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Preparing for Middle School

By — American School Counselor Association
Updated on Jul 6, 2010

Transitioning from elementary to middle school brings many questions and concerns for both parents and students. Moving up to middle or junior high school can be both scary and exciting. Parents can help their preteens prepare for this monumental transition by gathering information and staying involved in their child's education.

As with any stage and rite of passage of childhood, communication between parent and child is crucial. Staying connected to your child's school and his or her friends may be an important component to parenting during the middle school years. Here are some ideas for parents to help their child's matriculation process from elementary school a success.

Visit the School

If possible, get a feel for your child's middle school before his or her enrollment. Most middle schools offer an orientation for its in-coming students and their parents. A phone call or meeting with a guidance counselor or an administrator may also be helpful and will give parents a chance to ask questions about classes and scheduling. You may even request a tour of the school with your child.

Whenever possible, registration should be completed well before the first week of school. Last minute registrations may result in poor elective class choices or even missing their first day of school.

Discuss expected changes

Parents and students should understand that middle school students have more personal responsibilities than elementary school students do. Students will learn to change classes several times a day and have as many as six different teachers. Students will be responsible to memorize their class schedule, carry their own school supplies, and maintain appropriate behavior. Consequences for poor behavior of middle school students may be more severe than younger students experience in earlier grades.

Students will have to make many adjustments to middle school. Even though most middle schools have only three grade levels, they are usually considerably larger then elementary schools, which house students of many grade levels. This means each grade may have hundreds of students from many different elementary schools. Sixth grade students may have classes with very few of the classmates they may have counted on seeing in years past. Parents can be a constructive sounding board for their kids before and after the transition. Encourage your preteen to come to you if he or she is having a problem. Your kids will need you to be a good listener more than ever before.

Talk to your child about the opportunities he or she will have to excel during the middle school years. Students will have the chance to select their elective courses and participate in various clubs and sports. Encourage your child to expand his or her personal skills and talents. Students may learn to play an instrument in the school band, play a sport or run for a student council office. Middle school is about developing socially and emotionally as well as academically. Encourage your child to make the most out of middle school.

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