For What's Ahead Blog

How to Help Your Student Manage Transitions

Posted by Martha Metzler, Upper School Counselor on May 23, 2018 9:50:19 AM

Many parents have experienced numerous transitions whether it’s moving to a new place, starting a new job, or even becoming a parent. While we know that transitions can be hard, we also know that with thought and planning—along with good support and a good attitude—transitions can be made easier.

Transitioning to middle school and high school can be a big deal. Your child may be worried about the next step and the new challenges he or she may face. Let’s talk about what you can expect as a parent and how you can help your child manage transitions.

So what types of change will your child face and how can you help?

The Middle School Transition

3Y7A1200Middle School years are a time of great growth in cognitive, social, and physical development. During this time children interact with more peers and more teachers. There are increased expectations for both performance and individual responsibility. Also, physical, emotional, and social maturity are occurring and all of the roller coasters those changes bring. At this time, most children are trying to establish independence and separate themselves from their parents.

The Upper School Transition

During high school, students experience more freedom with study halls and lunch time. They have opportunities to connect and collaborate with students from all grades. Self-advocacy with teachers, courses, and electives begins in high school. Students are expected to manage their course load as well their involvement in clubs and extracurricular activities. Time management becomes very important and many students find it challenging to squeeze everything into one day.

What can you do to help your child during transitions?

Tips for Parents

  • Encourage children to try new things and to regard failure as a necessary part of learning and growing.
  • Become knowledgeable about the needs and concerns of young adolescents in transition.
  • Help children turn their anxieties into positive action by learning about school rules, schedules, locker procedures and the availability of counseling.
  • Attend school functions and stay involved in children's schooling.
  • Support children in their efforts to become independent.
  • Maintain strong family connections with young adolescents.
  • Be alert to signs of depression or anxiety in their children and seek help.
  • Continue traditions even in the midst of schedule changes.
  • Always foster a safe place for your child to talk through any bumps that inevitably come with change.
  • Recognize and show appreciation for contributions your child makes, especially for those that require independence.
  • Set limits and rules where appropriate.

transition quotes with borderAt FCDS, we are aware that transitions from one division to the next can make students unsure about what to expect and perhaps nervous about the next step. So we’ve put several strategies into place to make transitions easier for our students.

How FCDS Supports the Transition to Middle School

  • Orientations and Middle School visits: Middle School Exploration Day and 4th Grade Visit Day
  • Collaboration among Lower and Middle School teachers, students, and parents.
  • Ongoing discussion among the 5th grade team about the needs and concerns of young adolescents in transition.
  • Dedicated Middle School counselor and guidance classes
  • Middle School Ambassadors
  • Cooperative learning to teach peer-to-peer interaction

How FCDS Supports the Transition to Upper School

  • Orientations and A Day in the Upper School
  • Back to School Social
  • Collaboration and team planning among Upper and Middle School teachers
  • Dedicated Upper School counselor “check-ins” with new students and all 9th graders throughout the first quarter
  • Cooperative learning in classes to teach peer-to-peer interaction
  • Advisor Lunch with 8th grade in the spring
  • Upper School Ambassadors
  • Club Fair

We believe it’s important to recognize and support student transitions. If you or your child have any concerns about what’s next, please reach out to one of our counselors, advisors, or division directors. We’re here to prepare your child for what’s ahead!


Source: Supporting Students in their Transition to Middle School

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