Whether remembering your own experiences, or hearing from family or friends, the transition from elementary school to middle school is an important one. But, it doesn’t have to be stressful for you and your child.
Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVSchools) Communications Specialist Becky Kelbaugh has helpful advice for caregivers and parents to tackle this transition.
“Middle school is an exciting time for students to gain some independence and to branch out personally to explore and discover their interests,” Kelbaugh said. “While there are certainly new challenges for parents and students, there are also new opportunities to build friendships and discover new passions that will be important in their educational journey.”
5 Middle School Myths
- Myth – Middle school students don’t need their parents.
Truth – No matter how old your child is, he or she will always need their parents. They may gain more independence or not want to openly share as much as they previously did, but this creates an opportunity to discuss privacy, respect and rewards or punishments for meeting communications expectations.
- Myth – Middle schools don’t welcome parental involvement.
Truth – Administrators and especially teachers encourage and appreciate parental involvement at the middle school level. Parents can play an active role by being a PTO/PTA member or volunteering as a chaperone for field trips, school dances and other functions.
- Myth – Middle schools are too big and will be hard for students to navigate.
Truth – Yes, middle schools may be slightly larger than elementary schools, but navigation becomes easier with practice. During meet the teacher, walk with your child from class to class in the order of their schedule. Then, wait in the front of the school and have them practice by themselves, walking in order of their schedule. Once they can confidently navigate on their own in a semi-empty school, they won’t be as intimidated when the halls are filled with teens on their first day.
- Myth – Middle school is the time where students can fall into the “wrong crowd.”
Truth – While the student body of middle schools tends to be larger than elementary schools, it only means students have more options for friends with varied backgrounds. Encourage your child to invite new friends over, and look for ways to meet the parents of your child’s new friends. This way, you’ll both feel more comfortable.
- Myth – Middle schools have bullies.
Truth – Bullying comes in many forms – verbal, physical, electronic and cyber. If a bullying and/or harassment incident occurs, report it immediately to a teacher, a principal or other trusted adult. Have open conversations with your child about treating others with respect and kindness. Resources are available at stopbullying.gov.
Middle School vs. Elementary School – 9 Key Differences
- Larger Student Body = More opportunities for friends that share similar interests.
- Schedules = Variety of teachers and teaching styles help students better learn how to learn.
- Guidance Counselors = Additional academic support, goal setting and coping strategies can be shared.
- Media Centers = Larger access to books, resources materials and computers.
- Electives = Many choices available! You can motivate non-academic students to enjoy middle school more.
- More Homework = Research papers and in-depth projects are more time consuming, but often unlock new passions and interests. Scheduling more homework time in the evening can eliminate stress for students and parents.
- A-F Grades = A quick discussion with each teacher will help parents and students understand their expectations and new grading parameters.
- Recess is Out = Athletics In. Students receive plenty of opportunity to move around and exercise during P.E. and during before- and after-school sports.
- Clubs = Many opportunities to make new friends with similar interest, and develop talents and passions.
4 Learning Tips for Middle School Success
- Schedule a tour: Familiarize yourself with the school and teachers prior to the first day of class.
- Get organized: Help children choose a digital or paper planner and learn to organize time and assignments.
- Remind your child to ask for help. Teachers, counselors, administrators and parents are all ready to help students succeed.
- Get involved. Both students and parents benefit from meeting new people and learning new talents after jumping headfirst into all middle school offers.
“Your child is growing up and is starting to make choices on their own. During these transition years, it’s important to continue to communicate and inquire about what’s going on with friends and at school,” added Kelbaugh. “If parents have questions or concerns about what’s happening at school, speak with teachers or the principal. The lines of communication should always be open with your child’s school.”
More helpful tips, visit the Paradise Valley Unified School District’s website at https://www.pvschools.net/. Follow Paradise Valley Unified School District on social media at:
About Paradise Valley Unified School District
For more than 100 years, Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVSchools) has consistently represented the best in Pre-K-12 education. PVSchools serves more than 32,000 elementary, middle and high school students in 45 schools located in northeast Phoenix and Scottsdale. The district extends from 7th Avenue to Pima Road, and Northern Avenue to Jomax Road. The district has been recognized nationally for its outstanding educational programs and as one of the top districts in the state for providing students and taxpayers a big academic “return on investment” for high achievement and low cost operations. PVSchools celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013. For additional information about the Company, please visit https://www.pvschools.net/.