Sydney: I don’t want to go to middle school!
Mom: Last year you told me you couldn’t wait to get out of grade school. What made you change your mind?
Sydney: I’m worried about everything! There are new teachers, we’ll have to switch classes, I’ll have to make new friends. Nothing’s ever going to be the same.
Mom: That is a lot to handle. Let’s talk about how we can help you deal with it all.
Jennifer Tongen was surprised when Lucy, her usually confident fifth grader, began saying she was worried about starting middle school. “Lucy’s pretty adventurous and she had always liked going to school,” Tongen recalls.
She was worried about a lot of stuff, but one thing she always mentioned was that in her new school there would be no recess,” says Tongen. While Lucy complained about the upcoming lack of time to play outside, Tongen suspected her concern ran deeper. “I think in some ways her frustration with the lack of recess was really a frustration with being expected to stop acting like a kid when she still felt like one,” she notes.
The move from elementary school to middle school can be one of the toughest transitions any girl will make, says Harriet Mosatche, Ph.D, author of Too Old for This, Too Young for That: Your Survival Guide for the Middle-School Years (Free Spirit Publishing, 2000, with Karen Unger). Mosatche also heard from hundreds of girls who wrote her “Ask Dr. M” column at the Girl Scouts USA website. “Middle school can feel like a sudden leap into adolescence,” she says. “Often neither the girls nor their parents feel ready for that.”
Most middle schools house sixth to eighth grades, the years in which “so much is changing in a girl’s life,” Mosatche says, noting the unpredictable physical changes and emotional see-sawing of puberty. When the move to middle school means a girl won’t go to the same place as her friends from grade school, there are major changes in her social world as well.
Girls also face classes that are more demanding, and an intimidating switch to having several different classes and teachers. “When Lucy got to middle school they started giving her A-B-C grades” instead of the “satisfactory”-type grades typical in elementary schools, Tongen recalls. “She wasn’t really prepared for the grading change and the expectations that went along with it. In many ways, she felt like she was being rushed all the time. Even lunch was rushed. It was like they were saying, ‘Hurry up. You’re a teenager now.’”
Back to Article Listings
|Page 1 out of 5|