With children, transitions are a constant, and it’s the big milestones that we parents so easily recall. Babies smile, eat, and crawl, and those are huge events. Toddlers walk, grow teeth, potty train and talk – wow. Then little ones start school with preschool, kindergarten, and who doesn’t remember that very first day of their child’s 1st grade? Seems like yesterday.
Elementary school has its transitions, all of them fun and important. On one hand they go by slowly – after all, children are there for about five or six years. On the other hand, it’s over in the blink of an eye. And then? Middle school.
That’s where I venture with my oldest next year. The past several weeks of school have been spent preparing our kids for the changes ahead. There will be completely new classroom settings, where the kids switch teachers and subjects throughout the day. Counselors, principals, specialist teachers – all different. Even the library and cafeteria will be new for these students, as they transition from one section of the large building to a completely different one – physically, only steps away; mentally, a world apart.
Students will now have an opportunity to try interesting subjects by selecting their own “enrichment” classes. Parents are encouraged to step back from that process and allow the kids to branch out a bit. Study habits, of course, will be a necessary change as the workload will increase accordingly, and with their own laptops to take responsibility for both at school and at home, it becomes a bigger step. And now, lockers!
It’s all very exciting for the kids. Sure, there are some nerves now that will continue in August when school begins. But it’s a new transition, and a huge new milestone.
As a parent of an almost middle schooler, I’m in awe. I’m nervous for her, with no real need to be. I’m uncomfortable not knowing about the differences I should expect, and I’m not even the one going to school. But mostly I’m struck by this new chapter in our family, for our firstborn. Days ago, wasn’t it, that she was just learning to walk and talk? And now with her growth and independence emerging so quickly, it’s something I’m both proud and wistful to see.
Welcome to Middle School.