Parenting Dilemma: How to Make the Transition from Elementary School to Middle School Easier

By Melissa Taylor

Age Groups

Your baby is ready for middle school! Where did the time go? (No, you haven’t aged a bit, mom and dad – don’t worry.)


Starting middle school isn’t just nerve-wracking for you; it’s usually a bit worrisome for your kids, too.


So, how can you make the transition from elementary school to middle school easy and stress-free? How can you help your kids start the new school year with confidence and enthusiasm? Here are two ways that I recommend: getting advice from other kids and making sure your child is well prepared before he or she starts.


Advice From Other Kids

First, let your child learn about middle school from another kid. Ask a babysitter or older neighbor to give your child the inside scoop on middle school. Hearing what to expect from a peer counts doubly compared our adult wisdom.


Take the bathrooms, for example. My daughter was thrilled that our babysitter told her all the locations of the school bathrooms, and was glad to know that the one off the lunchroom was really small. I would never have thought to tell her about the bathrooms. Kids know what’s important to other kids. Go figure.


Speaker and mother of three Betsy Ringer shares, “We had fabulous babysitters. I had them talk to each of my kids about the kinds of activities offered at the school. They told my kids how to get involved and encouraged them to try something new. I also had these girls give my kids tips about how to get along better with teachers. They told funny stories and gave them some great ideas about what teachers respond well to.”


Be Well-Prepared

Another way to help ease the transition from elementary school to middle school is to give your kids lots of information and skills so they feel extra prepared from the get-go.


If possible, learn the layout of the school. Take a tour if you can. See where the lockers, gym, bathrooms, and lunchroom are located. If you get your child’s schedule, figure out where each of his or her classes will be.


You can also prepare your child for the academics, social skills, and after-school activities of middle school. If he or she needs tutoring to be ready for math class, do it. If he or she needs extra work on social skills, involve your child in a social skills group.


You can tap on other parents for tips as well:


Teacher and mom Sarah Holdeman asked a professional to help her daughter get organized so she’d be extra-prepared with this skill that challenged her.


Kent Clayton got his son excited about band by giving him trumpet lessons over the summer so he’d have a head start.


Think about what can you do to help your child feel prepared and confident for the upcoming middle school year.


Remind your child that you’re his or her biggest support and fan: he or she can tell you any worries or concerns and you’ll always help.


And remember that getting peer help and preparing for success will ease this often challenging transition from elementary school to middle school. It will be okay – even for you.