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Gorham Middle School
Guidance Department

Adjusting to Middle School

Most children are a little concerned about starting middle school and, in many cases, so are their parents! It is normal to have concerns about things like navigating a new building, adjusting to a different schedule, meeting unfamiliar teachers and students, the rigors of academics and making new friends. As a parent, there are a number of ways in which you can help both you and your child feel more comfortable with the transition.

1 - Talk with your child
  • Help ease concerns by asking questions about what they're most excited or most worried about.
  • Listen carefully to your childĂ­s concerns and give them youĂ­re full attention whenever possible, paying attention to unstated feelings.
  • Focus on the positive, by reminding your child that middle school means they're growing up, which means more independence and more opportunities!
2 - Get oriented!
  • Ensure your child participates in orientation programs, including presentations at the elementary school by middle school staff and students, trips to the middle school for elementary students.  As a parent, be sure to attend Parent Night for parents of incoming sixth graders.
  • Visit GMS with your child so you can become familiar with the layout, get to know the staff and learn what supplies your child needs.
3 - Help your child be his or her best.
  • Help your child get organized by using academic planners, color-coded notebooks, binders with dividers, etc.
  • Encourage your child to start early on big projects, break tasks into smaller chunks and ask for help when needed.
  • Establish a study routine, including a quiet place to study and a time each day for homework.
  • Make sure your child has the basic supplies he or she needs - paper, pencils, rulers, calculator, etc.
4 - Nurture a love of learning.
  • Praise your childĂ­s successes and efforts
  • Make your home a learning resource - keeping books, music, magazines, etc. around.
  • Help your child get accustomed to using your local library.
5 - Friends and popularity are major issues.
  • Teach your child good judgment, including values such as fairness, self respect and respect for others, and a sense of right and wrong.
  • Talk with your child about dangerous behaviors, including violence, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
  • Get to know your child's friends and their parents, too!
6 - Peer Pressure
  • Help your child have a positive self-concept
  • Practice role-playing, acting out negative peer pressure situations, using humor, reasoning and consequences.
  • Be reassuring about physical and emotional changes.
7 - Safety issues.
  • Find out about the school's safety policy.
  • Don't accept bullying as normal. Let the school know about any bullying, including teasing. Teach your child the value of walking away from conflict, how to appear self-confident and assertive, and the importance of strong, healthy friendships.

If you have any questions, or would like more information, please contact Dawn Weber, School Counselor or visit the American School Counselor Association website at

Information from: Channing L. Bete Co. (2000). Helping Your Child Move on to Middle School. [Brochure]. USA.

Last Modified: Jun 03, 2010
The Gorham schools are committed to the belief that all of our students will find success in school