How to successfully support your 11- or 12-year-old transition into the Middle Years?
There are many transitions for children throughout their childhood. From saying goodbye to friends relocating to a different country to moving up a year group and meeting new teachers and classmates, the ability to deal with these transitions improves with the right parental support. As children grow and become more independent, the required support will also change. One particularly challenging transition for all children is the move from primary school to middle school. This is a period of change for your child from the start of adolescents (involving physical and emotional changes) and a change in expectations at school. How can you successfully support your child through this important transition? We have shared some tips below!
Get ready for change
The times of having one class teacher and only a small amount of homework are over. In middle school, subjects are taught by specialist teachers with expectations for students to manage their own time and complete homework on time. Starting the conversation at home about how they are going to manage their own time and the new workload whilst your child is still in primary school will enable you to address any concerns your child might have. Knowing what the expectations are and being ready to accept a different routine is an important foundation for ensuring a successful start to the Middle Years.
Self-advocacy starts with having the courage to speak up and to ask questions about misunderstandings. To ensure students take the initiative and ask the right questions (both in school and in their social life), parents sometimes have to take a step back and trust in their child’s abilities to ask for help. What if your Middle Years child forgot to do their homework? While it would be a natural response for parents to get involved in primary school, in middle school students should take the lead in talking these mistakes through with the teacher and the consequences. After all, it is through making mistakes that we learn.
Encourage Positive Risk-Taking
There is no better time than during middle school to try new things and to become comfortable with taking positive risks, which are essential for a teenager’s development. While students might try a couple of different things before finding the right fit, parents should not stop encouraging them as well as praising the courage and energy it takes to start something new. Here are a few examples of what positive risk-taking in middle school can look like:
· Joining a sports team and/or an after-school activity
· Making new friends
· Starting music lessons
· Running for election as a student representative
Keep strong Communication and Connection lines
Each child deals with transitions differently, so it is important to keep talking with your child. Some students might be concerned about their grades, others about not being good enough in one subject, or some might feel lonely. Although they often struggle, driven by the urge to be independent, Middle Years students sometimes forget they can ask their parents for help. Having a strong connection with your teenager and creating a safe space at home to talk about the challenges is vital. Inventing new and creative ways to ask about the school day could be a great beginning to a deeper relationship with your child. Instead of focusing on grades and homework, try asking about friends, funny incidents, and activities that the child enjoyed doing during the school day.
Develop an organizational strategy
Attending middle school also means more homework and a greater need for time management and organization skills. To avoid the feeling of mental overload, parents can help their children to set short- and long-term goals and teach them how to prioritize tasks, even before the start of middle school. Buying an agenda and showing the students how to take note of all responsibilities such as homework or after school obligations will help them to get organized and to plan to accomplish all tasks.