Moving on from elementary school to middle school is a big transition for kids. Harder classes, bigger schools, more kids, and new social situations are just a few things they will face. It's likely to be a bit scary, not only for our kids, but for us as well. Thankfully, there are some things we can do to help our children be prepared for this often challenging time in their lives.
1. Talk about the upcoming changes.
Communication is key to everything. Talk to your kids about what they expect middle school will be like, what they've heard about it, and anything they might be concerned about. Kids talk to each other and often share misinformation, which can make things even scarier.
2. Attend open house and other school events before school starts.
Our schools host an open house called "maze day" where the kids pick up their schedules, take their photos for school IDs, and the kids check out the school. Find out what events your child's school hosts prior to school starting and do your best to attend.
3. Take their class schedule and go check out the school together.
Walk around the campus, if you can, and find each of their classes so they can plan their daily route. Find the bathrooms, the school office, library, gym, and cafeteria. If they have a locker assigned already, find it as well.
4. Practice getting to school and plan for emergencies.
Middle school is often the time when children start getting to school on their own. Practice this several times and also discuss what to do in case of certain situations or emergencies. Will you be driving your child or carpooling with other families? Make the drive at least once so you can have a better idea of timing and best drop off/pick up locations.
5. Start the new daily routine at home.
Middle school usually has a different start time than elementary school. Will your child need to wake up earlier? Be sure to take this into consideration and start the routine a few days before school starts so your child isn't rudely awoken on the first day and has to rush and head to school feeling stressed to begin with.
6. Plan a special activity with friends.
Getting together with some friends your child might not have seen much, or even at all, over the summer can help ease those first day nerves and give everyone some much-needed fun right before the big day!
7. Reassure them.
Remind your child that everyone is starting their first day of school together. Everyone is making adjustments and experiencing new things. And remind them that you are there to support them with whatever they need.
Change can be scary - for all of us! But with some preparation, planning, and communicating, it can be a lot easier. I hope these tips help make your family's transition to middle school easier and less stressful. You've got this!
Jennifer Hill is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Fremont-Newark-Union City, Calif.