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Children are always changing. Their bodies are growing and developing, their minds are learning and making new connections and they are navigating their own roles within their family, peers, and the world in general. In this constant state of internal change, however, big transitions like the one from elementary to middle school can cause undue feelings of stress and anxiety. As parents, it can be difficult to know how to ease these feelings and to help our children find their sure footing.

Here are some ways to make this a positive transition for your child:

  • Provide Structure and Flexibility: Structure and flexibility are more closely intertwined than you might expect. Finding a balance between these two concepts can go a long way with helping your child adjust to a new situation. Providing a certain amount of structure lets your child feel a sense of stability. It’s something that can help to ground them and remind them that not everything is changing. Being flexible helps model for them that change can be a very natural part of life.
  • Allow your Child to Express their Fears: It’s important to let your children talk openly about their fears. It can be tempting to just tell them not to worry about it but dismissing their fears won’t help them to go away. Let them know that you understand that this change can feel scary, and try to identify if there are any particular worries that are troubling them. Let them know that you are there for them and that you will figure out this new experience together.
  • Attend an Open House or try to Tour their New School: Many times, the fear of the unknown is worse than the actual reality. They might be intimidated by how big their new school is, finding and opening their lockers, or having to find their classrooms by themselves. Helping them to practice beforehand and being with them in a quiet environment before all the other kids arrive can help alleviate some of the anxiety they are experiencing.

For many students, the transition from elementary school to middle school can be a big one. There are a number of factors that come into play that can make this change more complex, but supporting your child and taking their fears seriously can help establish a healthy foundation for navigating similar experiences in the future.