Middle School Orientation for Your Child

School hallway

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If your child is going to middle school this year, you will be invited to attend orientation weeks or days before school begins. It is an opportunity for both you and your preteen to learn about his or her new school, as well as meet the school staff, the principal, and maybe even your child's teachers.

Getting to Know the Layout

Tours of the school are usually part of the orientation. Becoming familiar with a new building layout can help in the transition from elementary school. Places to get to know include drop-off and pick-up locations, gym, cafeterias, bathrooms, library, guidance counselors' offices, nurse's office, and administration offices.

Your child may be assigned a school locker at orientation. Before leaving, be sure he knows where his locker is, and have him try his combination. If the locker doesn't open, give it a little nudge. Sometimes that's enough to get it going. If not, bring it to the staff's attention so that the maintenance staff can correct the problem before the first day of school.

Setting Expectations

Orientation is also a time when teachers and principals communicate expectations for the year or explain how the school has performed over the past year or so. Your child may learn essential rules and regulations at orientation. You may learn how discipline is handled and how teachers expect you to foster your child's classroom success. Homework expectations may also be discussed.

Many schools distribute class schedules at orientation, so your child will likely learn who his teachers are and what his schedule will be. This can be an exciting time for a student, and kids will likely want to see if they have any classes with their friends.

Meeting Teachers

You may have the chance at orientation to meet your child's teachers. Teachers will often open up their classrooms at orientation so that you can see exactly where your child will spend the school day. You may also be able to review class textbooks or the class syllabus. Take the opportunity to ask about special projects that might be assigned throughout the year, as well as class field trips.

Be sure you have contact information for each teacher before you leave orientation.

Ask for the teacher's e-mail address, or ask how they would prefer you to contact them should have a question or encounter a problem during the school year. Also, be sure you have contact information for the principal and the school guidance counselor.

Fees and Items to Purchase

Be sure you bring money or checks to orientation, because you may have the opportunity to purchase your child's gym uniform, school T-shirts, or mandatory school supplies such as calculators or science aprons. It's also possible that you'll be able to pre-purchase lunches for your child at his school orientation.

Extracurricular Activities

School clubs, teams, and organizations may be present at orientation. If they are, take the time to learn more about the after-school opportunities available to your child.

Ask questions and encourage your child to join a club or two, or think about joining a club.

Participating in after-school clubs is a great way to make new friends and develop new skills.

What to Avoid

In general, orientation is not the best day to voice concerns over teacher assignments or other issues to the principal or staff. They are meeting dozens of new students and parents, and may not be able to give your concerns much attention. If you have a problem that you wish to resolve before school starts, try to raise your concern before or after school orientation.

1 Source
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  1. Im MH, Hughes JN, Cao Q, Kwok OM. Effects of Extracurricular Participation During Middle School on Academic Motivation and Achievement at Grade 9. Am Educ Res J. 2016;53(5):1343‐1375. doi:10.3102/0002831216667479

By Jennifer O'Donnell
Jennifer O'Donnell holds a BA in English and has training in specific areas regarding tweens, covering parenting for over 8 years.