The Transition to Sixth Grade

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Amy Specter, Counselor, King Middle School
amyspecter@berkeley.net

Think back to when you started middle school or junior high. Do you remember how you felt? Were you excited? Scared? Anxious? Worried? Confident? A little bit of everything? Chances are, your new 6th grader is a jumble of feelings right now. The transition to 6th grade can be daunting and overwhelming, but it can also be exciting and empowering. Here are some ways to help your new middle schooler get off to great start:

  • Revel in routines. Having a set schedule and predictable routines can make all of the difference during times of big change. Consider writing down your daily or weekly schedule and reviewing what is happening each day. Knowing what to expect is comforting.
  • Leave time for Listening. Set aside some time to talk about the new school year. Practice just listening and refrain from giving advice or problem solving. Sometimes kids just want to get something off their chest and having a quiet sounding board can help them unload. For great tips on how to talk to teens check out the classic book How to Talk So Teens will Listen and Listen so Teens will Talk.
  • Field new friendships. One near-universal given in middle school is that friendships shift. Help your teen navigate the shifting sands of adolescent friendships by encouraging new connections, hosting people over at your house, and setting up group activities like movie outings and hikes.
  • Solicit support. Know when to ask for help. If your student is not sleeping, experiencing physical symptoms of stress, crying frequently or otherwise in distress then seek out more support. Talk to his or her teachers, school counselor, pediatrician, etc. to help get everything going smoothly again.

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