As my son is getting ready to start seventh grade, I started thinking about back-to-school last year when he was getting ready to enter middle school. Leaving elementary school and moving on to middle school was an adventure that he was very excited to make and luckily he had a great year last year!
Although it was very exciting, entering Middle School has a very different feel than elementary school, and there are many differences that the kids need to get used to. Here are a few of the ‘biggies’ that I heard about:
For the first time ever, 6th graders in our town get their own lockers. This meant 2 things: they needed to be able to manipulate a combination lock AND they had to know their schedule for each day (our town uses a 6 day rotating class schedule) and figure out when was the next time they would be able to get back to their lockers to pick up different books. The locker seemed to cause some kids a lot of panic because they were nervous that they wouldn’t be able to open their locker or would forget something for an upcoming class. The teachers were wonderful with this transition for the kids and gave them a lot off leeway for the first two weeks. After that, the kids were basically ‘out of luck’ because they needed to be responsible for having what they needed for class. If their homework was in their locker, they would not be able to go back there during class – they would turn in the homework the next day and it would be marked as ‘late’. Definitely taught responsibility…. and guess what, the kids stepped up.
Instead of sitting in one classroom for most of the day, the kids changed classrooms (and teachers) every 42 minutes. The biggest adjustment here was having to get to know many teachers personalities and teaching styles. This was great in my opinion because that is life. Some teachers are strict and some are laid back, some grade harder than others. In addition, there are different kids in each class. My son quickly learned who were the studious kids, who were the goof offs and who were the ‘class clowns’.
There are many different projects assigned in middle school, many of which are group projects. Kids will learn that who they pair up with is important. Some kids take advantage of their ‘partners’ and let them do the vast majority of the work. My son got caught in this situation just once. After he realized that not all kids work the same as he does, he quickly learned that picking the right partner can make the difference in getting to share the workload, or having to do the project by himself and having someone else get the same grade as he did for all of his hard work.
Beyond changing classes, the variety of classes the kids get to experience is much greater. For the first time our sixth graders get to take a half year of a language, health class, family & consumer science (shop class & sewing), and keyboarding. This added variety in the day gives the kids more exposure to what high school might be like. In addition, he was exposed to many more children from town since the ‘specials’ classes were not ‘leveled’ like his core academic classes.
In our town, lunch in the cafeteria is managed in ‘waves’. The cafeteria is much bigger, with better selections of food than there was in elementary school. Problem is, there are many more kids in the cafeteria at the same time so even that time has to be managed. Again, the teachers were great with the 6th graders at first and would give them extra time to navigate the cafeteria world for the first few weeks. After that, they needed to figure out if it is a better option for them to bring their lunch so they could eat right away, or if they wanted to ‘buy’ lunch and risk having very little time to eat. Don’t worry, kids figure it out and strategically pick the shortest lines. I never heard that a kid didn’t have time to eat!
For the first time, our kids change their clothes in the locker room for gym. I didn’t hear much about this process from my son, but the teacher did ask that the parents make sure the kids bring in clean clothes every now and again (11 year old boys are content wearing the same gym clothes for WAY TOO long). In addition he asked that we send our child in to school with some deodorant so they kids could ‘freshen up’ after gym since there are no showers available. We will leave the adventure of showering after gym class for High School!!!
HOMEWORK / STUDY PERIOD
Homework / Study Period – Homework!!! Coming from his elementary school where there wasn’t much homework, this was the biggest adjustment in our house. But in reality, even this was adjusted to quickly. Luckily there is a ‘study period’ built into the school day, and he took full advantage of that time to get homework done. He was especially careful to complete homework from the classes that gave homework out of their text books. The fewer books he had to bring home the better since his backpack was always really heavy – the trapper keeper alone took up most of his backpack! The more homework he finished in study hall, the less there was to do at home….
Although it’s a very different atmosphere than elementary school, middle school is a child’s first chance to really be treated more like an adult. Even though that is a scary thought for some parents, the fact that the teachers treat them more grown up helps them to ACT more grown up. Embrace the freedom this will give your child and encourage them to do their very best. If the teachers trust them, it must be because they can handle it.
If you will be sending your child off to Middle School this year, I wish them (and you) the best as your child embarks on this exciting new time in their life!
Anne-Marie Dunn is the owner of www.BaptismalGownsPlus.com
Please feel free to visit our website to see our complete selection of Baptismal and First Communion attire for boys and girls. Feel free to comment on this post or send us an e-mail at Support@BaptismalGownsPlus.com to let us know what you think.