Middle School Survival Guide Challenge No. 1: Negotiating the new environment

This is the first article in a three-part series on helping young students transition from elementary school into middle school – or in the Washington County School District’s case, intermediate school. The following tips have been provided by the Sylvan Learning Center in St. George. 

ST. GEORGE – While it may be summer now, school will begin soon enough. For St. George-area students who said goodbye to elementary school earlier this year, this fall represents the start of a critical transition to middle school.

Middle school means new beginnings, experiences and challenges. And while these changes —new friends, new teachers and new school environment — can be exciting, they also can be a bit unnerving for new middle-schoolers.

“These transition years can be exhilarating and full of promise, but they also can cause some measure of anxiety,” said Clark Hatfield of Sylvan Learning located in St. George.

“Research and common sense tell us that the first year in middle school is critical,” Hatfield said. “During this single year, a new middle-schooler must assimilate, make new friends, set goals, establish new habits and attitudes, take tougher courses, discover talents and interests, learn new skills, and begin to build confidence in this new environment. Making sure a child handles this transition year well should be an important goal for parents. In fact, a primary indicator of a successful middle school experience is a positive transition from elementary school. And the key to that positive transition is good preparation.”

Here are some of the most daunting changes local students will encounter during this year of transition — and some tips from Sylvan Learning on how to work through them successfully.

Challenge: Negotiating the New Environment

The Locker Scare: One of the biggest concerns incoming middle-schoolers have is the locker. Instead of lugging their stuff around in one bag, students now have a place to store everything safely. The best part about the locker is being able to personalize it with photos, drawings, magazine clippings, and anything else that makes it feel comfortable. Ease locker fears and purchase a combination lock and practice before school starts.

New Campus
: If your student has to go to an entirely new school, it may seem overwhelming at first. Explore the school’s website with your child and better yet – explore the new campus.  The better your child understands the school layout and rules, the more at ease she’ll feel on the first day.  Ask the school if there are any campus tours or orientations available to parents and incoming students. Get a map of the campus and take your child to explore. Be sure to check in with the school office to get an OK for your explorations.

New Schedule: With different classes in different rooms on different days, middle school schedules can seem confusing and scary at first. A few weeks before school begins, check with your school to see when schedules are ready so that your child can have some time to get comfortable with the new routine. If your student needs help finding something or keeping track of where he has to be, encourage him to ask a teacher or other school staff for help.

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