Transitioning from elementary school to middle school is an exciting “rite of passage.”
It is an enormous opportunity for intellectual and emotional growth. However, it is also a challenging time for students and their parents. In middle school, students are faced with rigorous academics, peer approval, biological changes, and are in the middle of establishing their own identities.
In elementary school, students have one teacher that teaches them every subject, they have one classroom they spend most instructional hours in. They also have a recess time for blowing off a little steam. In many standard middle schools, students must go from a one classroom environment to having up to six different teachers, in six different classes. Students have little to no time to decompress.
It can be a really challenging time. Those who previously soared academically can literally be bogged down just by navigating their way around school. Students are learning their new teachers’ names and different styles, not to mention, the massive amounts of new classmates they may have. Just the dynamics of getting around school can distract from academics.
Research shows that when educators and parents are genuinely interested in students, they are more likely to succeed.
It is important to understand and guide students in the right direction by providing them with opportunities, relationships, and skills both academically and socially. According to experts, students who have a sense of belonging transitional successfully and are more likely to stay in school and graduate.
“When students feel a sense of belonging in the classroom, it can increase their educational success and motivational outcomes in multiple ways, and teachers can help create this feeling of belonging by building connections between classroom and community.” –DeLeon Gray, Ph.D.
Menaul School provides a gentle transition into 6th grade through our Introduction to Middle School course and Academic Support.
At the beginning of the year, we go on a middle school campout to create a bonding and connection between peer groups and encourage leadership.
We ease the transition from being in one class to six or more by bunching core subjects into STEM or Humanities blocks, making subjects more manageable for students.
Weekly chapel is not just for spiritual guidance, but also development of values such as empathy and the importance of community.
In addition, middle schoolers often struggle with having no time to decompress. Menaul students have regular breaks and time outside for fresh air on Menaul’s expansive, tree-filled campus. We also have P.E. at the end of each school day.
Tips for a Successful Transition
- Belonging. Arrange activities for transitioning students to become familiar with the middle school campus and culture prior to enrollment.
- Open Dialog. Create opportunities for families and faculty to plan and collaborate.
- Support. Provide students with individual academic and social support.
- Homework. “Incoming middle school students often struggle to complete their assignments at home AND on time. Starting to form good study habits will help them to be successful in the middle school!”—Danielle Parker, Menaul Middle School Faculty
- Talents. Help your student discover and develop their talents. Get to know them beyond their academic abilities and build a positive relationship.
- Life skills. Middle school students need to have a wide range of skills to be successful. Something as simple as recognizing their own feelings to handling stressful situations such as bullying and peer pressure. Learning how to set goals, lead groups, and be thoughtful problem solvers.
- Most importantly, give students a safe place to succeed!
This post is brought to you by Menaul School. Menaul School, a grades 6-12 faith-informed private school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, provides individualized attention in a rigorous academic environment. Each student develops their uniqueness while expanding their awareness of the world.
If you are considering a private education for your middle or high school student, Menaul School is holding an open house on March 5. Get more information here.