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Transitioning Your Child From Elementary to Middle School
Lessons from a Former Teacher
Sometimes milestones affect parents more than they do children. I am sure the first day of my child beginning Kindergarten will leave me in a boo-hoo breakfast with friends. Regardless of who gets affected more, it is our role as parents to guide our children through these steps and transitional events.
Let me first begin by stating I am a former 5th grade teacher. I loved this age and I loved this grade. Preparing my students for a new school and a new set of responsibilities was my duty as a teacher. Here are TWO things I told them in the classroom almost every day.
To prepare for middle school….
- You must remain organized – you will be shuffled around from class to class and each teacher will expect work in on time and done correctly.
- You must remind kind – you never know when you will need a friend, be sure to treat everyone with respect – even if you don’t prefer them.
Below is a Guest Post from a Father Watching his two girls transition to Middle School.
The day my kids crossed the stage and left elementary school in the past, I felt their growth for the first time. Oh sure, I had seen them growing for years, but I had not felt it. Now, I was forced to accept that they were about to head to junior high and all the things that came with it. I could not help but start to think of what I was doing during those years and it made me shudder. Not that I was a rebel or anything, but I started growing up rather quickly.
Now my kids are about to do the same thing.
The transition was easy for me and I suppose it will be for them as well. Still, there are some things I can do to ease the process. Below are important tips to help out with this important life stage:
Address the Elephants in the Room
No, I do not think you should take them to the zoo (though many of you would argue Middle School is a Zoo.) Truth is, nobody wants to talk about boys, girls and drugs but they are too important to gloss over. These are the years where those things get introduced most often. Do you want them to learn about it from kids at school or from you? It is better to address some subjects before lies are presented as facts from young teens who really don’t know the truth themselves.
Those are the stakes and you need to discuss it too early rather than too late.
Agree to have open communication
Kids are much more likely to talk with you if you allow them open lines of communication. What does that mean? It means that you listen and allow the to speak. It means you sometimes simply understand… Or when they scream “you just don’t understand” you allow them to explain more. Walls buid when a child grows frustrated over a parent who “knows it all!” It means that you don’t use your conversations as opportunities to interrogate but communicate. Let your child talk and use your parent “super hero powers” to sometimes lead the conversation to allowing them to self-discover.
Once you have that type of communication with your kids, then the rest comes a bit easier.
Note: Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t. Take each time of “don’t” as a time for learning for the next time a transitional conversation occurs.
Talk about their fears
Kids that are headed off to a different level of school are going to have some fears. Some of those fears might be things you are not prepared for too. Sit down and let them talk it out. Sometimes just talking about it helps a great deal. If they are the types of fears you can put to rest, then by all means do so. If they are fears that have to be faced, talk about ways to make that happen. No good accomplishment occurs without a plan.
Review what will be different
Talk to your kids about what they will notice different in middle school. Things like the schedule are a big deal. Changing classes instead of staying in one or two all day is a big deal. With different classrooms, means different teachers and thus organization. Having a calendar or planner will help your child stay organized with due dates.
Talk about peer pressure and the things that come with it. This throws you back into the Open Communication paragraph. Better for you to share the facts than for a peer.
It helps to know what is coming and kids gain confidence when they are not surprised.
In summary, Middle school is the beginning of a whole new era for us parents and our kids at pre-adults. Trust is key and we have to open those lines of discussion. Start now while you have their undivided attention. Fear and Worry will make them want to speak to you more, that might not be the case later. Be sure to speak with your child about the importance of staying organized and treating all individuals with respect! Most importantly, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE! Every new day is a new opportunity.
Find more on Frugal Coupon Living in the Back to School Series.
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