Transitions They will be just fine. Will you? WRITTEN BY GENNIFRE HARTMAN
Transitions are hard. Some people handle them with grace, bounding into the next chapter of their lives with the enthusiasm of a golden retriever puppy. Some people make transitions with trepidation, clinging to the familiar vestiges of the past. As the summer days shorten and fall air comes into the valley, here are a few tips to help your adolescents with the transition from one stage to the next in their education journey. Whether they are leaving the walls of middle school and taking the next step into high school, or moving up from the safe structure of elementary school, they are moving up. And, despite a pandemic, remote learning and multiple school environments, they are ready for their next steps.
Transition into Middle School
The biggest transition into a middle school environment is going to be yours. As a parent or adult caregiver, it is different work parenting an elementary-aged child and a middle school tween. As an elementary parent, your role was to protect, manage and be in control of your child’s world. You were an active teammate and player on their team. This might mean you picked your child’s friends, you chose their activities and you met independently with a child’s teacher to discuss challenges in the classroom. As a middle school parent, you’ll begin the process of moving to the sidelines in a coaching role. Instead of being an active player on the field, you will encourage your kid to pick from a range of activities and allow them to have friends with different interests. The job of a middle schooler is to develop independence, which means you need to give them enough space to learn, to fail and to get back up. Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, says “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.” As the parent of a middle schooler, prepare yourself for school conferences that involve the kids. Middle schoolers are capable of student-led conferences, which give them the voice and control over their education. And, if there is a concern in the classroom, don’t be surprised if the teacher wants your middle schooler to attend. As you move to the sidelines, you can also trust the teachers. They are advocates and experts in childhood development and education. And, they are insightful and understand that kids develop at different rates, especially at this age. It’s a good idea for kids, parents, caregivers and teachers to talk together about any concerns. 16