How to Help Your Children Make Big Transitions in School

Amy Adamle
Created: September 10, 2018 09:35 AM

It's been a busy week for many families heading back to school and adjusting to a new morning routine.  It's an adjustment period not only for students but for families too. 


This week on Good Morning Northland, we are sitting down with people who know about kids and the challenges they're facing.  On Monday, we sat down with John Bauman who is an Assistant Professor of Education at the College of St. Scholastica and a licensed elementary teacher and k-12 principal with years of experience helping families transition into new experiences.  He said this time of year is crazy, but the pressures are different for kids at different ages. 

"Kids go through different developmental stages where their friendships are changing, their family dynamics are changing, and their brains are changing as they learn more," Bauman said.  

For some kindergartners just starting out, separation anxiety is very real.

"The biggest thing they can do is talk up school, talk about how much fun it is, how getting to know new people is going to be a great experience, and try not to linger when they drop off their kiddo," Bauman said.  

A full day of kindergarten also requires a different type of stamina kids might not have had before.  Bauman said the stamina they need to have that level of energy is important, but teachers know how to address that with having down times and busy times. He also said it's great for them to have stamina, but a nap after school is great too. 

For parents, helping them transition gently into school and back home so they don't have to be "on-call" constantly, helps.

Transitioning from elementary school to middle school is a different type of adjustment. 

"Middle schoolers are really trying to identify who they are, in that process, in the group dynamic of school and the family dynamic as well," Bauman said.  "As long as we're supportive and encouraging them to try new things and really think about what they're doing and what the consequences of their behaviors might be, it really helps kiddos think through that process and be successful in the transition."

Academically, going from elementary school to middle school is an adjustment as well.  Bauman said middle schoolers are often finding their strengths and weaknesses more during this time. 

"It's really important for parents to help their middle schoolers understand that it just takes more work to address those challenge areas, and the strength areas, they come easily," Bauman said. 

The transition to high school is another adjustment for students.  Bauman said it's important that students fail sometimes and that adults help them grow through them and learn from them. 

"They start narrowing down their choices, they start finding those strengths, the passions that they have, and they start following those passions and it's important to let them ebb and flow through those passions and find things that are interesting," Bauman said. 

High school is also a time when students are growing into their social circles and molding more friendships. 

"In elementary and middle school, many times parents have a lot of the input on who the friends are, in high school, they transition into more of who they want to hang out with and many times it's associated with activities like the arts, or math club, or sports, or work, so it's important that the parents give the kiddos some flexibility to find out who good friends would be, who would be supportive, and who wouldn't be a healthy choice," Bauman said. 


Amy Adamle

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