Middle School Transition
“I can’t believe my child is going into sixth grade!” a friend and fellow school counselor exclaimed. It’s true…and if you are a parent of one of the 5,300 rising sixth-graders in Virginia Beach City Public Schools then I am sure you are repeating the exact same thing. Well, hold on parents, it’s about to be an interesting three year ride!
Here are some things that you can do to help make the move to middle school a smooth transition for your former fifth-grader.
How Middle School is Different from Elementary School
Helping Your Child Manage Stress
The fear of the unknown and Urban Myths, like getting shoved into a locker, are sure to loom in the head of your soon-to-be sixth-grader. Helping to dispel myths be having a candid conversation about what they think middle school will be like will help to alleviate some of the stress that your student has. Ensuring that your student gets plenty of sleep, eats well and carves out time for homework and other social activities will also help with organizational skills. Encourage your child to make plans with a friend to connect with before or after school, if they are not in any of the same classes. That way, they can share and compare and contrast stories and experiences during that first week of school. And don’t forget that planner!
How to Foster a Sense of Belonging
Middle school is a great time to develop social skills. There are all kinds of clubs, sports and activities for your student to become involved in and explore interests. This is also an excellent time for your child to meet new people and make friends that can carry them into high school and beyond.
Role of the Middle School Counselor
In middle school the school counselor functions pretty much the same way as they did in elementary school. However, the school counselor plays a bigger role in the academic and career development of your child, while still tending to the social/emotional needs. Middle school counselors assist with classroom guidance lessons, career exploration activities, course selection, academic and career planning for high school, explanation of credit bearing courses, parent/teacher conferences, etc. More importantly, it is vital that as a parent you know your child’s school counselor. Middle school can be a developmentally difficult and awkward time for children and parents alike; added family stressors like divorce, death, deployment and job loss can be overwhelming to the middle school student. A quick call to your child’s school counselor is all that is needed to make sure your child has someone to talk to during difficult times.
For more information on the middle school experience, be sure to check out these sites:
Middle School Life by PBS
Why Middle School Counselors?
About the Author
Tracy L. Jackson is the Coordinator of Guidance Services in the Office of Guidance Services and Student Records. Tracy is a former elementary, middle and high school counselor, as well as a former high school department chair. She is the Recipient of the 2011-2012 Counselor of the Year Award by the Hampton Roads Counseling Association and the 2012 Counselor of the Year Award by the Virginia Counseling Association. She serves as the Regional Area 2 School Counselor Representative for the Virginia Department of Education and is the current president of the Virginia School Counselor Association.