School of Education News

Washington Post speaks with UW-Madison’s Borman about helping kids transition to middle school

September 02, 2019

The Washington Post featured comments from UW-Madison’s Geoffrey Borman in a new article headlined, “Five ways parents can help their kids transition smoothly to middle school.”

Borman is a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

The Washington Post article explores the transition from elementary to middle school, a shift that “can seem seismic” to many. 

The article promotes five ways for parents to support their children in transition, starting with creating an action plan. The Washington Post recommends discussing the student’s concerns and addressing them with small exposures. 

Second, the Washington Post suggests normalizing the feeling of being out of place. Borman notes that new obstacles in middle school may cause students to question whether they fit in socially or can succeed academically. 

Borman, alongside Chris Rozek, a research associate at Stanford University, conducted research to see whether it was possible to bolster students’ sense of belonging by sharing that all students experience difficulty at the start of middle school, but eventually feel better. To test this, Borman and Rozek had students read and reflect upon comments made by seventh graders, describing their experiences transitioning to middle school. The results of their study showed that students who received the "intervention" trusted their teachers more and were more invested in doing well. 

The article also recommends parents preview potential challenges by preemptively discussing troublesome behaviors that may arise, like cheating, bullying, or peer pressure. 

Fourth, the Washington Post suggests that parents give their children an opportunity to share their daily experiences. The article explains, “sixth-graders are flooded with highs and lows and need time to process them.”

Finally, it is recommended that parents get involved, but mindfully. For successful parents, this means being right alongside their child, but avoiding fighting their battles.  

Read the full article via this Washington Post web page

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