Transitions for tweens
It’s a delicate matter for tweens to transition from one grade to another, whether it is from 7th to 8th or 9th grade or from one division of an activity to a higher one. In some cases, it involves a move to another school. www.kidsource.com has an article about how to provide tweens with activities that relate to these transitions. Some students transitioning to high school felt that their middle school teachers could have given them a more challenging curriculum and more responsibility to learn on their own. Kidsource suggests students should not only visit the new school in the spring, but they could “shadow” a high school student, attend orientation, and discuss high school life with eighth grade teachers. The high school students could use the internet to set up ways that incoming students can interact with others, such as joining activities or clubs where they could make new friends. Prospective students could even get answers over the internet to any questions they might have about the school.
The NEA (National Education Association). www.nea.org, says that a successful middle school experience is “a positive transition from elementary school.” The questions that plague those making transitions are usually about the amount of homework, finding the bathroom, opening the locker, bullies, and so forth. If the schools offer a transition program with parents and students, that helps, but it is not enough. Peter Lorain, middle school principal from Oregon, conducted focus groups with sixth graders, who commented that what they learned was gathered from older siblings and neighbors. The best transition program will take the anxiety out of the summer before the middle school experience.
Psychology Today (www.psychologytoday.com) addresses the moodiness of preteens and the three factors that can influence these moods: “change, complexity, and control.” Things get more complicated when moving from elementary to secondary school. As students seek freedom, they are faced with less control and more unexpected choices. It is difficult to ride the “roller coaster” that overtakes the emotions. Parents must be aware of the psychological development phases that their children are experiencing. If parents encourage their adolescents to take care of themselves by eating and sleeping well, and seeing to their social needs, they can avoid the bad moods.
Three ways for the adolescent to conquer the bad mood are 1) communicate feelings to a friend or parent; 2) focus on what is going well instead of negative; 3)change behavior by acting happy. If this doesn’t work, and the transitions are too overwhelming, it is time to seek psychological assistance.
In Los Angeles, if you are seeking an adolescent psychologist to help with those difficult transitions, you can try www.therapists.psychologytoday.com. They have a long list of psychologists, family therapists, and others that work with adolescents. Sometimes the school psychologists can be helpful in this process, and if they can’t help, they can refer you to someone else.
Good luck with those transitions. Let your child know that this is a normal part of life, and that we all go through these transitions. Encourage them to communicate their feelings and to seek support from family and friends.