Summer Tips for a Successful Transition to Middle School in the Fall
By: Carmen Malca, Middle School Math Teacher at Seminole Science Charter School
After an unexpected switch to distance learning amid the ongoing pandemic, many students are more than ready to complete the 2019-2020 school year and begin their well-deserved summer break. While the fall may seem like a long way off, parents should begin considering how they can assist any children making the transition from elementary to middle school.
Think back to your own middle school years and you’ll likely recall feelings of awkwardness, but also the thrilling pull toward new independence. It’s a transformative period – and one experts believe has the largest impact on human development (second only to the period from infancy to age three). That’s a lot of growth and change happening at one time. Luckily, you can find a balance between being supportive and becoming a helicopter parent by following these tips:
- Teach teens to be their own advocate. While you may want to fight all your child’s battles, middle school is the time to encourage your student to speak up for themselves. If they’ve had a disagreement with a sibling or peer, forgotten their homework, etc., resist the urge to get in the middle. Instead, brainstorm resolution options together and allow them to see it through.
- Embrace learning lessons. As parents encourage advocacy, they should also allow room for mistakes. Middle school is the time when students begin learning that actions have consequences. If a parent shows up with a child’s forgotten homework, will they ever learn the importance of planning ahead and being responsible? It can be a challenge to watch your child make a mistake, but the lessons they’re learning will carry them into adulthood.
- Promote risk-taking. Early teen years are meant for trying new things and exploring what activities inspire your child. This summer, encourage them try a new hobby, play a sport, or make a neighborhood friend, and praise their efforts. Positive risk taking is an important skill in teen development – and one that will help ensure a happy, well-rounded adult life later.
- Maintain your connection. As a child ages, their desire for independence and confusing teenage emotions can make connecting with parents hard. Carve out one-on-one time to spend together during the upcoming summer months, playing a board game or watching your favorite show. Engage with them on social media and take an active interest in their friends. Set the building blocks for a strong relationship now – so your child knows you can always be relied on.
Middle school can be hard, but thoughtful parenting can make all the difference. Promote a positive attitude about this upcoming transition, and your child will absorb that energy. This will be an exciting time for you both. Preparation is key, but don’t forget to stop and live in the moment together this summer.