Transition to Middle School: What (YOU?) A Parent Needs to Know
Making the Change From Elementary to Middle School, And Preparing Your Student for What’s Ahead to Transition to Middle School
Back-to-school, and the transition to middle school to Middle School is arguably the most significant academic transition in the K-12 years. Starting in Middle School, there are two significant shifts in educational approach:
The first significant departure point from elementary school is that starting in Middle School, there is a general shift away from skill-based to content-focused curriculums.
Instead of learning to read, students read to learn. In elementary school, students learn comprehension strategies to aid in the understanding of a text; for example, connecting one piece of information with that already known. In Middle School, students are expected to apply these strategies when reading a textbook so they can understand what they are reading.
Three important implications of a content-focused curriculum include:
- Certain skills are taught, but often less explicitly;
- More is left for the student to figure out;
- Students are expected to understand what they read, heard, saw, and apply this understanding to homework, tests, projects, and most importantly to use as a platform for new information.
The second major shift in Middle School is in the manner of how subjects are taught.
In elementary school, students spend the majority of the day with a single teacher who instructs all of the core subjects. The teacher not only delivers academic instruction, but takes on many other roles as well, such as managing a students’ entire academic life and emotional well-being while at school. In addition, the teacher also serves as the primary communication liaison between parent and school so as to ensure a positive all-around experience.
In Middle School, this all changes.
Middle school teachers are often responsible for teaching a single subject. While a student will be assigned a guidance counselor or advisor to help manage other facets of school life, such as emotional well-being, the student takes on a bigger responsibility—assuming a greater role in their own educational experience, in a move toward independence.
This is a deliberate and necessary transition, which prepares students for the rigors of high school and young adulthood.
What does all of this mean exactly?
A smooth transition results from a student’s ability to navigate the new landscape. To do that well, a student needs to develop, apply and master the following skills:
Although these concepts were taught in varying degrees in elementary school, in Middle School the student is left to independently apply them to their Middle School work. For many students, even the best students, many of these changes can be overwhelming.
Download our free ebook to read more about what you can do to ease your student’s transition into middle school.
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