Last week, my son started middle school. It’s a big change for him. Not only is he going to a new school, but he’s doing it in a new town and a new state. Back to school this year has been unlike anything else.
However, we’re getting through it ok. In fact, compared to getting our son through our recent cross-country move, starting middle school hasn’t been that bad — although I’m sure we’re still in store for a misstep or two.
Here are some of the things you can do to help your child adjust to middle school:
Go On a School Tour
Most schools will let you go on a tour beforehand. Call the school and find out when tours are available, and join one. My son was nervous about the idea of moving from class to class, as well as being intimidated by the size of the new school.
However, after going through a tour, he felt much better. Now, a little more than a week in, he feels like a pro.
You can also ask if there is a way to practice with lockers. Many first-time middle school and junior high school students are concerned about dealing with lockers. Many schools will let your child practice working with the lock and opening and closing the locker before school starts. This will help your child adjust to the increased pressure by providing proficiency ahead of time.
Have Your Child Evaluated
This was a big one for us. Since we are moving from another state, we didn’t know where my son stood in terms of academics. There’s nothing worse than a schedule full of classes your child isn’t ready for. So, while I would have liked my son to be in an advanced math class, the reality is that our former state just didn’t provide the same level of education.
An evaluation identified a course of study that would help my son manage the learning curve, providing him with appropriate challenges without leaving him behind. If you aren’t sure of where your child stands, and evaluation can help him or her pick a course of study that make sense, and help your child adjust to the schoolwork better.
Get on a Schedule
One of the best things you can do for your child is to get on a set schedule. This is especially important if you want to be able to manage homework. While you do need a little flexibility in your family’s schedule, you do also want to make sure that things are stable and predictable to some degree.
My son knows that it’s important for him to get his homework done. So, when he gets home from school, the first thing he does is sit down with his homework planner and look over what he’s written in, and when everything’s due. He can do this while eating his after school snack. He gets to unwind a little bit with his snack, and maybe a favorite book, for 30 to 45 minutes.
Then, it’s homework time. We prioritize projects that will take multiple days in relation to what’s due the next day, and he gets to work. Only after his homework is done do we get involved with extracurricular activities like music lessons, Scouting, or sports. Once we’re done with those activities (we try to limit it to two or three activities a week), we have dinner, and he gets ready for bed. If there’s time, he can have a little screen time before another round of reading to help him settle in to bed.
This schedule lets him know what to expect, and it encourages him to manage his time so that he can accomplish the larger homework load he now has.
It will be interesting to see how this works throughout the year, but it’s really a continuation of how we managed things with schoolwork and extracurriculars in the past, so it provides that continuity.
What are you doing to help ease your child’s school transition?