to Middle School
By Monica A. Consalvo
move to middle school can be tough even for the best of students.
Their educational environment will change dramatically. Students
will have more teachers and they are expected to take far more responsibility
for their schoolwork. Students also face changing classes, operating
lockers, dealing with older students, and handling new grading standards
Bachety, mother of sixth grade boy at Sayville Middle School, has
some helpful advice for the locker situation. "Prepare your
child by bringing them to the school before the summer ends and
trying out their locker. This will reduce a major source of stress
that can be eliminated simply by practicing. If that's not possible,
buy a combination lock to practice with at home. The concept is
Flanagan-Smith, LMSW, School Social Worker at Sagamore Middle School
states that in her experiences with children of this age group the
transition from elementary to middle school is a different experience
for each child. "
some children they are eager, looking forward to the new found independence
while others may be anxious or worried. Most children worry about
finding their classrooms, getting to class on time, using lockers,
keeping up with the academic workload and making new friends."
the same time, they are going through the physical and emotional
changes of puberty and striving to become more independent.
first few weeks of middle school are the most challenging. The entire
"team" needs to be supportive to ensure a successful transition.
Most schools provide students and parents with an orientation program.
At Port Jefferson, we have a welcoming barbeque; while at Sachem,
Ms. Flanagan-Smith states they conduct tours and provide students
with a questions/answer period with current middle school teachers.
These events help all students, especially those who are experiencing
anxiety and apprehension about what to expect.
a middle school educator, I believe strongly in establishing a time
and place for homework that is free of distractions and is equipped
with the appropriate supplies. Children will benefit from the structure,
parents will see the benefits too, because their child will have
less stress, anxiety and frustration toward school. Mrs. Bachety,
says, "A child can display their nervousness like adults in
a seemingly unrelated way. Picture yourself starting a new job or
preparing for a blind date. You think about it for days, if not
weeks, in advance. You might not realize you are nervous but maybe
you are easily distracted, or not able to listen as well, or maybe
you even snap at something somebody did or say when normally it
wouldn't bother you. As a parent you should expect that this might
happen and offer your presence, a sense of understanding and just
be available. Your presence is often calming in itself."
encourage you to set up an organizational system that utilizes color.
For example, assign each subject a color and have all materials
for that subject follow the pattern. If RED is for English then
your child should have a red folder and red binder/notebook. When
your child is at his/her locker at the end of their busy day and
are ready to pull their work to take home it will be easy to remember
to pull all their "red" materials if they know they have
Charles Russo, superintendent of East Moriches School district states,
"The transition from elementary school to middle school can
be less stress for students and parents alike by instilling strong
organizational skills. The most problematic situation that occurs
for entering middle scholars is the transitions between classes
and the need to maintain note taking and assignments amongst all
the courses. Strong organizational skills will greatly assist the
child and make a parent sleep a little better at night!"
Students should also learn how to use an agenda. This skill will
help your child during their school years and future careers. The
agenda provides a "clear" assigned place to write down
assignments, upcoming tests and long-range projects. Each afternoon
your child should preview the assignments that they have to do and
get the tough tasks out of the way first. Helping your child plan
out long-term projects with a monthly calendar is great technique
the first day of school, students often ask teachers what should
they expect. Dr. Russo says, "Students can expect more freedom
from rules, however with the additional relaxing of procedures and
rules comes increased personal responsibility. Middle school is
all about growing up from being a child to becoming a young adult!"
Some worry about not having a friend in class, or worse not having
a friend in the cafeteria. " Parents can provide positive support
by reassuring their child that they are not alone in their fears.
Role playing ways to make new friends can help ease their anxiety,"
replied Ms. Flanagan-Smith
More academic work will be one of the biggest challenges your child
will encounter however, "Parents can reassure students that
they will encounter more opportunities for friendships and participation
in clubs and activities", states Ms. Flanagan-Smith. These
experiences will take the focus away from the academic changes and
allow students to see the advantages that middle school can offer
September begins to approach, parents and students alike begin to
hit the stores for school supplies. What should I buy?, is the big
question. Some schools provide a list of supplies that your child's
future teacher would prefer, but others simply send you out to fish
in a land full of way too many choices. As I stated before I believe
strongly in color-coding your child's supplies to help achieve organizational
"nirvana". Here are a list of basic supplies that every
child should have, and while you're in the store, pick up some extras
for the late Sunday afternoon in March when you child says, "
My printer just ran out of ink!"
Pens and pencils (you can never have too much)
1 inch binders (flexible kind, they come in an assortment of colors
Dividers to separate sections of the binder
Supplies for projects (oak tag, colored pencils, construction paper,
Computer printer cartridge and paper
Tip: Do not wait till the first day of school! The stores are way
too crowded and run out of the "good" supplies.
that your child has the supplies they need the next big issue to
tackle is the shifting role of parent involvement. Parents still
need to play a large role in the education of their middle school
student. You do want your child to develop independence but careful
monitoring is still necessary. Make sure you attend Back to School
Night, this provides you with the opportunity to meet your child's'
teachers face-to-face and gain an understanding of the class requirements
are you ready? The starting of school will be here before we know
it. Remember to ask questions, stay involved and be prepared, not
only with the extra school supplies but also for the questions you
never expected your middle school student to ask you.
information presented on this site is intended solely as a general
educational aid, and is neither medical nor healthcare advice for
any individual problem, nor a substitute for medical or other professional
advice and services from a qualified healthcare provider familiar
with your unique circumstances. Always seek the advice of your physician
or other qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical
condition and before starting any new treatment.