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School transition: why I start kids WAY early

Date: March 27th, 2014
By: Polly Bath

Watch this video [2:09] for some of my wisdom and experience on helping kids make successful transitions.

Let’s talk about transition. When is it the right time to start teaching kids what’s going to happen next?

Middle school to high school or elementary school to middle school. What’s going to be the expectation when you get up to the next level?

We often wait until the last minute. We give them two weeks before they transition. We have them go visit the next school. We give them a tour and tell them what kind of classes they might be taking and different things that could be offered.

But the behavioral expectations are often not addressed early enough.

I think in September, we should take our eighth graders and start telling them what the expectations are for high school.

“Am I going to have a locker right outside my classroom like I do in the middle school?” Probably not.

“Am I going to be expected to get from one place to another in four minutes maybe?” Yeah, probably.

“By the way, I failed everything in middle school, so I still got to high school. So what’s the difference?”

I see a lot of kids at the high school level get whacked by this one: “Credits. I have no idea what that means. It means I really do have to do my work, or I stay in the same grade?” That’s an eye‑opener for some, and I hate to see kids learn that one the hard way.

Elementary school to middle school.

“When I go to middle school, am I going to be expected to carry my own lunchbox to go to the cafeteria?” Well, yeah.

“But when I’m in elementary school, somebody carries that for me and then brings it back to the classroom so I can go out to recess.”

That won’t be the case in middle school, so we’ve got to start teaching kids what they are going to need to know and do. Early.

Help them to be more prepared. I’m not saying we dwell on it for the whole year prior because we need to get our work done in our elementary and middle school level before they transition. But we should constantly be talking about that because it’s something they’re going to have to get used to.

If we give them the information now, they have a better chance of meeting expectations at the next level.
Click on my video above for more.