The middle school years are a difficult time for children. Studies show that they are a transitional point in the academic career, one with a great deal of significance for future academic success or failure. It is a place where future habits and vices are formed. This is the place where children begin to get lost in the system, entering a cycle that can end in a complete loss of interest in school.
Drop out students are made in middle schools when they get lost in the shuffle. Middle school can also be a place of great excitement for your child. It is a time that falls squarely into the abyss between childhood and adolescence, some children make it across that no man's land easily and some do not. One predictor of a child's success is their parents' involvement.
Middle school marks a significant change in most children's academic life. This is the first time that children are put into the period system. Changing classes multiple times a day offers children both more and less structure. Class times are rigid, but the breaks between classes offer new ways to break up the day. They have multiple teachers now, who may make competing demands on their time.
They meet many more people as their classes change with each period. The upshot is that life gets a lot more chaotic. Some children thrive on this change, but others are more likely to slip to the sidelines. You can help prepare your child for the change in structure by providing them with the tools they need to organize their lives and impose order.
You can also help by sharing your remembrances of school, providing access to a sense of what the new order may be like so that your child is not completely surprised by it. This type of conversation may also allow you an opportunity to explore your child's feelings about middle school and reassure them.
You should make a point of arranging for your child to visit his or her new school before the new school year starts. Most middle schools offer some kind of orientation for their newest students, attending will help your child get a sense of the environment and learn the names and faces of teachers and counselors. It can also help your child begin to make sense of how to choose their classes, an important new skill.
Throughout this process you should be available in the background to support your child. If you can, stop by and meet the teachers and counselors for yourself so that you know who will be teaching your child and what their social and academic options may be. As your child begins to make the transition to middle school student, be sure to keep the lines of communication open at home and at school. This will help you stay involved in your child's educational success.