Middle School Adjustment

Read ideas on helping a child adjust to middle school.
Do you have any transition tips to help my child adjust to middle school?
Here are some steps you can do to make her transition easier.

  1. Don't create unnecessary stress about the transition. Successful students need to know that the same practices that made them successful in elementary school will make them successful as middle-school students, too. Focus on what will remain consistent.

  2. Begin now to help your child expand his peer contacts and practice good social skills. Too often parents want to keep a child with former classmates because it seems easier than making new friends. This limits a child's growth experience.

  3. Begin letting your child make decisions about how to spend and use his time (within limits of course) so that he can learn how to build play time or free time, homework, TV, lessons, sports, and social time into each week. Balance is the key!

  4. Learn how to listen and not take over a situation. Yes, it is often easier to just do it yourself as the parent, but your child will never learn how to solve problems with confidence if you don't let him. Helping your child review the options, and evaluate the pros and cons of the decisions, is critical.

  5. Build open communication with your child. Even if your child tells your everything now, that will change. Being a good listener keeps these channels open.

  6. Learn how to communicate with the school. Identify who your contacts will be and practice making connections with the new system and new people in your child's school day. Knowing the ropes will reduce your anxiety.

  7. Don't be afraid to volunteer at the school to see your child in action. You will quickly recognize the wide range of student differences that characterizes the middle-school years. Even the child who pleads with his parent not to come to school or volunteer usually feels proud of Mom and Dad for being there.
Judith Lee Ladd is a former president of the American School Counselor Association, a national organization of K-12 and post-secondary school counselors.

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