Middle school. Those years were not my favorite. Adjusting to a new schedule, a new school, and new crowds caused uncertainty and anxiety. Now as a middle school mom, those same uncertainties are rushing back even stronger. We want our kids to do well, be treated well, and adjust well – better than we ever did. But, as we know, times are different so the worry is high.
As a middle school counselor but more importantly, a middle school mom, I know our kids will need support – mostly behind the scenes – as they transition to a new time in their lives. Here are five tips to help your child transition to middle school.
Understand the Logistics
No matter if this is your child’s first year in middle school or the last, you will want to understand how it all works. To help yourself understand this transition to middle school, join your school’s parent Facebook page and look over questions, comments, and suggestions. Ask your own questions, too! Check how the campus works and what it looks like. You may be able to find bell schedules and a campus map. Better yet, buddy up with other moms who can help you navigate. Find a veteran mom to ease your worries and even a new one who will be learning alongside you.
Don’t Wear Your Worry
The next few tips all deal with the most important person of all – your child. As you learn those logistics, focus on your kiddo. Some of us have fond memories of middle school while many remember the low points. Your child may be worried or anxious already to transition to middle school, so share your worries with your spouse or another middle school mom. Be strong for them and focus on the positive. Save the negative for mom friends over mom drinks.
As a middle school counselor, I suggest staying involved but do not hover over your child’s every move. Or the teachers’ moves, too. This tip simply means to form a rapport with the teachers (there will be more of them than in elementary school) and share your concerns and/or hopes for the school year. Some teacher relationships will be easier than others so go in with that in mind but let them know there is support at home.
Trust Your Child
Middle school is a time of discovery for your child. While it is hard to let go, these years are where they start learning more independence. Help them stay organized and study as needed but don’t check every detail every day. It will be a learning curve for you but an even bigger one for them. Teach them to be their own advocate – middle school can be a time for growth over grades.
We know the scary components of school these days – bullying, school safety, discipline, and mental health. While moms carry that worry so heavily (our babies do too), keep the chat lines open. Instead of “how was your day?” maybe ask them about the good AND bad parts. Come up with solutions and plans to seek help. Focus on the trusted adult idea – to find a safe place when things are scary or hard. Utilize school resources like the school counselor or a favorite teacher. Let your child know that the communication lines are always open.
We do not like when our children grow up and have to face hard times or scary changes. Middle school has so many of those, but it is also a time for discovery. Focus on that good – new friends and new experiences. Encourage them.
And moms, find your safe place, too. Watching them grow up is bittersweet. You are not alone, and you will also grow as well.
Middle school moms, what tips can you offer for moms to help their kids transition to middle school? Let us know! We are in this together.