Q. How can parents help kids transition from elementary school to middle school?
A. Here are some suggestions from Dawn Berkowitz-Ader, founder and president of the Port Washington-based GAALS — Girls Athletics And Life Skills.
- Lockers are a new experience, so make sure your child is comfortable opening one. “They have a limited amount of time to get their stuff and get to class,” Berkowitz-Ader says. Practice on a lock at home so executing the combination becomes second nature.
- Moving from classroom to classroom is also a new challenge. Hopefully you’ve already taken your child to the new school before the first day to practice the route from class to class. If they’re still getting lost, take them back after hours to practice walking their schedule.
- Make sure they know who to turn to during the school day for help — be sure they know their guidance counselor’s name and where the school nurse’s office is.
- Help them navigate social anxiety, such as whom they might sit with at lunch. “Many districts have many elementary schools that feed into a middle school,” Berkowitz-Ader says, which means more strange faces. Practice ways students can start conversations, perhaps by complimenting a musical group or sports team on the shirt a new person is wearing if they also are fans, she says. Talk about body language and how they should make sure their arms aren’t crossed and their head isn’t down, she says.
- Time management becomes more complex, as students get different amounts of homework from different teachers and must juggle it all. Guide your child in developing an organized system.
GAALS is offering workshops this month and next specifically for girls transitioning to middle school and their parents; visit gaalsusa.com or call 917-716-5228 for prices and times.