the most and why.
Meet the middle-school guidance counselor. Invite your child along and encourage him to ask questions and to discuss his learning needs. Bring a copy of the summary. What teachers will he have and why? What will he be learning and how is the information presented?
Visit the school. Can your child spend a half-day visiting the school and "shadowing" a first year middle-school student? Could he meet some of his teachers at that time?
At the start of middle school:
Revisit the school. A few days before school starts, visit the school to locate your child's homeroom and locker.
Meet with the teachers. You and your child should meet with the "team" of teachers. Discuss her learning needs. Provide a copy of the summary and information on where and when teachers can contact you.
During the year:
Attend "open houses." Although time is often limited in the classrooms, make a point of re-introducing yourself to each teacher. Attend other informational meetings offered at the school or by your town's special education department.
Don't hesitate to call. Call the teachers or the guidance counselor if you sense that your child is having difficulty in school.