Starting at a new school by moving from elementary to junior high or from junior high to high school can be anxiety ridden due to the changes and differences that are inherent at the new environment. The biggest changes are generally from elementary to junior high and again from high school to college, as the schedule is quite a bit different.
This week I am going to concentrate on the transition from elementary school to junior high. Here the children go from mainly one teacher to up to six in a day and they need to learn to navigate from one classroom to another with very little time in-between.
These transitions can be difficult for some children and they may become stressed from the juggling act and needing to “re-group” several times a day with many things to remember. For some, the changes are engaging and keep their minds stimulated and the activity of moving every hour works for them. For others the need to move around a lot can take its toll and can make them anxious and stressed out.
Here are a few steps to take to make the transition easier:
Visit the school prior to the first day and help your child know where their classrooms are located. If there is a school map (which most have), then draw a route from the first class through the last in a bright color so that your child knows where he or she is heading after each class ends. Sometimes the visual illustration helps.
Talk with your child and address any concerns they have before classes begin if possible. If school has begun, ask how it is going and address the concerns right away in order to circumvent any others from arising and to deal with those causing problems now. Ask open ended questions versus ones that can be answered with one-word answers so you can get your child to open up a bit more.
Spend time with your child and find out what their lunchtime preferences are. After the first few days they will see what works for them and what they want and don’t want to do or eat and you can plan ahead. Create a meal schedule based on what is available at the school cafeteria if your child wishes to partake periodically and plan around those offerings. Write out a menu for the week–or even the month–to make your shopping and lunch making easier.
Set up a place at home where your child can do his or her homework. At that place be sure that all the necessary supplies are available. Have plenty of pencils, pens, erasers, notebook paper, and highlighters. Also have colored pencils (generally through high school) and notebooks, along with plenty of index cards for future flashcard making. Keep this space tidy and clear of household clutter so that this space is sacred and always usable for homework.
Get in the habit of asking your child for school papers/notices as soon as you see your student after school. Many times the notices have been distributed throughout the day and they may have forgotten there are papers from first period that you need to read and sign for them to return the next day. Don’t make it any harder on your child by not doing your part. Read and sign immediately and watch your child put the paper into an appropriate section of their binder.
Place a special folder in your child’s main binder specifically for papers that need to be returned. There are several three-holed varieties to select from that are colorful and easy to label with the word “RETURN” or “TURN IN” written on it.
Hopefully these tips will make for smoother transitions for your son or daughter this new school season. Watch next week for the junior high to high school transitions.
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