BY NANCY SCHRINER
The middle of August always sneaks up on you. One week, it’s pool parties, and the next, it’s the shock of new classrooms. Anxious to make a good impression, sweaty palms, nervous energy, racing heartbeats, and feelings of trepidation—these are the feelings your child most likely has when facing a transition to a new school environment. “For those beginning preschool, initial demands of following others’ directives, mixing with other children, and structure of time are encountered,” says Dr. Corkery. “Taking turns and sharing are also good lessons to teach prior to making these transitions for the first time.”
No matter how old your child is, transitions can be hard. Here are a few guidelines to help parents prepare themselves and their child for academic transitions:
Young students generally make smoother transitions into school when they have
experienced pre-K or summer day care programs. Kindergarten is a new step,
however, so you should talk with your child honestly about what he can expect
in the new environment. Keep it positive! Here are some tips for making it
Tour the school, visit his classroom, meet his teacher and/or other children
who will be in his class.
few weeks before the start of school put your child to bed and wake him up at
the time it will be when he starts
Practice laying out school clothes the night before and having your child get
dressed in the morning.
~ When the big day arrives, don’t sneak out
the back door after delivering him to the school!
Let your child know when school begins and ends each day.
Make a point to say goodbye as you leave.
If you adequately prepare your child for this day by discussing what he’s excited or concerned about, chances are, any tears that are shed will be yours and not your child’s!
The transition between elementary school and middle school is probably the scariest one for your child because he is not only moving from one school to another, but will be experiencing physical, emotional, and social changes. Your child will go from being at the top of the ladder in elementary school to the lowest rung in middle school, which is in itself traumatic.
Visiting the school during open house is always a good idea so he can meet teachers and
classmates ahead of time. Staying in touch with your child’s teachers is also
critical. Sharing via e-mail can make this process easier by addressing
problems in a timely manner. Dr. Steven Corkery, Lead Psychologist of Bibb
County Schools encourages parents to “sign up for Parent Portals to track their
child’s progress, grades and expectations of them through internet
connections.” He continues, “teachers typically can reply to an e-mail much
quicker than a phone call.”
Social changes can be very frustrating for a tween, so encourage your child to get
involved in extra-curricular activities. Athletics, music groups, and clubs of
all kinds will be offered. Many exciting adventures, field trips and just plain
fun will give your child the chance to experience new things while meeting
friends with similar interests. Having the opportunity to try new skills will
keep your tween busy and engaged.
Just like the other school transitions, teens leave middle school as the oldest students and arrive in high school as the youngest. This can be difficult again because the emphasis in high school tends to be placed on learning individual academic subjects. The work load is rigorous, and your child may be tempted to disengage and lose motivation when it increases.
Lynne Adams, Director of Admissions at Tattnall Square Academy says, “Students who
get involved in an extra-curricular activity during the summer definitely make
a smoother transition into the school year. Getting involved in the summer
allows the students to become familiar with their peer group and the layout of
the campus, all of which contribute to a smooth transition” Even if the summer
activities and the fall school of attendance are not the same, the controlled
activites of the summer make for a smoother transition to academics in the fall.
With each of these transitions, the most important partnership is between you and
your child. Assure him that whatever happens at school will always be a concern
of yours and that you will be with him working to resolve any issues that may
Transitions can be smooth if you make careful preparations. Don’t assume your child,
however old, can navigate these waters without you. If this is a transition year for your child, smooth the way for him, walk with him, and keep a sharp eye on him to ensure a safe, happy, and successful experience this year.