Children confront many transitions throughout their lifetime that can be stressful. They face their first transition from home to school, elementary to middle school, middle to high school, and high school to college or work (Schumacher, 1998). However, the transition from elementary to middle school seems to be harder for adolescents due to the personal changes of puberty. Research suggests that roles, expectations, and responsibilities are the primary concerns of students (Akos, 2002). In order to make this transition easier, programs such as “blocking, shadowing, or buddies” need to be implemented the year preceding middle school and continue through the first year of transition.
The transition from elementary to middle school is a major event in the lives of students and parents. Most students will experience some emotional turmoil and social adjustment due to unfamiliar students, school staff, multiple sets of behavioral and classroom rules and expectations (Akos, 2002). The results of the middle school years affect young people through adolescence and adulthood (Greene, & Ollendick, 1993). Several studies have reported that this transition is the reason for declines in academic achievement, self-esteem, and interest in school (Kingery, Erdley, 2007). Therefore, these students need to receive assistance prior to, during, and after the move (Schumacher, 1998).
Orientation for transition programs should begin for elementary students who will be attending middle school the following year (Ferguson, & Bulach, 1994). Elementary schools need to implement problem-solving skills training for fifth grade students that reduce the level of difficulty with common occurring stressors (Greene, & Ollendick, 1993). Research suggests that some common stressors are getting to class on time, finding lockers, getting on the right bus to go home, finding lunchrooms and bathrooms, and remembering their schedules. Another major concern is personal safety. Students worry about aggressive and violent behaviors of other students (Schumacher, 1998). It is not easy to focus on learning when fear controls your emotions (Ferguson, & Bulach, 1994). Transition programs need to teach children conflict skills they can use when they are being teased or victimized (Kingery, & Erdley, 2007).
Preventive programming is needed to assist students that will be making the change to a new school (Akos, 2002). The best programs are the ones custom-made to suit each district (Dillon, 2008). Three transition programs that are being used by some districts are shadowing, blocking, and buddies.
The “shadowing” program begins for students the year prior to middle school. Students from the middle school visit the elementary classes for fifteen or twenty minutes to answer questions. They also provide sample schedules, extracurricular handouts and demonstrate how to use an agenda. The next step takes the elementary classes to visit the middle school to shadow students for a day of...