Making the Move from School to School Get tips from parents (and kids) whove been there.
Transitioning from one school to another can be a bumpy ride. Whether your child is moving up from elementary to middle school or switching to a new district, many of your concerns may be similar. We asked readers to share their anxieties as well as their advice on what works.
What Could Happen
Your child may slide into her new school without a hitch, but its more likely that shell experience a few bumps along the way. Prepare yourself – and your kids – for challenges like these.
It hasnt been an easy transition for either of my children – no recesses, all new kids, changing classes, and especially other kids calling them names.
-Ann R., Lincoln, Illinois
My most difficult adjustment was when two of my three daughters went through middle school. Each had been an excellent student in elementary school, but decided it was «not cool» to be a good student in middle school.
Our son struggled for his first semester of middle school with insecurity, anxiety, and bullies(he has ADHD).
-Susan Z., Lake Villa, Illinois
Whether its practicing locker combinations, touring the unfamiliar building beforehand, or reaching out to helpful staff and peers, parents talk about the strategies that saved them.
There is no such thing as «no homework» in middle school. I learned to email my sons teachers to clarify any misconceptions about assignments and due dates. In this way, I was still keeping tabs on him without too much uncool embarrassment.
-Kim S., Pembroke Pines, Florida
Our middle school provided hallway monitors with keys to assist the students until everyone became efficient in remembering their combinations and opening their lockers.
I encouraged my kids to develop relationships outside of their classes and continue them after the other kids move away or graduate to another school. This way when they get to middle school or high school they will know others who may be of help to them.
Know your students school. Start with the teachers: volunteer to help in any way. Volunteer in the school office too – this way you get to know the administrators. Encourage your child to invite friends from school over to get to know them, too.
-Ruthie H., Austin, Texas
My advice to parents is to just keep working on counselors and teachers until you see some action. Teachers are very busy people. Also, I had my boys join some sports teams outside of school to meet new kids. I had my 8th grader get involved in yearbook so that he could meet kids in a smaller setting. That is what worked best!
I made arrangements to have a «veteran» 7th grader walk my daughter through the school building. She also gave her some tips on certain classes as they walked along. The first day of school was terrific for my daughter as she was confident and helpful to the others who were lost and scared!
-Diana B., Erie, Pennsylvania
I have learned to listen to and trust my children and not worry about the small stuff. Sometimes what makes them happy is the most important thing.
-Karen S., Fort Wayne, Indiana
My son visited the middle school during summer school to get better acquainted.
-Sabrina J., San Lorenzo, California
My advice is to know your children, really know them. One of the best things Ive done is drive my kids to and from school: 20 minutes a day with no phone, no radio, no video games, no computers, no interruptions. My children can talk about themselves and I can listen. Thats one of the most important gifts a parent can give to their kids: simply listen.
-Brenda W., Westwood, Massachussetts
Our school has several outdoor activities planned for 7th graders before the school year starts. Junior- and senior-year students from the high school volunteer.
The surprising news is that parents are often more anxious about transitions than their children are!
My first son was small for his age, so I was worried that he would be picked on. But he wasnt. After that, I didnt worry so much about my two other children.
When my son entered the 6th grade at the middle school, I did not feel as though he was ready to be in school with a bunch of teenagers. He was not only ready, but also he told me he would be fine and that he did not have any worries. He was even excited about the whole locker thing. I, on the other hand, was an emotional mess for the first few days. Once I saw how he was adjusting I relaxed; he loves middle school and he has adjusted really well.
At first, the administration of the middle school did not want to create an honors class for the 6th grade. But since the parents were very vocal, the administration created the same program that they had in place for 7th and 8th graders. I was concerned at first, but my daughter thrived with the academic challenges, the availability of sports and clubs to choose from, and the interaction with students from diverse backgrounds that she was sheltered from during her elementary years.
-Barbara W. Matawan, New Jersey
My younger son will start 5th grade next year, but with his older brother on his side he is not worried about anything. I am the one whos worried that my boys are growing up faster than I want them to.
My son was fine. His transition into junior high was harder for me than him!