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Teaching Strategies to Prepare for Middle School

Janelle Cox

Whether your students are transitioning into middle school, high school, or college, they all have one thing in common: They need to be prepared for it. If you are not sure how to best use teaching strategies to help your 5th graders transition into middle school, and you are concerned that they will not be able to survive, the first thing that you can do is help them is to prepare them. All students (regardless of where they are transitioning) need explicit instructions and teaching strategies on how to adjust to the next level of their education. The first major transition for students is to middle school. This is where everything changes for them. The expectations are tough, and students need to learn to be more independent. Middle school teachers are well aware that it is quite an adjustment for the students, and they do give students a learning curve, but not for long. What the middle school teachers want you (the primary teachers) to know is that there are a few things that you can do now that can really help them out. Here are a few teaching strategies to help your students prepare for middle school.

Teaching Strategies: Study Skills

Studying is an important part of middle school, and students are expected to be prepared for weekly tests. There are many students who do not have any study skills. The best way to prepare these students for middle school is to teach them a few different ways to study so that they can figure out which way works best for them. Whether it’s converting their notes to flashcards, playing a review game on an app, or finding a friend to quiz them, students need to find a way to study.

Another study technique that you can teach students is to model what studying looks like. Sometimes children think that just rereading the bold words or the chapter will suffice. But that doesn’t work. You can even create a study checklist or student log where students must fill out the paper to prove they have studied before a test. Students may not always be trustworthy when filling out the log, but it will show them what is expected of them, which can be very helpful.

Calendar and Planning Skills

When students enter middle school, they are expected to write down absolutely everything into their planners. This is something that is done independently, it is not something that will be instructed by the teacher. Many primary teachers are preparing their young students for this independent practice from as young as 1st grade. First graders up to 5th graders are being told what to write in their planners each night before they go home. This is very helpful in preparing them for what is to come in middle school.

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One of the biggest challenges middle school teachers face is to help students understand that they have to write down everything, not just when something is due. If 5th grade teachers can start in the middle of the year to challenge students to independently fill out their planners, then they would get a head start for middle school. It’s also helpful to teach students how to break down the bigger tasks into smaller ones. For example, if students have a project due in one month, show them how they can prepare each day or each week for the project.

Self-Advocating Skills

Students who may have been extroverts in elementary school may feel less inclined to talk in middle school and become more introverted. This may be due to the change in the school structure. Middle school is very fast-paced, and students must change classes for each subject. Having a new teacher for each subject can be very intimidating. Teach your students a few self-advocating skills. By developing a self-understanding, students will be more self-aware of what they want and what they need. This will help them gain more confidence, and they will in turn recognize their abilities.  You can start by having students write down their interests, strengths, goals, and dreams. Then give them the opportunity to voice their opinion or address any concerns they may have. By doing so, students will learn self- awareness and communication skills, two things they will need in middle school.

There are a lot of challenges, both developmentally and academically, that go along with the transition into middle school. But with your help, these students will be able to survive all of it. All you have to do as the teacher is take the time to teach them the skills needed. Then, your students will persevere.

Do you have any teaching strategies to prepare elementary students for middle school? What skills do you think are necessary for a productive transition? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.