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Important advice for families on making middle school a success

The Middle School Transition: From Child to Teenager

July 16, 2019 - Student Success

“Middle school starts the most challenging seven to eight years of our lives. From the start of middle school to the end of high school we have some of our most challenging learning experiences. But, it can also create some of the best memories.”

Bobby Stingone knows middle school.

He’s been an administrator in Hillsborough County public middle schools since 2001. First as a guidance counselor and assistant principal at Dowdell Middle and now as the new principal at Eisenhower Middle School.

He knows the transition from elementary to middle school can be intimidating. It’s a whole new world for these pre-teens. However, middle school teachers and staff understand this and are there to help students and families get used to these new experiences. “You try to keep sixth graders in their own space most of the time,” Stingone says. “And the teachers have some of that understanding of elementary school—they’re going to help with the transition. We want sixth grade to be as comfortable as possible.”

Most middle schools in Hillsborough County offer some sort of camp or initiation for incoming sixth graders, to familiarize them with the school. Eisenhower Middle has its boot camp in late July. For three hours, new students will get a tour of the school, find out where their classrooms are, meet some teachers and have the opportunity to ask questions.

Middle school isn’t just a big change for students. It’s also a new experience for their families. Mr. Stingone says there are four key points new sixth grade parents should make sure they know:

  • Find out how best to communicate with your student’s teachers. Different teachers use different methods of communication. Become comfortable with them.
  • Learn about edsby, and how to get an account. This is where you will find your student’s grades and test scores.
  • With seven teachers, the amount of homework is sure to increase. Learn how to best help your student with these new homework demands. Figure out a homework schedule that works for your family.
  • Be an involved parent. Mr. Stingone says there is a difference between parent involvement and parent participation. He says he’d love parents to participate but he understands that can be difficult with busy work schedules. But being involved is easy. It’s as simple as asking your student how their day was EVERY SINGLE DAY—and not accepting one word answers. He says the more involved a parent is, often the more successful a student is.

Mr. Stingone’s final piece of advice to new sixth grade parents—Communication between parent and child is key!

“Talk to your children about what middle school can be like. They’re going to meet new people, it can be scary but it is SO exciting! The academic work will increase and the social expectations will change. But that’s what makes it fun! All of that combined… Fun AND Challenging. That’s middle school.”