Transitions… Transitions…

It’s that time of year!  School is almost ending!

And while to many it is a joyful time, for some it is a bit scary.   I am an occupational therapist and part of an elementary school community.  And the 5th graders are getting ready for a huge transition.  Think about it. It is a huge change.  Many say things like “kids have it easy.” But think about it, as a child, their worries/cares are just as big to them as our adult worries/cares are to us.  It’s all relative.  Here are some of the challenges or novel experiences our soon to be middle schoolers are facing:

  • going to more than one classroom
  • short amount of time to get to classrooms
  • larger building to get around
  • more students around (larger student body)
  • lockers and locker locks!
  • carrying more stuff around
  • 6 day schedule?  What is that?
  • more independence needed overall!
  • What’s a gym uniform?

This is a list I compiled just from experience.  But think of what the student must be feeling from his/her 11/12 year old brain? The other day my writing prompt was about such a topic.  The starter sentence was:  “Some things I’d like to practice before 6th grade are….”

And the answers were amazing. More than I covered on my above list!    They included:

  • being nice/making friends
  • behaving like a 6th grader
  • going to classes on time
  • learning how to lock and unlock lockers
  • going to lunch on time
  • getting on the bus on time
  • finishing homework

    5th grade worries
    A Student Letter

What can we do as professionals and parents to support our kiddos who are about to embark onto the next step of their educational experience?  As an OT, I do the following with my 5th grade students, which can easily been carried out by parents/caregivers as well!

  1. Students are currently practicing locker lock/combinations.  Purchase one now and start practicing!  What a relief to have that figured out how to work one before 6th grade!
  2. Get a copy of a 6 day cycle schedule and start checking that out and discuss how it works.
  3. Have your child do a tour of the middle school. Many do provide that option.
  4. See if your middle school has a “orientation” day.  In our district we provide a special day in summer with a fun scavenger hunt including locker practice.
  5. Literally practice putting things into and out of your backpack into a locker (we have one in the OT room).  At home you can practice this with any closet/surface, just to practice sorting the books/clothing/lunch.
  6. Binders:  get used to them.  And have your child get used to them!  Organization is a key skill in middle school.  Learning how to organize materials by subject and by periods in the day is pertinent.
  7. Keep the writing skills going. Keep a journal over summer that includes writing a paragraph or two about something he/she did that day.
  8. Keep the peer relationships going. Have get-togethers or adventures even after school ends.
  9. As fall gets closer, go over the bus schedule, or even take a ride with your child on to show the bus route.
  10. Make extra copies of your child’s schedule to have in the event he/she loses or forgets his/hers.
  11. Keep encouraging your child to maintain his/her room, supplies, etc., so that the organization skills continue.

Remember, school transitions are tough for little minds.  Let’s do as much as we can as parents/teachers to help ease the transition!

Mary L. Adolf, M.S., OTR/L

 

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