Sending your emlementary school aged child to middle school can be almost as stressful on you, the parent, as it is for your child, but it is a necessary step on the road to independence and adulthood. There are no real ways to totally prepare your child for middle school and most of the time, the administrators at the school are better able to help you child than most anyone else is because they see it year after year with each new class of middle schoolers. They are better able to anticipate their questions and points of anxiety than most parents are and since they are an outside third party, the children are more inclined to be open with them because they feel that they may better understand their fears and expectations.
The best piece of advice that I can give as a parent who has recently done this with my child is to take ever oppurtunity to expose your child to their new school as you can. If there is an orientation for the school, make sure you attend with your child. In my case, there was a day where the kids could come and get a tour of the building and meet their teachers. They got to eat in the cafeteria and ask the principal and guidance councelor questions, they also got to see what a locker is and how to use a combination lock to open the locker. The kids were exposed to a lot of information on that first day of orientation and I think that my child felt a little less nervous about entering middle school than she did before we went to the orientation.
Over that summer, I bought her some combination locks to practice opening over and over so that she not only memorized the combination but she also got faster at it. There is only three minutes between classes for the students to put away books and get the books for the next class, so I wanted to be sure that she could open her locker as quickly as possible. I also bought her some shelves to put in her locker so that she could keep it organized throughout the year and went about once a month after school and helped her organize it better by removing any old and unneeded papers, etc. The real key to staying stress free in middle school is to stay organized.
To make things even easier for the students, there is an orientation right before the school year starts that is basically a mock school day for the students. The orientation starts when school normally starts and ends whe school normally ends. During this day, the students get their schedules, their school supply lists, and they also get their locker assignments. This will help them to plan out their strategies for navigating the halls and planning when they will need to go to their lockers and all of the other things they will need to learn to do efficiently in middle school.
Another piece of advice that I think is important in getting your child ready for middle school is to try to be open minded to all that they will be experiencing and the effects that it will take on them emotionally and physically. In my daughter’s case, school starts much earlier in middle school than it did in elementary school-a whole two hours earlier-and she needed time to adjust to that as well as all of the class changes and all of the different teachers. The first few weeks are going to be a roller coaster of emotions for them and you must try to listen to them and not get upset for the things that they are getting stressed out about. My daughter went to a middle school that none of her elementary school friends went to, so she had to make all new friends at school and that alone was hard for her.
All in all, it is going to all be brand new for your newly middle school aged child and it is going to be stressful for both of you. Just learn to roll with the punches and help out when you can and things will all just fall into place.