By: Keith Bartlett, Middle School Counselor and Past MDS Parent
Researchers have found that students moving onto middle school worry about three main aspects of the change: logistical, social, and academic.
LOGISTICS: KNOW YOUR CAMPUS
Advance planning will help to ease some of the anxiety. Take time at the end of the summer to visit the school and help ease some of those first day worries. Have your child include a friend who is a new or current student. Check in at the office if you would like a guided tour or you and your child may want to wander and investigate the campus together. During the first few days at MDS, the middle school teachers will escort your children to their exploratory classes, break, and lunch. So, not knowing where a building is located or being tardy, especially in the first week, will hold no negative consequences.
Navigate the school website with your child. Parents and guardians will have access to grades, homework, projects, tests, special activities, lunch menu and many other bits of helpful information. The student handbook is also available online and is an important source of information which includes dress code regulations, classroom expectations, etc. Parents and students will receive passcodes for electronic resources once classes begin.
I wish I could prepare you and your child for the social changes that occur in middle school: puberty, making friends, emotions, social skills, and the list goes on. Some children will look like they are breezing through everyday life without a care in the world. Never assume that you know what someone is feeling or experiencing. Outward signs are sometimes just that, a show for everyone.
Independence will be one of the biggest adjustments that your child will go through this year which may result in a child pulling away from his parents as they make new friends. Parents, don’t panic! This is normal and doesn’t mean that your relationship with your child is over. The difficulty of finding a balance between parent and confidant can be very elusive. Middle school is a time when your “little baby” will mature. Be prepared to make the jump to your “young lady/young man.” Allow your child to mature and be there for them when they need you.
Encourage your child to try extracurricular activities: new sports, activities, clubs, art, band, chorus, or acting. There are activities at MDS for everyone. It may take some prodding, but it will give your child an increased sense of belonging.
Parents, just as you encourage your children to immerse themselves in MDS life, you, too, should do the same. Take the time to be a part of this wonderful school community. You can volunteer for activities, attend meetings, be present for parent/teacher conferences. Please try to attend our lunch on the lawn events.
Your child has the foundation we feel will bring them success in the classroom, but middle school is a challenge. There are new expectations and many students struggle during the transition from elementary school student to middle school student. To keep your child from becoming overwhelmed, please help your child stay organized.
Checking Moodle every day (student as well as parent) will give both you and your child peace of mind. Upcoming tests, projects or assignments will be posted on Moodle. Your child’s grades can be accessed prior to or after the school day begins. I highly recommend that you check Moodle often.
Encourage your child to be their own advocate. They should speak with their teachers if they have any questions or concerns.
Email your child’s teachers if you ever have a question or issue. Our teachers want to see all of our students succeed.
I hope that your child has a wonderful experience at Mount de Sales Academy. We have uniquely gifted teachers in the middle school who understand what your child will experience this year. I am available for each of our middle school students if they need help, information, or want to discuss any any issues that may arise this year. I am their advocate and sounding board, so they will never have to worry about being disciplined in my office.
Please feel free to contact me in the middle school at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions.