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Middle school represents a new chapter in your child’s life and can present a whole host of problems for both of you. They will be surrounded by older kids, and in a physically larger school with more challenging academic expectations. They are transitioning from being the leaders in their old school to the new, and youngest, kid on the block.

So, how do you prepare your child for middle school?

Let’s take a look at some effective tips that can help them to transition to middle school as smoothly as possible.

Introduce locker pride

One of the most angst-inducing aspects of life for a middle school student is having problems with their locker lock. It’s a great idea to purchase their lock well in advance of the start of school and make sure that they know how to operate the key or combination. If possible, choose a combination that is easy to remember and not too confusing for them. Whether your child’s locker has a combination or a key lock, it’s important that they become familiar with their lock before classes start.

Another fun activity is to help them to decorate the interior of their locker. Pick out some photos or other graphics that will allow them to share a bit of their personality with their new school mates. Having their own locker may be the first time that they feel complete ownership of something, especially if they share a room with a sibling.

Their locker can become an exciting way for your middle schooler to express themselves. Explain to them that introducing themselves to the students whose lockers are near theirs is a great way to start making friends.

Involve them in back-to-school supply shopping

You will likely receive a list of required supplies well before classes start. Involve your child in the process of shopping for these supplies so that they feel like they are connected to this new beginning. Allow them to choose the binders that best represent their personality and pencils and folders in colors that they love. Go over the list of required supplies with your child to see if there are any additional items that they would like that aren’t on the list. See if they have any questions about any of the supplies and why they may need them.

Next, go to the store to purchase the supplies and allow your child to have some input into which items are chosen. If possible, let them choose a special “extra” item to celebrate this new beginning. School supplies can help your child mentally prepare for their first day as they get ready by putting their name in their notebooks and packing their backpacks.

Take a tour of the school before classes start

Many schools will host an open house prior to the start of school; if at all possible, make sure that your child attends such functions. If your school does not have such an occasion, request that you and your child be given a private tour so that they have the chance to get to know the layout of their new school before their classes begin.

The first stop either at the open house or the tour should be their locker. Let them familiarize themselves as to where it is, especially in relation to their homeroom, cafeteria, gym, and exit and entrances. Help them to orientate themselves to the hallways and classrooms and where everything is in relation to each other.

Meeting other children who will be in their homeroom, or who have lockers that are near to theirs will make them feel even more confident about their new school experience. They should also have the opportunity to meet a teacher or two before classes begin, and having these introductions taken care of before school starts will give your child more comfort and familiarity with their new school.

Middle school is a big leap forward from elementary school, and your child may need some extra support during this transition period. Follow these simple tips and your child will be able to start their new middle school adventure with confidence! Talk to them about their fears and help them to feel comfortable about this next step in their educational journey.