The transition from elementary school to middle school is considered a major milestone in every student’s life. It is as though your student has just worked seven years at the same company and now must move to another company. Instead of one boss he now has five or six bosses. Instead of working in one office for most of the day he must move to other offices every hour, five or six times. To make matters worse, if he or she is late getting to any of his offices his punishment could be time spent in his office after work and usually in a different office with other tardy workers.

I think you get the point about how difficult the transition from elementary school to middle school can be. Therefore, parents need to be keenly aware of this period and that his student may experience high levels of stress until he has successfully made the adjustment to middle school. For some students, this adjustment could take a few months. For others, it could even be even more extensive. The longer the adjustment, the greater the distraction from your student’s learning potential and developing intelligence.

Erik Erikson, the noted social psychologist, called the 7 to 11 year old stage “industry versus inferiority,” (elementary school) and the 11 year old and older stage “identity versus role confusion” (middle school). For the middle school student “role confusion” can come from many different sources. For instance, the difference in the physical size of middle schoolers is particularly difficult. Being undersized can attract harassment from bigger students; being oversized, adults often assume greater maturity and expectation.

I like to compare the middle school period to a child standing on two blocks of ice. On one block is the pull of childhood and on the other block is the pull of adulthood. The problem — the blocks are pulling him in two different directions. Therefore, the major goal for parents is to listen to the gripes of your middle school student with a sympathetic ear as he tries juggling his new identity with bouts of role confusion in the new school.

Another suggestion is for parents to maintain contact with their student’s middle school teachers. If your student is being harassed, do not wait until conference week but be proactive immediately. A week of pain can affect a child’s learning potential and intelligence for the whole year.

A further adjustment that is often overlooked by middle school students is opening their lockers! If they only have a few minutes to get to a class located in some distant building and they can’t open the lockers, at this age, they would rather end up in class late, than without the needed material for class. Suggestion: Have them practice their combination locks at home. In addition, a good locker and/or time management strategy is for your student is to color code their different notebooks and/or book covers so they can quickly grab the needed book, thus saving time in getting to class.

Moreover, don’t buy backpacks that can store 50 pounds of materials! The bigger the pack, the more they will put in it. The smaller the pack, the better the organization.

Furthermore, be sure to purchase a large wall calendar to hang on your student’s bedroom wall. A wall calendar is an excellent strategy to remind students about important homework assignments and activities as well as thinking about the future.

Also, in elementary school your student was given grades with checks or check pluses for excellent. In middle school they grade with letters and in-between grades like A- and so forth.

Last by not least, there is no recess. He or she will most likely have a short 15-minute break and a 40-minute lunch period. Thus, be sure he has a good breakfast, and a good snack to nourish him until lunchtime

I have only touched on a few adjustments your student will need to make in his transition to middle school. E-mail my blog with any suggestions that I have missed: davidsortino.com or contact me at davidsortino@comast.net.