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School Stories

Partnering with Educators in the Transition From Lower School to Middle School

By Kimm Lucas, Grade 5 English Teacher
Picture this… for the past five years, you have been walking your child into school, likely holding their hand and maybe their backpack, and always getting a hug and kiss goodbye. By the time your kiddo is in fourth grade, they might be telling you to simply drop them off in the carpool line. Your first reaction might be, “This is different. I’m not sure about this. Why don’t you want me to walk in with you?” 
Then, after a while, you might get used to it and be able to head off on your morning a few minutes earlier. While it might feel hard to let go at first, the Grade 5 MESH team will tell you that kids are ready for more autonomy in Middle School.We remind parents that if they find themselves with a glue gun in one hand and scissors in the other, ready to take over the class project their child is struggling through, the parent is too invested in the work. Likewise, if a parent finds themselves eagerly awaiting the rubric results on an English paragraph or the score of a math test, they probably could take a step back and let their child absorb and then share the results.

Middle School is a time of transition for both parents and students. Whether it’s changing classrooms between classes, having more homework, remembering to charge the iPad nightly, or saying goodbye at the gate rather than the classroom, there are a lot of changes. In addition, there will likely be regular discussions about what clothing to wear, a newfound interest and “need” for their own tech, such as a mobile phone, and more group hangouts rather than playdates. Some children embrace these changes head-on, while others might struggle at different points with the teenage elements they now face more regularly. These “steps” are all real, challenging, and part of growing up as a middle schooler and a Middle School parent. 

Let’s be real and admit it’s hard to let go and let kids thrive on their own. Whether it’s the first time your child looks you in the eyes and says, “I got this. You can stay at the gate today. I want to walk in by myself,” or the reality of kids heading off to their next steps in life, these changes can make even those early sleepless nights with an infant seem easy. In this article, you will find ten simple but effective ways to partner with Graland educators as your child transitions from Lower School to Middle School. I hope they will encourage you to be a cheerleader in your child’s growth mindset and that these efforts will lead to greater self-awareness, connectedness, a growing sense of independence, and resilience. 

The shift from Lower School to Middle School is often a time of joy, sometimes a period of frustration, but a stage of growth for not only students but families as well. Remember, Middle School is an exciting time, but sometimes looking back longingly at playground recesses and having one classroom as a home base is common. Graland educators and families often know what is best for students, and partnering with educators and others in the school community can help to make this change smoother. 

 Mrs. Lucas’ Top 10 Tips for Helping Your Child Transition to Middle School:
  1. Foster independence in your child and hype up their first overnight trip to La Foret. Hug them goodbye and wave enthusiastically as the buses depart from Cranmer Park. 
  2. Build a routine of reading or listening to a novel with your child. Whether this is a read-aloud or family book club, this is a wonderful way to stay connected. They might say they’re too old to be read to, but they’re not too old to read along!
  3. Support your learner in preparing for a history quiz by making flashcards. Celebrate their perseverance in studying. A mixture of tech, and old-fashioned hand-written note cards often make for a successful study session in Middle School. 
  4. Label the kitchen in Spanish or French to grow your child’s vocabulary and improve your world language knowledge before the next family vacation. Be curious and learn the language together!
  5. Consider supplying food for an advisory breakfast and show how acts of kindness show empathy for others. 
  6. Sign the whole family up for a service learning opportunity sponsored by the Graland Parent Association (GPA) to further cultivate your child’s sense of compassion. Weekend events like this promote stronger relationships between families and the school community.  
  7. Encourage participation in new activities such as Gates Invention and Innovation program, the musical, a creative writing club, or a Math Olympiad. Honor your child’s individuality by letting them choose what to participate in rather than deciding for them. 
  8. Allow your child to have more agency. Encourage them to advocate for themselves by talking to a teacher about an assignment or a planned absence from school. Follow up with an email or phone call to the teacher to make a parent inquiry, but let your child begin to establish their own voice. 
  9. Allow your middle schooler to be responsible for their backpack, iPad, and other learning materials. If they forget something at home one day, let them figure out how to make it through a day of learning without the essentials and develop independence in being prepared for school. 
  10. Let your child experience failure, whether missing the mark on a class project or not getting their dream role in the musical. Our kids become more resilient when they learn that failure is a part of life and will only strengthen them. 

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1927, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.