Making the transition into middle school

  • Buses await students in Baltimore County.
Buses await students in Baltimore County.
August 14, 2012|By Liz Atwood | The Baltimore Sun

It's almost time. My baby is going to middle school. A few days ago, he cleaned off the desk in his room and packed away his sports trophies, declaring they were too babyish. He has a new backpack and selected new back-to-school clothes, opting for stylish plaid shirts rather than funky T-shirts. And he has started to sport hair gel.

While I've been nagging with him to keep up with his summer reading, he has other things on his mind. Topping the list of his worries about middle school, it seems, are bullies.

This is a little surprising to me because he's one of the biggest boys in his class. But of course eighth-graders are bigger. I've tried to tell him to be smart about interacting with the older kids. For example, he shouldn't do what his older brother did and throw a snowball at older, bigger boys on the way home from school. My son got the worst end of that deal and found himself face down in the snow. He came home saying he had been bullied. Well, duh.

I don't think it helps that nearly all the popular books about middle school portray it as a place fraught with danger (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Middle School: Get Me Out of Here!). All of this has to be intimidating for an 11-year-old.

I'm trying to reassure my son that he'll know many of the kids in the school. There will be his classmates from elementary school as well as kids he knows from scouting, church and sports. I am trying to point out the benefits of middle school. There will be new clubs to try and more freedom. And I tell him that he will survive middle school just as his brother did -- provided he doesn’t throw snowballs at eighth graders.

Do you have any advice for kids about to enter middle school?

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