For the past few months, I have been waking up in cold sweats at night over the realization that my baby boy graduated from elementary school! He will be entering middle school this fall. Just when we finally figured out the whole IEP process, we have to leave behind the comfort of elementary school with our special resource teacher and enter the foreign world of secondary schools. Middle school will bring a new building, new teachers, new rules and a slew of new HORMONES to deal with. However, with a little extra preparation and a bit of parental advocacy, the concept of middle school transitions doesn’t have to be so daunting.
Middle School Transitions – Time for a Parental Field Trip
Before your IEP transition meeting, do yourself a favor and tour the middle school your child will be attending, without your child.
Ask to see what an inclusion classroom looks like compared to a self-contained one.
See how lockers are arranged and where bathrooms and counselors offices are in relation to the lockers.
In other words get a picture in your head of how the school is laid out. You will be surprised how just seeing the school and how it runs will alleviate much of your own anxiety.
Learn Your ABCs for Middle School Transitions
Well really just you’re A’s and B’s. For us, one of the biggest differences between elementary school and middle school is that most school days are broken into A days and B days. Each day will consist of 4 -90 minute blocks.
Example: Your child may have English, History, PE and Chorus on A days. Math, Art, Science and English on B days. (NOTE: At many schools, 6th grade English is on both days thus the repeat in the example schedule.)
The more familiar you get with the concept of A and B days, the easier it will be for you to help your child get the hang of it.
If your child’s schedule is not like this, another helpful hint is to print out and laminate your child’s schedule. Post the schedule in their locker and inside each class binder so your child can refer to it should they forget what they have on what day.
Ask Away for Middle School Transitions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask for things that you feel will make your child’s transition easier. Be sure to request that these things be written into your child’s IEP during your transitioning meeting.
It’s always better to have too much than not enough. Little things, like requesting to have a set of books for home. This way, your child does not have to lug them back and forth. Also, your child can avoid getting reprimanded for forgetting to bring home or bring back a particular book.
Another little request is to ask for a locker on the end near the bathrooms.
Request that your child get a few extra minutes and/or help transitioning from class to class the first few weeks.
These little things can make a huge difference for your child.
Explore More >> Parental Sanity Check for Middle School Transitions
Practice Safe Cracking for Middle School Transitions
Go out and buy a combination lock and have your child PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE with it for the remainder of the summer. The biggest fear that most kids have (General Ed and those with IEPs) is the dreaded locker locks and getting to class on time.
Most kids can get the numbers part, but it is the right- left -right thing that throws them off.
If practicing for weeks still leaves your child frustrated, make sure to talk to the school about alternatives such as a word combination lock or a key lock.
Explore More >> Time Management for Middle School Students
Middle School Transitions – Check it Once, Check it Twice
Not whether your child is on the naughty or nice list. I’m talking your child’s schedule when you finally get it in the mail.
Make sure that all those IEP services that you worked so hard to get included are there! If they are, great! Now you can take that schedule and your child to the school before the school year starts and walk them through it.
I suggest doing their A day schedule one day and then going back to do their B one. The good thing about this is that you are bound to see some of the teachers there. Although the teachers will be busy and may not be able to meet with you, at least your child will be able to put a face to a name.
With these little tips and a lot of open communication with your case manager, your child will be on their way to a successful Middle School experience. Explore the wonderful resource below to help set your child up for success!
Pay Attention! School-Based Strategies Using Apps, Visual Exercises, Primitive Reflexes, and Sensory Tools (6-hour course)
Do you work with a child that has difficulty paying attention? No matter what type of academic task a child is working on, progress is limited if they are unable to maintain their attention. There are many underlying reasons for a child with a fleeting attention span and many can be related to visual issues, primitive reflexes, and possible sensory diagnosis. Kimberly M. Wiggins is an occupational therapist and a mother of a child with special needs and has developed techniques and strategies that can mitigate attention issues as well as ease frustration from working harder to complete simple tasks.
Professionals around the country are finding out that the two most effective strategies to address poor attention are multisensory techniques and technology. Children that receive movement breaks and learn in a multisensory approach are able to retain information better, and there are now many technology tools that can be used to increase motivation and attention spans while working on the basic fine motor and visual perception skills. Unfortunately technology and sensory equipment can be expensive and hard to come by. This workshop teaches you attention-grabbing strategies that can be implemented into practice immediately. Resources on where to find sensory equipment as well as low-tech options and instructions on how to make your own sensory items are also presented in this interactive workshop. After completing the course, you will have gained activities, exercises, and resources that you can use the very next day to benefit individual students.