Helpful Tips for Parents of 5th and 8th Graders

Tips and Tricks for Parents with Kids Transitioning from 5th and 8th Grades

From PiE Parents for Parents!

Moving from Elementary to Middle School:

  1. Practice the route to/from school a few times over the summer. Allow your child to do it solo at least once before the first day.
  2. Volunteer for the 6th grade orientation days at the middle school to get acquainted with your child’s new teachers, classmates and surroundings.
  3. Help your child make a lunch plan by going to the new school with your child and some of your child’s friends and having them choose a spot at which to meet.
  4. Walk around campus with your child, preferably with a map of campus, to familiarize your child with the layout and get a sense of the time it takes to walk from one point to another. It is useful to note pick up and drop off zones and/or where bike racks are located. Maps are available on each school’s website.
  5. Go to the early days before school starts when ID photos are taken, textbooks picked up, gym clothes purchased, and paperwork (including PiE donations) are accepted. This will help reduce the chaos of the first day. Dates vary according to schools and you need to pay attention to mailings and online calendars to keep track of them.
  6. Help your student think through their organization strategy. How will they keep track of assignments? Where will they keep assignments returned to them that may be needed later?
  7. If your child has permission to go somewhere other than home immediately after school, walk or bike there with your child. Some students go to the public library, park, supermarket, pizza place, after-school classes, etc. Note safe places to cross the street and remind them not to jaywalk. If you have rules about spending or allowances, this might be a good time to review budgeting.
  8. Biking becomes a primary mode of transportation for many Palo Alto middle-schoolers, but it takes knowledge and practice to do it safely. Remind your child of bike safety and traffic rules, and consider taking a local bike safety class over the summer, designed just for middle-schoolers and their parents: http://wheelkids.com/palo-alto/middle-school/
  9. Look at school’s website together, and look up photos of the principal, other administrators, counselors, teachers, and other staff. Recognizing people can help kids know who to go to with questions or for other kinds of help.
  10. The school websites are the best places to find information. Check it often. Subscribe to the e-news and the class parent networks.
  11. Encourage your child to join clubs, which often meet at lunch, and other activities which they find interesting, whether during or after school.
  12. Sixth grade is much more like elementary school than it is like middle school. The school-within-a-school model makes the transition very smooth. Don’t panic about the workload! Sixth grade teachers are more forgiving than you may expect.
  13. Keep yourself connected! Schedule a coffee or lunch with another parent on the first or second day of school. Go to the principal’s coffee or PTA meeting or whatever activity they have scheduled on campus to attract parents. Meet volunteer parents and set up volunteering opportunities for yourself.

Moving from Middle to High School:

  1. Have your child practice the route to/from school a few times over the summer.
  2. Encourage your child to make a lunch plan by going to the new school with some friends and having them choose a spot at which to meet. This takes away a lot of the initial anxiety.
  3. Have your child walk around campus, preferably with a map, to familiarize themselves with the layout and get a sense of the time it takes to walk from one place to another. It is useful to note pick up and drop off zones and/or where bike racks are located. Maps are available on each school’s website.
  4. Go to the early days before school starts when ID photos are taken, textbooks picked up, gym clothes purchased, and paperwork (including PiE donations!) are accepted. This will help reduce the chaos of the first day. Dates vary according to schools and you need to pay attention to mailings and online calendars to keep track of them.
  5. Encourage your child to look at the school’s website and also look up photos of the principal, other administrators, counselors, teachers, and other staff. Recognizing people can help kids know who to go to with questions or for other kinds of help.
  6. The school websites are the best places to find information for parents, too. Check it often. Subscribe to the e-news and the class parent networks.
  7. Encourage your child to join clubs, which often meet at lunch, and other activities which they might be interested in, whether during or after school.
  8. Fall sports tryouts are early August, so be sure to be in town if your student plans to try out for football, girls volleyball, boys and girls water polo, boys and girls cross country, girls tennis or girls golf. Check the school website for more details. Could be as early as the first few days of August!
  9. Passing a swim test is a requirement to graduate from a public high school in the state of California. Typically they do this at the beginning of freshman year. If your student isn’t already a swimmer, now’s the time to get them some lessons.
  10. Come up with a plan for if they find themselves in a situation they don’t know how to get themselves out of. One parent has a family code: If the child sends a text that says, “What time is Grandma arriving?” Then, the parent calls sounding like a crazy person saying the child needs to come home right away. No questions asked.
  11. Keep yourself connected! Schedule a coffee or lunch with another parent on the first or second day of school. Go to the principal’s coffee or parent network meeting or whatever activity they have scheduled on campus to attract parents. Meet volunteer parents and set up volunteering opportunities for yourself.