The transition to middle school can be challenging. Students move from a single classroom with one teacher to a much more complex environment. They face class changes, lockers, many teachers, and tons of new responsibilities.
A major part of the middle school experience is building independence. Kids are expected to manage assignments and deadlines on their own. Without preparation, this can get off to a rocky start. Also, even the kids who seem the most prepared for success can use some reminders from time to time.
Easing the transition to middle school
At the end of elementary school or the beginning of middle school, I encourage teachers to teach study skills directly. Sometimes school counselors will lead these lessons, but classroom teachers can as well. Many executive functioning skills can be improved through explicit instruction, such as organization and time management.
Where do I begin?
The first step of helping kids transition to middle school is to introduce study skills. One way to start is to have students complete this FREE study skills self assessment. This is a great introduction to the topic of learning styles, study habits, and more. It can start a conversation and get kids to reflect on how prepared they are for middle school. Kids will have a new awareness of the types of skills they need to succeed.
When completing the assessment, students will read a series of statements and indicate whether they agree, disagree, of fall somewhere in between. Statements include things like, “I have an agenda/planner and use it daily.” At the end of the activity, students will reflect on their greatest strengths and weaknesses when it comes to study skills.
How else can I help?
Teaching study skills is a great way to set students up for success. Kids aren’t born knowing how to manage their time, organize their materials, or develop good study habits. They can learn these skills if we teach them. That’s why I created this study skills flipbook.
This flipbook has short snippets of advice for the following topics: learning styles, improving focus, good habits, time management, organization, and study tips and hacks. After assembling and reading the flipbook, students will complete a scavenger hunt to find information from the booklet.
I’ve used this flipbook with my own students, and they really enjoyed the activity. Teachers have told me that they have also found it helpful as a sub lesson plan!
More middle school transition ideas
Growth mindset is another topic I like to introduce during the transition to middle school. I created a short assignment that brings in reading comprehension skills as well: get my free reading activity about a basketball player’s growth mindset here. In my experience, kids love a connection to sports. This activity is easy to implement and can help you begin the conversation about having a growth mindset and what that means in middle school.
Finally, if you are looking for more great resources to get your kids off to a strong start in middle school, check out this blog post with 5 free activities you can use in your ELA classroom.
How do you help ease your students into the middle school transition? Let me know in the comments!