Supporting 5th Graders Moving to Middle School

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Lockers, and Bathrooms, and Swirlies, Oh My!

The year is flying! February is half over and before you know it spring break will be upon us. Once students and staff return in early April, much of the focus in buildings turns to end of year activities: completing units and projects, counting down to the last day of school, end of year parties, and summer plans.

What teachers and administrators may not realize is that 5th graders, while excited about summer break, may be harboring fears about middle school.

Questions like:

"Will I have classes with my friends?"

"Will I be able to open my locker?"

"Will I be able to find the bathrooms?"

"Will I get bullied by the older kids?" and

"Do they really give the new kids swirlies?" are present in student's minds.

The majority of the 5th grade concerns are social/emotional in nature and not academic. These unexpressed emotions often manifest themselves through poor behavior, absences, and withdrawing from learning.

So, what can your building do to help calm your 5th graders fears and give them a positive first impression of middle school? Your Elementary PWR Coordinators have compiled ideas and resources that offer fresh ideas and suggestions to compliment what you already do for middle school transitions. We hope you find this information useful and PoWeRful!

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5 Ideas for Fun, Positive, and Engaging Transitions!

1. Review: To help teachers better support students with transitioning, it's important to reconnect with their mindset. Reviewing child development milestones will help teachers understand where students are socially and emotionally.

Review milestones at:

2. Introduce transitions early in the year, in your building: This gives students more time to understand the process and ask questions. While in your building, students still have trusted adults to help them navigate the change. Classroom discussions and class visits from middle school student ambassadors are great ways to kick off transitioning!

Also, and this is important, be aware of your students concerns (spoken or unspoken) and use positive, accurate, and affirming language about middle school.

3. Collaborate with the middle school: Plan a variety of events and social activities that give students and families access to the middle school they will attend. Events like ice cream socials, picnics, evening tours, activity fairs, and orientation programs give students and families multiple opportunities to visit the school, meet staff, and let students see the space for themselves. Try to include a transition calendar in your newsletter!

For more ideas check out:

4. Utilize Elementary School Alumni: Bring back 6th graders from your school to visit with current 5th graders. Familiar faces and peer-to-peer conversations go a long way to easing student anxiety. If visits are too difficult to arrange time to Skype, start a letter writing exchange, or a google classroom forum to get questions answered.

5. Communicate middle school "First Day" plans: For a variety of reasons students may not attend any transition activities or events for middle school. While it's ideal and beneficial for students to participate, circumstances prevent this from happening. Assuring students, while they are in elementary school, that they will be taken care of on their first day of middle school will put them at ease. Providing answers to the following questions is a big help for students, families, and the middle school!

Are new 6th graders alone in the building on the first day of school?

Are tours available for new students and those who could not attend prior events?

Will the middle school have WEB Leaders or Student Ambassadors available to help students?

Find out and pass this information along to your students before they leave you!

Your PWR Elementary Coordinators are working behind the scenes with schools to support transitions. If you have questions or concerns please call or email us. We're here to help make your 5th grade transitions PoWeRful!

Communties E & S: Katie Gianatasio-

Communities A & L: Pam Rouch-

Community P: Fatimah Ben-Masaud-

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