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Helping Elementary Students Transition to Middle School

After feeling like big fish in a small pond, new middle schoolers can become lost in the ocean of middle school. The middle school transition is one that many schools take quite seriously. This can be a make-it-or-break-it situation for these fragile kids who need to meet their academic expectations while dealing with high-level social development issues. Easing the transition starts with a successful elementary school transition program in the last grade of elementary school.

Teacher-Student Connections Are Important

Despite behavior suggesting that middle schoolers do not want close relationships with adults anymore, those relationships are more important than ever. However, these relationships fill new needs as teachers ease the middle school transition by building confidence and a sense of security in kids who are headed to an uncertain situation. A successful elementary school will have a program in place for fifth graders as they prepare for middle school. This will include a tour of the new school, a meeting with their new teachers and a navigation class for tricky obstacles like locker combinations and personal responsibility.

Preparing Parents for the Middle School Transition

One thing that can be very successful for middle schoolers is a program for their parents. Parents are worried about their children during this transition. Each parent remembers the awkwardness of middle school, whether fondly or with trepidation. Providing a place and time for parents of transitioning middle school students to discuss their concerns and dispel myths can be great for their soon-to-be middle schooler.

Physical and Social Changes Are Normal

Despite their anxieties, physical and social changes in children 11-14 are completely normal. Most children adjust quickly and perform normally in middle school, which spans a time period when students are not yet fully adult but are also no longer children — hence the term “middle” school. Everyone must go through this transition period to emerge as socially contributive adults. The best mantra for teachers, parents and children going through the middle school transition is “the only way out is through.”

The balance for middle schoolers is between letting go and holding on throughout the experience. Parents and teachers need to maintain flexibility and perseverance throughout the middle school transition to best help all children succeed.

Learn more about the LSUS online M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction program.


EdSource: Taking Aim at the ‘Middle School Plunge’ with a Positive Culture

NECN: Transitioning to Middle School

CNN: Awkward! The Tough Transition to Middle School

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