Amy Beairl, of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. (pop. 16,542), was concerned her oldest son, Isaac, 12, would get lost in the crowd when he entered middle school last year.
Hes a quiet, straight-A student, says Beairl, a 36-year-old mother of two. And he would be the youngest in the school, she adds, noting that the middle school was much larger than Isaacs elementary school.
Beairls concerns are understandable. Adjusting to a new school can be stressful for children, regardless of their age.
Middle school social life can be tough to connect with, and every effort parents make to facilitate this process will pay huge rewards, says Jeff Ullrey, a counselor at C.R. Anderson Middle School in Helena, Mont. (pop. 25,780).
Whether a child is changing schools during or at the beginning of the school year, parents can help ease the transition. Ullrey offers these tips:
- Before switching schools, make sure the student tours the school and meets the new schools counselor. Counselors can help kids connect with a group or another new student. If possible, introduce the child to their new teachers, Ullrey says. Beairl says attending an open house was helpful for her son.
- Encourage your child to get involved in extracurricular activities as soon as possible. Isaac, who already played baseball and basketball, took up football in middle school. It brought new friends, Beairl says.
Be empathetic. Provide a listening ear and keep a close eye on their transition, but resist the urge to hover too much, Ullrey advises.
Beairl says Isaac made a smooth transition in a matter of days. Soon he was one of the most talkative kids in class.