It’s your child’s biggest transition since kindergarten: Suddenly, they are ready to leave the world of elementary school for middle school — a world filled with new teachers, a new schedule, and new social pressures. We know these changes can be overwhelming, so we talked to staff and parents about this transition. Here’s some of their advice on setting scholars up for success.
In middle school, everything seems new — the building, the classmates, and most importantly, the teachers. Although the teachers might have been new to my scholars, that didn’t mean they had to start from scratch getting to know them. I called my elementary school teachers and asked them to speak with my scholars’ middle school teachers so they could get a sense of their history and who they are, and I found it so helpful. They built relationships quickly with my scholars and understood them even better than they had before, which really comforted my scholars and eased the transition. — Beverly Persad, mom to 5th and 6th graders at SA Lafayette MS
From day one in middle school, each of my kids was assigned an advisor with whom I could talk to about expectations and progress. Before school started, my son’s advisor called me to see if I had any questions or concerns. It was clear to me that we were on the same team, and I felt so supported. I initiate meetings with my kids’ advisors and teachers at the start of each semester as well as any time I have an issue. They always make it work, even if we have to talk at 6:45 am before I go into work. We are partners, and because they have the same open-door policy in middle school that they did in elementary school, both of my kids had a seamless transition to fifth grade. — Jill Cysner, mom to 5th and 7th grade scholars at SA Bed-Stuy Middle School
I can’t stress this enough — attend the open house of the middle school closest to you, as well as the other preview events. This year, in place of in-person events, Success Academy will be holding webinars where you can meet your principal and learn more about middle school, and I encourage you to attend! When I went to the tour last year with my scholar, the staff was so enthusiastic and welcoming. Getting to meet middle school staff and hear them talk about their experience took away so much of my uncertainty and comforted me. It was also important to me to bring my daughter because I wanted her to have a bit of ownership over the process and learn for herself. My daughter loved the idea of getting to learn about coding, and that made her so excited to attend BSMS. The fact that she knew that up front gave her a sense of belonging I don’t think she would have had otherwise. — Kate Davis, mom to 5th grade scholar at BSMS
Remember to RSVP for our Virtual Middle School Open Houses in January, and be on the lookout for more events! Also, be sure to follow your school’s Facebook and Instagram to stay connected and updated on their latest news and events.
I know all SA elementary schoolers worked on Chromebooks for remote learning, but the transition to more writing overall in middle school is still a big adjustment, and your child’s fluency and comfort with technology can really affect their grades. My son was a really slow typist, so assignments would take hours. I gave him extra practice with a typing program, and now he types even faster than I do! The familiarity with technology and typing skills he developed reduced his homework time significantly and gave us so much time and sanity back. If fourth grade families take advantage of this time, it will really give them a leg up if and when they attend an SA middle school. — Beatriz Escobar, mom to 5th grader at BSMS
A big part of transitioning to middle school is learning how to become independent and take personal responsibility for your work. Learning how to be organized is crucial, and practicing at home is the perfect opportunity to build great organizational habits! Encourage your scholar to make systems that work for them — like where they keep their textbooks and homework, and how they set up their room and workspace so that when they return to their school building and have their own personal space (like a locker!), they’ll already have practice. This helps kids be more individually responsible not only academically, but personally as well!
Finally, I’d recommend checking out parentteenconnect.org. It features teens and their parents in conversation about real issues, like screen time, independence, and responsibility, and can help parents know they’re not alone in navigating these changes! — Rachel Duvall Holleran, Associate of Scholar Crisis Support and Prevention