With back to school around the corner, we want to make sure that parents and guardians have all the resources they need to support their student’s success this academic year. This is an especially big year for students making the transition from grade school to middle school – there are so many changes! Lockers, more class periods, more demanding schedules, more emphasis on personal responsibility, new students and teachers – the list goes on and on. And even if it isn’t your student’s first year in middle school, each new year presents new challenges.
Changes can seem scary for students and their families alike, but here’s the good news: Neither you nor your student are alone in the quest for success. A whole team works with one common goal in mind – to help students, including your own, thrive. These are the faculty, administrators, and staff at your student’s middle school.
Approaching a new environment with a plan in place is always a good idea. So we’re here to give you a list of the top five people you should meet (and stay in touch with!) at your student’s middle school:
Your student is going to have many new teachers. Their homeroom teacher is the first person they’ll see every day, for a nonacademic advisory period that will typically include announcements and time to catch up on assignments. The homeroom teacher is great to know because that person sets the tone for your student’s day and can be a stabilizing force.
Make an effort to meet each of your student’s teachers during back-to-school night, but two in particular: those who teach your student’s favorite and least favorite subjects. Staying in touch with these two teachers will create a sense of accountability and allow you to stay involved in your student’s progress from home. As much as we nurture a student’s intrinsic passions, we must challenge them intellectually and offer encouragement when things don’t come naturally.
School counselors do so much these days. Not only do they offer emotional support and social guidance, they are often in charge of the class schedules of hundreds of students at once. By communicating with your student’s counselor, you will know what scheduling deadlines are on the horizon and how you can support your student at home. Counselors can also guide you through the process of your student’s choosing an endorsement, or a course of study. This happens in the eighth grade as they prepare for high school.
Sponsor of extracurricular activities
Whether your student is an athlete, musician, thespian, or engaged in any other extracurricular activities, they’re bound to have a sponsor or coach. Have a chat with this person so that you and your student understand the time commitments and expectations associated with an activity before the semester is in full swing. A coach or sponsor will also spend a lot of time with your student, seeing them in action. What makes your student come alive? If your student discovers a true love or aptitude for an extracurricular activity and is curious about what that could mean for their future, we encourage them to check out MapMyGrad. It starts with a quiz and leads to a suggested endorsement and a list of career possibilities.
So much of emotional health is dictated by whole-body health. Making contact with the school nurse is worthwhile, especially if your student has allergies, special needs, chronic illness, or medication that is needed during the school day. This relationship will afford you a lot of peace of mind!
Front office and auxiliary staff
These are the folks who make the school go ’round! Find out who to talk to if you need to drop off your student’s lunch or a change of clothes, or where to go if you need to pick them up early. Become familiar with the daily bell schedule and save important numbers in your phone. Say hello to the cafeteria staff and bus drivers. These folks serve as temporary guardians and nurturers to your student all day long. If you appreciate them, so will your student!
Remember – you aren’t alone when it comes to ensuring a fruitful middle school experience for your student. For extra support in preparing for the transition from middle school to high school, we’ve put together something called the Middle School Family Guide. This document lets parents know who to talk to, what questions to ask, and when to begin those discussions with counselors. Download it for free today. We encourage you to share it with a friend!