Preparing Your Students for Middle School

by A Guest Author

The transition from elementary to middle school is one that is accompanied by anticipation and anxiety. Students are moved from self-contained classrooms with one or two teachers to an environment where more interaction with peers and teachers is required. The students are also introduced to intensified expectations for academic performance and personal responsibility. Parents and educators can help to ease the transition for students in a variety of ways.

Transition Concerns

The time when a student transitions to middle school is also the time when the student is making the transition from childhood to adolescence. Their relationships at home may become strained as roles and relationships are redefined. This period of academic and personal transition occurring simultaneously has been associated with a decline in academic performance, motivation, and self-perception.

The middle school years are also when students begin to make important decisions regarding academics and career choices; precisely at the same time they may be turned off to all things academic. A rough transition to middle school can negatively affect a student’s performance throughout middle school, and continue through the high school years. This is why a successful transition program is essential.

Attributes of a Successful Transition Program

A successful transition program encourages the partnership of parents and educators in the effort to ease students into their new academic environment. The program must be sensitive to the anxieties that arise as a result of moving to a new setting, and recognize that becoming comfortable in a new environment is a process and not a single event. Successful programs will establish a realistic timeline for the transition process, and provide several activities that involve students, parents, and staff members from both schools.

Strategies for Parents

The transition process is not just something that occurs at school. Parents can help their child at home by giving them tasks to perform that will assist the development of organizational skills and personal responsibility. Parents should also become educated about the needs and concerns of young adolescents so they can be better prepared to offer advice. Children should be encouraged to try new activities and learn to regard failure as a necessary part of life.

Parents must also be involved in the academic aspect of the transition. Accompanying students to orientations and campus tours is a great way to not only show support but also become knowledgeable about school policies and procedures. A knowledgeable parent can help ease a student’s anxieties through discussion. Parents should also maintain open communication with their student and be aware of the signs of depression and/or anxiety.

Educator Responsibilities

Educators in both schools have a responsibility to help make the transition as smooth as possible for all students. Teachers from the elementary school should collaborate with those from the middle school to discuss the new curriculum students will be facing upon entering middle school. The curriculum, grading strategies and other expectations that will be encountered should be discussed with the transitioning students. Success is more likely if the students are aware of what will be expected of them in the new academic environment. Students should be taught time management skills and be provided with activities that will better help them to understand and cope with the challenges of transition.

These strategies are only a few that can be employed to ease the academic transition. Every school is different and should employ the strategies that best the needs of the students in their particular district.

About the Author

This article was written by Lindsey Davidson, a teacher herself. At the beginning of the school year she gives her students custom pencils that display the school's name so the children can show school pride throughout the year.

This post was written by A Guest Author

This post was written by a guest author. If you have high quality, useful information to share with students, send us an email or click Write For Us to learn more. And in case you're wondering - yes, you can promote yourself in this fancy author byline.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Marylin Kalka August 1, 2012 at 5:35 am

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Pan Kiev October 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm

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Chad Agrawal October 24, 2012 at 12:02 am

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