Helping Your Children Make the Transition – by Felicia Medows

Elementary school class outside
The start of the school year brings both excitement and apprehension. It is the beginning of homework, school lunches and after school activities, to name a few. It is also the time of year when many young people make the transition from elementary to middle/junior high school and from middle/junior high school to high school. Many young people are able to make a smooth transition, however, others struggle. While there is a lot to consider, here is some information to assist parents with helping their child make this transition a little easier.
Elementary to Middle/Junior High

There is no more recess
Gone are the days of monkey bars and kickball. Most States do have mandates for Physical Education and Health however; they are usually taken one quarter of the school year. Be sure to have other physical outlets or activities that your child can engage in.

Instead of 2-3 teachers, your child will have a minimum of 6 different teachers per quarter.
Elementary students on average have one classroom teacher, two tops, and a few teachers for specials (music, art). Middle school students usually have one teacher for each academic subject like math and science and different teachers for their creative arts. That means that they will have six different people with six different personalities and expectations.

Teachers will not communicate the same way they did in Elementary.
In Elementary, most teachers have about 25 students, while in Middle School they have about 4 times as many. Class sizes in Middle School average 25 students. If a teacher has four Mods or Periods times 25 students then they have approximately 100 students they are responsible for. Reach out to the teachers frequently to keep abreast of what going on with your child.

Discipline in Middle/Junior High School is harsher than Elementary.
Many School Districts have adopted a Zero Tolerance policy regarding discipline. The same infractions that carried a slap on the wrist in Elementary school may have harsher penalties in Middle school. Make sure you are aware of the Code of Conduct and Student Rights and Responsibilities policies.

Middle/Junior High school students tend to stop bring home important letters and documents.
When children get to Middle/Junior High School information suddenly stops coming home. Make sure to continue to check your child’s backpack until they can remember to bring you the items without you asking. In order to remain informed, be sure to check the School’s website frequently. Some school also mail items home, use email or have a RoboCall phone system, so ensure that your contact information is up to date.

Middle school students are expected to be more independent.
Students are expected to responsible and more self-sufficient once they get to Middle/Junior High School. They are expected to follow rules and adhere to demanding time constraints (locker breaks, lunch) that they didn’t have in Elementary. Ensure that your child has all of the materials that they need every day to be successful. Also be sure to talk to them often about how they are handling the transition.

Middle/Junior High to High
There is even more independence expected and less supervision
In Middle/Junior High School students are required to be more independent than Elementary and when they get to High school the expectation increases. Parent/teacher communication is less frequent and students are expected to take responsibility for their academics and behavior. Since they are expected to be more mature there is less supervision.

Ninth grade is a very hard transitional year.
Ninth grade is the year when many students struggle. Middle/Junior High schools do not usually adequately prepare them for the major transition. Teachers are generally less hands on and the academic and behavioral supports that were available in Elementary or Middle/Junior High School may not be available. Workloads and academic expectations increase and some students have difficulty keeping up.

Grades truly count, 9th grades is when they normally begin accumulating credits and requirements for graduation.
While some students received High School credits in Middle/Junior High School for higher level courses, most students begin earning credits in the 9th grade. Credits are not only the requirements needed to graduate from High School but also the entrance requirements for Colleges and Universities. It is important that your child understands the importance of not only successfully passing their courses but ensuring that they do well academically.

High school teachers have about 2 times as many students as a Middle/Junior High school teacher.
In Middle/ Junior High School most teachers, on average, have about 100 students. However, with some High School having a student body between 1,000 and 2,500 students, teachers may have 150-200. While class sizes in Middle/Junior High School average 25 students, High school teachers may have as many as 35 students per class. Be sure to reach out to the teachers frequently to keep abreast of what going on with your child.

Discipline policies are even harsher.
Many School Districts have adopted a Zero Tolerance policy regarding discipline and all have a Code of Conduct or Student Rights and Responsibilities policy that students are expected to follow. Academic and behavioral infractions carry harsher penalties than harsher penalties in Middle school. Make sure your child is aware of the consequences of violating the policies that are in place.

Felicia Meadows, CEO & Founder of Tomorrow’s Future, is a Professional School Counselor with Prince George’s County Public Schools. She has worked in the field of education for more than 15 years and has experience at each level from elementary to high school. In addition to being a counselor, Ms. Meadows is also a Life Coach. She uses her skills and experiences efficiently to empower students, parents and other individuals to create fulfilling educational and life experiences, which embodies her motto “Step Up Your Life”. If you need more help or have questions on how to make this transition easier, please feel free to contact me at Felicia.stepupyourlife@gmail.com.

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