Now that Your Child Has Transitioned to Middle School

By Huntington Learning Center

The jump from elementary to middle school is a big one for children and often comes with nerves and concerns. Parents can help ease this transition by taking a few simple steps. Middle school is quite different than elementary school. It takes time for students to adapt, and your student might need to make adjustments after a few months.

What can parents do to help their new middle school student navigate this change successfully? Here are several tips for sixth graders and their parents:  

Set expectations. Middle school steps up the academic rigor and brings greater teacher expectations and a larger workload. Now that your child has a few months under their belt, talk about the things that they are struggling with like: multiple classes, multiple teachers, moving from classroom to classroom numerous times throughout the day, a bigger building (if applicable), more class materials to keep track of and a greater emphasis on grades and GPA (to prepare students for high school academics). Have these conversations with your child and can help them make adjustments as needed.   

Manage time wisely. If there’s one piece of advice for middle schoolers you and your child are likely to hear from teachers repeatedly, it is to commit to excellent time management. Solid routines will minimize procrastination and help your child make the most of homework time. If your child is finding this difficult, make sure your child has (and uses) a planner to keep track of homework assignments, upcoming test/quiz/project due dates, and other commitments outside of school like volunteering or extracurricular activities. Your child should start every homework session by prioritizing their nightly homework. For bigger projects or tests, your child should plan ahead by breaking things down into smaller tasks with due dates. 

Get organized. There’s a lot to keep track of in middle school, and your student needs to have a good organizational system. This could include a binder and folder system that will help them avoid losing important papers and homework and save them time each night when they sit down to do their work. Remember that electronic files need a good organization system as well.  Make sure your student saves and labels digital files in a way they can quickly recall them. At home, your child should have a dedicated study space that is stocked with the materials your child needs. At the end of every homework or study session, have your child tidy the space and get their backpack organized and ready to go for the next day.  

Establish strong study habits. Most young students do not inherently know how to study. Talk with your child about habits that will help them succeed with the increased expectations and difficulty of middle school classes. In addition to everything mentioned above, your child should schedule their study time and stick to it, eliminate distractions from their study space and set goals for each study session. Shorter homework/study sessions with short breaks in between are much more productive than longer cram sessions.  

Discuss stress and how to deal with it. The middle school years are a time of growth and change for adolescents, both as students and as people. That can create stress, so make sure your child’s “middle school survival guide” includes tips for stress management. Staying organized and managing their time will help minimize school-related stress, of course, but it’s also important that your child adopts healthy ways of coping with the inevitable ups and downs of middle school life. Your child needs to get enough sleep, take care of their physical well-being, and make time for friends, family, and activities they enjoy. It’s beneficial to adopt a few methods to calm themselves when they are feeling overwhelmed.  

Middle school is an important time of development for young students, and parental support is critical. Parents should not fear what their child is experiencing but rather embrace it as an opportunity to support their child as they grow into an independent self-starter. Keep those lines of communication open with your new middle schooler and set expectations that your child needs to stick to good habits and make school a priority.

If your child needs support along the way, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN. We equip middle school students with the skills and confidence to overcome any academic challenges that arise in the classroom, and we can help your child do the same.