Moving from elementary school to middle school is an important milestone. As with most stages of life, there are adjustments to be made. Here are some tips to help you and your child make a smooth transition:

Try to focus on the positives

If your child is nervous about having to deal with multiple classes and classrooms, emphasize instead how great it is to have a variety of teachers and classmates. Let your child know that although it may seem frightening to have to move from room to room, they'll get used to it. Many elementary schools help make this transition smoother by swapping classrooms for certain classes like science or music.

Some kids worry about not having recess

It's a good idea to remind your child that although there may not be any monkey bars or games of tag being played, the short breaks between classes offer a chance to get up and move around and visit with friends. A longer lunch period allows for more rest and recreation. If this doesn't seem like enough time, then your child might also be interested in joining clubs, performance groups, or athletic teams. Extracurricular activities give many kids a chance to make friends and develop new talents.

Another concern is worry over lockers

This fear can be easily handled with a tour of the campus before the school year begins. Most schools allow and even encourage this. Locate your child's classes and record how long it takes to walk from one to the next. Find out which routes allow the most time to plan for bathroom breaks. Be sure to use this time to test your child's locker. If it's difficult to open, let the school office know.

The increased homework and changes in school rules and format may seem overwhelming at first, but most kids settle into the new routine fairly easily. Let them know that along with the changes come additional privileges. Talk to your child and discuss their fears one by one. Don't make light of any concern, no matter how small it may seem to you. Remind your child that they will not be the only new person at the school. There will be an entire group of kids in exactly the same boat, and every one of them will have their own fears and doubts. Being nervous on the first day is completely normal.

In case you still feel as though your child is having difficulty adjusting, most middle schools are equipped with a counseling staff. These trained professionals should be able to help your child adjust, and can also offer suggestions regarding class selection. Be sure to let your child know that there are adults both at home and at school who are willing to help with any problems that might arise.

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