Navigating Middle School

As children transition from elementary school to middle school, they may find themselves struggling with some of the differences that middle school brings. Below are some challenges that students, educators, and parents may come across, and some things each of them can do to enhance learning. From an interview with Marla Thompson.



Middle school students have many things change all at once. In addition to physical and emotional changes, the structure of school changes for most students as they enter middle school. Instead of one teacher, they now have several class periods daily. This can create confusion as students sometimes struggle to understand what each teacher expects.

Coupled with this new school environment is the middle school child himself: often children get embarrassed very easily and don’t always want to ask for help. What their peers think of them is very important at this age, and students will often remain quiet rather than ask for help.

What students can do:

Get a study buddy. Find a friend in class who they can call or text to get help on assignments.

Ask for help. If a child doesn’t understand, it is imperative that they ask for help sooner than later. Reach out to teachers in person or by email to let teachers know when the material is difficult. Ask parents for help at home.



Teachers in middle school often see over 100 students a day—sometimes 200 or more! Because they don’t have as much one on one time with students as elementary school teachers, they may not know that a child is struggling.

One of teachers main jobs, beyond just teaching the material, is teaching responsibility. That means that teachers need to stay firm on class policies and make sure there are set consequences when a child fails to complete an assignment for example.

What teachers can do: