Making the transition to middle school can be taxing
Transitioning from elementary school to middle school can be a tenuous and taxing process especially if you and your tween are ill prepared. What follows is a list of the top ten tips to help parents ensure that their tween’s transition is a smooth one.
1.) The number one concern raised by middle schoolers is locker anxiety. Specifically tweens worry first about finding their lockers and next about opening and closing them. You can ease your tween’s anxiety by encouraging him to practice opening and closing a combination lock at home.
2.) Learning the lay of the land can quell concerns. Most tweens worry a lot about their ability to find their classes. Encourage your tweens to plot their daily course on a school map before school starts. If possible take your tween on a trial run prior to the first day of school.
3.) Organization encourages optimal performance. The secret to success in middle school is quite simple: kids who are naturally neat and organized have an edge over their classmates. If your tween struggles in this area, a hands on parenting approach is a must. You can start by overseeing notebook organization. Frequent binder checks can be a helpful measure.
4.) What she doesn’t know can hurt her (at least academically). Put plainly, a planner is required. Encourage your tween to carefully write down all her assignments in a daily planner. Many schools post homework on their websites. Direct your tween to habitually compare these postings with what she has written down in her planner. Random homework checks are recommended to ensure that your tween is keeping pace.
5.) If you have some doubts, check it out. Trust your parental intuition. If you are concerned that your tween is struggling with the transition, don’t hesitate to talk with your tween. Developmentally tweens are egocentric by nature. This can sometimes translate into an “I can do it on my own” attitude even at times when he could really use a hand. Searching out collateral sources of information such as guidance counselors, teachers, and even coaches can be helpful.
6.) Your tween can tolerate (and sometimes dish out) more mean than you may realize. Tweens can be tough on each other. They often feel unsure of themselves and worry what others think about them. Rest assured however, most tweens have thick skins and short memories.
7.) The social scene can be serious business. It is in middle school that social cliques can form and a natural social pecking order seems to emerge. In middle school tweens begin to try on labels in an effort to define individual identity. As a parent your role becomes less active. While you cannot sort out social situations for your tween, you can and should however, listen. Tweens need opportunities to talk. Let her use you as a sounding board and she is likely to get it all sorted out on her own.
8.) Your tween regards you as a reflection of him. Tweens worry about what others think about them. As your tween becomes more attuned to the world at large, he also becomes more concerned about how others may view him. From a developmental standpoint egocentrism drives such beliefs that the entire world is watching his every move. This may cause him to carefully evaluate everything you do and say in his presence especially if he is with his peers.
9.) Now is not the time to assume, be sure to ask. It may feel as if your tween seems less interested in your input. You are however, the most important resource for her. You may believe that all is going well with your tween because you do not see signs indicating elsewise. Your tween however, may not offer information about the real deal unless you ask directly. The key to talking with your tween is in how you ask, not what. If for example you really want to know how her days are going refrain from simply asking, “how was your day?” To your tween this can be an overwhelming and heavily loaded question. If you want specific information, ask specific questions. Instead of asking how her day was for example you can ask: “Did anything funny happen at lunch today?”
10.) Transitions take time, patience, and partnership. Transitioning to middle school is a big step. While your tween may adjust quicker than you could have imagined, the transition for parents can sometimes take longer. Give yourself time to adjust. Remain patient with your tween as he begins to explore the outside world. By providing the proper balance of guidance, support, and encouragement to your tween, you create a strong partnership that will last a lifetime.