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Help Your Child Excel in Middle School

Here are some important steps you can take to prepare your children and address their natural fears about entering middle school.
Published: July 13, 2020

Transitioning from elementary to middle school can be rough on students and parents.

It’s your child’s first big change in their academic career in six years, which can cause anxiety, concern and decreased self-confidence.

For many, it’s their first time dealing with different teachers for different subjects and their first time navigating a school campus throughout the day. Even before school begins, your child may experience anticipation and worry.

That’s natural. However, there are steps you can take to address these fears and prepare your child for the next level.

Sharing Realistic Expectations

Most incoming students form initial middle school impressions from elementary school teachers, older siblings or neighbors. That’s a lot of different sources of information. This can lead to uncertain feelings and create more questions than answers.

So how can you help to set expectations and reassure your child?

It’s important to involve them in a variety of activities to prepare them for their new school year. Do you know a current middle school student or teacher? Reach out to see if they would be open to having an upbeat conversation with your child.

You can also provide support in the home that builds confidence and reduces anxiety. If your child feels concerned, try providing consistent positive messages about middle school—that it’s safe and fun. Have honest discussions about the changes they will be experiencing as early adolescents, so they are prepared for the new journey.

This will help them feel more self-assured and develop coping skills for future transitional challenges.

Ensuring a Successful Introduction

In addition to building trust and confidence in your child over the summer, here are a few tips to support a successful transition to middle school as the school year begins:

  • Attend back-to-school parent night. You should make an effort to meet your child’s homeroom teacher and begin to build relationships with their other educators. This allows you to be engaged with the curriculum, and they have someone to reach out to if they notice changes in behavior.
  • Participate in school meetings. It will be helpful to hear about the concerns and questions your child may have. Talk to your child about the positive aspects of their middle school experience on a regular basis. Watch out for any signs of challenges and be ready to address them.
  • Take time to learn about young adolescent development. Your child is entering a new growth stage. Educating yourself will help you to continue to build a relationship with your child and interact with them in a positive way.
  • Plan ways for your child to get involved. Research shows that after-school activities can help students ease into school culture. In the beginning of the year, seek out a calendar of social events and list of extracurricular activities from school administrators.

Middle school is a great and exciting time for students, with the right attitude. By providing guidance in your child’s life, you can reduce their anxiety during the summer before middle school and start a successful adventure this fall together.


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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.