Five Tips for Surviving the Middle School Leap

Is there anything more terrifying than putting your precious little kindergartner on a school bus for the first time?

Five Tips for Surviving the Middle School LeapWhy, yes there is. There’s a place called middle school.

I’ve already ushered two of my kids through those 6th grade doors, yet as I prepare to send my third baby on his way, I can’t help but be once again taken by how big this step feels. He will have so many classes, so many teachers… a locker. His little body and heart will be changing like crazy. And, he will be navigating all of the above while spreading his wings more than ever before.

Is my heart ready to do this again? 

The good news? Yes. While there’s a part of me that would love to keep my babies in those sweet elementary years forever, there is such joy watching them come into their own during this formative middle school time. And, thanks to hindsight, I’m grateful to have learned a thing or two as I’ve watched my older kids make this leap. Here are five ideas for preparing for the middle school transition and boosting your child’s confidence in the weeks leading up to the start of school.  

Talk it out.

The hardest part of new beginnings is the fear of the unknown, and the best way to help our kids through their fears is to address them head on. Take some time to ask your new middle schooler about how they are feeling as they get close to the start of school. What are they excited about, and what is making them nervous? Both of my older kids had a huge fear of not being able to open their lockers, so this gave us the opportunity to practice opening their locks at home, while talking through the “what ifs” so that they had a plan in case their worst case scenario came true. These discussions not only gave my kids the confidence to face their fears, but also assured them that they really were going to be okay no matter what. 

Introduce your kiddo to the power of a {paper} calendar.

This may not be the most popular idea among the kid-set, but as an adult with a less than reliable memory, I can attest to the fact that there is power in physically writing things down. And, when it comes to a kid getting used to juggling seven different classes, this habit can be a lifesaver. If your child doesn’t have a calendar, grab a pocket one in the next few weeks for him or her to use at school. Then, set aside a time each week to sit down together and prioritize his studying and homework once school starts. Daily check-ins can also help your kiddos get used to the process of utilizing their calendars to keep up with assignments. I promise that this type of organizational “practice” will pay off in middle school.

Encourage your kids to reach out to their teachers and coaches when they need help.

This is a challenge, even for outgoing kids. Mamas listen: If your older kiddo is having trouble understanding something new in class, for example, resist the urge to swoop in right away and contact the teacher. Instead, encourage your child to reach out on his or her own first! Of course, you can circle back around with the teacher or coach after your child makes the initial contact. But, never underestimate the power of a child learning to advocate for himself. {Spoiler alert: this is the expectation in middle school!}

Plug your kids into activities that connect them with trusted adults {other than you}.

Whether it’s in sports, clubs, or religious environments, there is power in surrounding our kids with positive adult influences. If you’re like me, your worst fear about the teenage years is that when your kids naturally pull away, they’ll start moving in the wrong direction. That is why I am so grateful for the adults within our church and sports communities who have poured into my children’s lives. It’s not only comforting to know that people we trust are looking out for them, but also that my kids know that other adults believe in them. If you start creating safe coalitions of support like this now, your kids will thrive during these pivotal years.

Take care of YOU.

The truth is that this transition is scarier for us moms more than anyone. So, while you encourage your children through this process, don’t be afraid to take care of yourself at the same time. Reach out to other moms who have walked this path ahead of you. Ask for advice and guidance. Look into the resources your middle school offers to help its parents. You may even find that jumping in and volunteering at your new school helps ease your anxiety about this transition. Whatever you do, just don’t neglect the things that will help you in the midst of this big change for your baby.

Do you have a middle school-aged son or daughter? Are you a mama who is getting ready to make this leap in a few weeks? We’d love to hear your thoughts on how to thrive during this transition.  

For even more school planning help, be sure to check out some of our other great articles here.

How to Survive the Leap to Middle School