Helping Students Transition to Middle School

Helping Students Transition to Middle SchoolPreparing for middle school is an important step to a lifetime of learning.  While elementary school puts more focus on the student, and high school focuses on the skills, middle school is when a student will decide the importance of education. Middle-school will teach students not only the facts, but also how those facts and skills will relate to real life.  Students will learn to become abstract thinkers, as well, and find creative outlets to relate the skills they learn to other areas of academics.

Preparing for middle school over the summer can be a challenge.  The transition to middle school is different for each student.  Some will find themselves in a new location, meeting new people, having new experiences, and getting to seek new activities. They will have more teachers than before, which may be scary for your student, but you can assure them of one thing, it’s a fresh start for them and everyone else who will be making the same transition to middle school.

Starting in middle school, students will be taught to question the world around them, they will be challenged to answer open-ended questions, and they will need to tie together what they are learning in multiple subject areas.  Therefore, helping students transition to middle school over the summer is a great step to making it a little easier for them.

Here’s how parents can help.

How to Prepare for Middle School Over the Summer

1) Prepare your student for math and science.

Give your children the opportunity to become familiar with a calculator.  By doing so, they can learn the process of graphing, statistics, and scientific notations.  They should be exposed to probability and learn how to unravel complex word problems.

For a parent, this could seem like a daunting task.  Seeking outside sources, such as enrichment programs would be a good way to alleviate some of the stress and allow your student to become better prepared.

2) Prepare your student for language arts.

The transition to middle school will mean more detailed writing and reading. When preparing for language arts, have your student read at home. If he or she does not read much already, reading every day can make a big difference to vocabulary, comprehension, and writing skills. And in this case, the type of book is less important than the simple act of reading. Here are some tips to encourage your child to read more.

If your child already likes to read, that’s wonderful! Take advantage of it and introduce him or her to nonfiction such as biographies. Have them conduct interviews or explore topics that interest them. Expand on that reading enjoyment to broaden their horizons and challenge their thought processes.

Exposing students to nonfiction not only will help them when doing research projects but also introduces them to how to read footnotes and bibliographies.

3) Prepare your student for history and social studies.

Over the summer, you could expose your child to world events through different perspectives. You could also teach your child how to use technology to find credible sources, use the library for primary source documents, and have the child practice writing about current events. Gaining the knowledge will prepare your child for assignments that will require research on historical and current events in a global society that they may not have been exposed to before.  Having your student read historical fiction or history books to familiarize themselves with past and discuss it with them.

4) Teach your child self-advocacy.

While having your student prepare for the transition to middle school academically is vital, knowing how to advocate for him or herself is one of the most important skills a student can develop. Speaking up and asking questions are important lifelong skills that teach students to control their own learning and seek out the help they need if it’s not already provided.

Therefore, when your student has questions about homework, encourage him or her to seek the answers from the teacher or to research it independently. Resisting the urge to give the answers immediately is difficult, but the benefits are much greater. And, of course, you can still help once those other resources are exhausted.

5) Help your child take positive risks.

One of the hardest things for parents is to see their student fail at a task or a goal. As a result, it’s natural for parents to try to minimize the child’s risk of failure. For example, parents might discourage a child from trying out for a team that they think is beyond the child’s reach, or they might go in the other direction and take over the child’s training to ensure success.

While offering support is essential, make sure that the child is responsible for his or her own success even if that means that failure is more likely. Allowing your student to experience failure and then cope with the consequences can encourage him or her to make changes and grow throughout the school year.

6)  Enroll your child in an after-school enrichment program.

An enrichment program could help your child build foundational skills and critical thinking skills that will prepare them for more difficult tasks.   A Grade Ahead

There is no doubt that middle school can be a difficult transition.   The growth and development of your student over the next three years of middle school is going to be a rollercoaster full of ups and downs.  Both emotions and interests will change, but being there and supporting your child can provide stability. Following these tips for helping students transition to middle school is a good start,   and keeping an open line of communication and having a positive attitude about this new experience will help do the rest.

What helped most with your student’s transition to middle school? Tell us in the comments!

Author: Pam Crum, Lead Teacher at A Grade Ahead

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