Back-to-school can be a fun, exciting time for children and youth ready to see friends again and get back in the daily groove of the school year. Or, it can be a time of nerves and trepidation for some students as they transition to middle or high school.
For those experiencing some nerves, there are things educators are doing to ease the transition and there are things parents can do to ready students for the new year at a new school. For most students in the area the transition process has already begun.
“We start the transition for kids going from elementary to middle school in May,” said Ed Resnick, principal of Hans Christensen Middle School in Menifee.
Fifth grade students were bused to the three Menifee middle schools for an orientation, and to meet with the principal, assistant principal, counselor and current 7th and 8th grade ASB students to tour the campus and learn what a regular day at middle school will be like.
“We send them off in small groups for tours,” Resnick said. “We visit a classroom, walk through the 6th grade hall, visit the front of the school and attendance office … this year we added our locker room. That’s one of the big fears.”
Later that evening, the students and their parents were invited to return for another meeting.
“I give basically the same presentation as given to the kids in May with more of a parent slant,” Resnick said. “The idea behind both orientations is that the kids are now the experts. They can also tell their parents what to expect.”
Then, a week before classes start for the new year, students visit to get books, PE clothes and their planners so when the school year begins, they’re ready for class.
The transition to high school is managed in much the same way with many schools utilizing programs such as the Link Crew.
Link Crew is a high school transition program that helps freshmen students comfortably transition throughout the first year of high school. Mentors are trained from junior and senior classes to be Link Crew leaders and these students help guide the incoming freshmen students.
The program includes a high school orientation, academic follow ups through classroom visits, social follow ups at social events and one-on-one talks.
“The high school Link Crew program is very similar to what we do with our ASB students,” Resnick said. “They meet ahead of time, do tours and help them find their classrooms.”
In addition to the transition support provided by educators and other students, parents can help prepare youth for the new year by planning ahead and communicating.
“Parents need to communicate with their kids and teachers,” Resnick said. “We try to give a number of options for communication … email, phone, daily planners.”
It’s also recommended that parents and their students come up with a plan for homework ahead of time so students will be prepared.
“Have a place where backpacks will go, Resnick said. “Decide if homework should be done right away, or a snack, then homework.”
Lastly, Resnick recommends both students and parents get involved.
“Join the PTA, join a booster club … go to back-to-school night and open house,” he said. “And for the kids, get involved with activities at lunch, before and after school, join the band. You get to know people and you get involved.”
Preparing ahead of time for the new school year will mean less stress and a better experience students and teachers alike.
“We really understand it is a transition,” Resnick said. “The more relaxed we can get the kids the sooner we can get down to business.”
Jennifer Dean is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.