It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was asking if my son was ready for kindergarten. And yet, somehow, here we are, wrapping up fifth grade. And like so many other parents, I’m in my feelings a bit about this transition to middle school.
I wanted to share our areas of excitement and concern since I have no doubt other parents are in the same boat. Commiserating among ourselves helps the burden of worries feel lighter.
Like many of his peers, my son’s time in elementary school has not been easy. In kindergarten, I was worried about having him start school without any preschool to prepare him. Third grade sucked. Fourth grade was amazing but cut short due to the pandemic. And fifth grade has been largely okay, except for taking place in the middle of a weird pandemic recovery year where nothing and everything is normal.
So here we are, wrapping up another school year, and getting ready for another first. Middle school. Due to continued pandemic restrictions, neither students or parents will be doing tours at the new school. The students did get a video tour and a presentation on electives (which are called encores at his school).
Do we feel prepared? No, we do not. Are we excited? Yes, we are, surprisingly so.
When asked, my son’s biggest concern is about the friendships he’s established in elementary school carrying over to middle school. It’s a bigger school and they will no longer be their tight-knit immersion enclave. I’ve told him that he will likely still have some of his friends in various classes. There will also be opportunities to make new friends and branch out. His immersion friends are not going anywhere – the parents are Facebook friends, if not friends in real life – and we will stay in touch. Sometimes social media is a good thing.
We are both excited about the elective/encore opportunities. The freedom to have some choice in what you are focusing on is a welcome change. My son would take all physical education classes as encores if he could. The outdoor education, including archery, is what he is most looking forward to. Being a typical preteen, he did roll his eyes and huff a bit about adding STEM and iCivics as options, but as he has really grown to love social studies, there is reason to believe he will enjoy these encores more than he expects.
He doesn’t say so, but I think even the academic part is not as daunting as it might be. His teachers this year have prepared him as well as they can. The homework, no doubt, will be a big adjustment. Having the Chromebook this year has helped him with typing skills and a measure of digital task management.
He is a little concerned about finding his way to classes, since he will need to do this on his own, and they will no longer move from class to class in a group. It is easy to get lost in a crowd, but this is not the first sixth-grade class the school has welcomed, and I’m sure there are measures in place to help the new students figure out where to go.
Here’s to us, parents of soon-to-be middle schoolers! May we share in our children’s triumphs and ease their concerns, so that they can start this new chapter with as much excitement as possible. Ready or not, middle school, here we come!