Home > School and Learning > Back to School > Transitions > Moving from Middle to High School
|

Moving from Middle to High School

Brought to you by National PTA

Moving Up
The move from middle to high school is one of those times when your child needs you most, but is often too embarrassed to ask for support. You may have noticed that your child is beginning to push away from you. Try to respect this. On the other hand, it's important to balance a respect for your child's desire for independence with a very real need to stay involved in his life and education.

Starting high school is a major rite of passage for adolescents, says George White, associate professor of educational leadership at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and a former middle-school principal. The social and emotional fears that incoming freshmen deal with can have a direct impact on their academic performance.

Changes at School
The difference in size of your child's old and new schools can have a big impact on her transition, says school psychologist Sal Severe, author of How to Behave So Your Child Will, Too! Kids from smaller school districts may face a kind of culture shock in large, regional high schools. Larger class sizes, more students, a bigger campus, and teaching styles more focused on the subject matter than the needs of individual students can be difficult for incoming freshmen.

"Parents should expect schools to provide a protective growth environment" for incoming freshmen, George White says. The developmental divide between ninth-graders, who could be as young as 14, and upperclassmen, who could be over 18, can be extreme. Exceptionally bright ninth-graders can end up in classes with much older teens and may be unprepared socially. "There's a wide range of social development in high school. What you have to have is a socially safe place for younger individuals."

Ninth-graders also face a big step down in social status, going from the top of the heap in their previous school to the lowest rung in high school. They arrive as the new kids, the young ones, the ones who don't know what's what and who's who.

Tips for Parents
It's important to keep the lines of communication open with your child throughout this period. White likens this to the experience of learning how to ride a bicycle. "When I learned to ride a bike, my father ran behind me with his hand on the seat. When I could ride without his support, he still ran behind me for a while." Although your child is becoming independent, she needs support during the process that only you, as a parent, can provide.

Sometimes parent involvement drops off because parents feel their children don't want them to be around so much. "Kids want their parents involved; they just want them to be involved in a different way," White says. For example, your teen may not mind if you act as a chaperone on a school trip, as long as you ride on a different bus than him.

Parent involvement can also take a number of forms at home. There are plenty of ways to spend time with your child and get to know her friends. Suggest that she invite her friends over to watch movies or hang out. As the kids drift in and out of the kitchen for snacks, take the opportunity to ask your child's friends casual, non-intrusive questions to get a sense of who they are, and to send your child the message that you care.

Excerpted from "School Transitions: Middle School to High School," published in National PTA's Our Children magazine.

More on: High School

|


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

3 Fun Thanksgiving Games for Kids
Looking for some great Thanksgiving games to play with your kids? Print our free Pin the Feathers on the Turkey game, Pin the Hat on the Pilgrim game, and Thanksgiving Parade Bingo game for loads of laughs this Turkey Day!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Surprising Sources of Caffeine in Kids' Foods
Even low doses of caffeine can have an effect on your child's health. Since the FDA doesn't require caffeine content on food labels, learn about hidden sources of caffeine in kids' diets.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!