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As your adolescent completes elementary school and begins the transition to middle school many things will be occupying his/her mind. Change of any kind requires adjustment and can be challenging. There are some things parents and teachers can do to make the transition from elementary school to middle school successful. By looking at the world from the perspective of an adolescent it will help parents and teachers understand both the excitement and stress the young person is going through. The graduation to middle school brings many new opportunities and adventures. It is important to ease your child’s fears so he/she can relax and enjoy the middle school experience. As your adolescent thinks about changing schools apprehension usually is focused on three main areas of concern. Those areas of concern include logistics, academics, and social issues. Questions like the following will likely cross his/her mind:

“Where is the bathroom and will I have enough time to make it between classes?”

“What if I can’t open my locker?”

“What if I don’t have anyone to eat lunch with?”

“Will I be able to handle the homework?”

“Will older kids tease me?”

“Will I have any friends in my classes?”

The list can go on and on. There are many things a parent can do to help ease these concerns and help the child to feel more confident. Spend some time during the summer prior to the start of the school year engaging in the following activities suggested by Great Schools! with your new middle schooler ( for a complete list and additional advice, visit www.greatschools.org ) :

• Explore the school’s Web site with your child. Search for announcements, schedules, and events.

• Accompany your child on campus tours and orientations offered to parents and incoming students. The better you understand the school layout and rules, the more you can help your child.

• Get a map of the campus and take your child to explore. Pick a time after school in the spring or in the days just before school starts in the fall. Be sure to check in with the school office to get an OK for your explorations.

• Once your child’s locker has been assigned, help him/her practice opening it until he/she can open it with ease.

• Include a couple of your child’s friends on campus treks. They can boost each other’s memory about where things are when school starts.

• Help your student with time management skills. Work together on a schedule for study time, break time, chores, etc.

• Work out an organizational system with your student. Acknowledge and make allowances for her anxiety; at first, she may need to carry everything for all classes all the time in order to feel prepared.

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Kaye Frataccia is the program manager for Around the Table. This column solely represents the writer’s opinion.

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