Access to Education

Transitions to Middle School and High School

Dr. Nancy Nestor-Baker
Director, P-12 Project
The Ohio State University

Moving from elementary to middle school or from middle school to high school can create feelings of uncertainty for your child and for you. It is natural to have some concerns about this transition. You can ease your worries by getting information about the school, the students, and the parent opportunities. Talk with your child about what she or he is feeling, share your hopes for his or her success, and make plans for how to become a positive part of this new time in your child’s development.

Visit the New School with Your Son or Daughter

Schedule at least one visit to the new school now or before school begins in the fall. Before you go, talk with your child about what he or she likes best about school and what he or she might be concerned about.

Meet with the principal to talk about the school and its expectations. Ask about the opportunities that are available through the new school, such as clubs, teams, and student organizations. Helping your child get involved in extracurricular academic, social, and athletic opportunities will help the transition be positive. Being involved in activities at school can help young people feel motivated to achieve academically.

Meet guidance counselors and office staff. Your child needs to know who to turn to for help. Sometimes young people have problems in school because they don’t know how to get good information or because they don’t want to talk to people in charge.

Find out how parents can be involved. Call, email, or visit with the president of the parent-teacher organization to talk about parent involvement at the school and about ways you might be able to help. Consider volunteering your time where needed; you have a lot to offer and your help is important.

New Responsibilities

Your child is growing up and will be expected to handle additional responsibility for his or her education. You can be a big help as he or she learns how to shoulder more responsibility.

Take time to meet your child’s teachers and guidance counselor. Learn about the expectations they have for students and about the things your child will learn in the new school year. Talk with your child about those new responsibilities and about how to meet those successfully. Make sure to remind your child about what needs to be done and why it is important.

Support Resources

“Making the Transition”

The Elementary to Middle School Transition: Five Helpful Hints for Parents

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