Emilio has had a mentor with the mentor program since he was 9 years old, and now he is graduating from elementary school and going to middle school. He is excited to make new friends and start at a new school, but he is also a little embarrassed to have his mentor come meet him at his new school because there will be new people to meet and older students there he wants to impress. He really enjoys having his Mentor in his life, and wants to continue seeing his Mentor, but is nervous and worried what other kids and his new friends might think of him hanging out with an adult at school. He also doesn't know if it's possible to meet his Mentor off campus somewhere every week, and if he will have time to meet his Mentor because of more homework, new friends, and new activities. Emilio really wants to continue meeting with his Mentor because he enjoys all the help and encouragement, but doesn't know what to expect from the change from elementary school to middle school.
Questions for Discussion:
1. What would you do if you were Emilio? How might Emilio benefit from continuing to meet with his mentor through middle school?
2. How do you think Emilio’s mentor would feel if he knew how Emilio felt about this transition? Do you think he would understand?
3. How do you think Emilio can talk to his Mentor about this? What are some of the ways he can still meet with his Mentor outside of school?
4. Are you ever embarrassed or have you been teased when your Mentor comes to meet you at school? If so, how did you deal with it?
5. Do you feel like Emilio will be too old for a Mentor when he gets to middle school? Are you worried about being teased by your peers if you meet with your Mentor as you get older?
**Self-esteem and self-perception of academic competence also may decline when students transition to middle school, especially for girls. One study found that girls who remained in a K-8 setting rather than transitioning to a middle school had higher self-esteem ratings than girls who had made a school transition (Crockett, Peterson, Graber, Schulenberg, & Ebata, 1989).
**A number of studies point to a drop in achievement as students move to new schools and new structures, and the drop may be more significant for girls than for boys.
**When researchers asked kids what aspect of moving to middle school most concerned them, the top answers related to how things at the new school worked (Akos, 2002).
Student motivation and attitudes toward school tend to decline during the transition to middle school, as students begin dealing with the rapid physical, cognitive, and social transformations associated with early adolescence (Urdan & Klein, 1998).
**Young adolescents have a strong need to belong to a group. Peer approval becomes more important and they are likely to turn to friends first when experiencing a problem. As they mature socially, they often have opposing loyalties to peer group and family.
**Though young adolescents may be rebellious toward parents and adults, they still depend on them and desire their approval. They tend to test limits and challenge adult authority figures. (Adapted from Caskey & Anfara, 2007)
**Young adolescents begin to seek independence and to develop a strong sense of individuality and uniqueness. At the same time, they are highly sensitive to criticism, want to fit in with their peers, and are likely to have low self-esteem. They may be moody, restless, self-conscious, and unpredictable as they experience intense emotions and stress.
How Mentors Can Help:
**As your Mentee begins to transition out of 6th (or 5th in Carp) grade, make a plan or offer to help them set up their schedule for middle school/junior high. Maybe take them on a tour of their new school during the summer so they can get familiar with its layout and what to expect. Then you can segue into talking about how and where you would like to keep meeting with them as they transition.
** Go over the change from one teacher and one classroom to multiple teachers and multiple classrooms, and help them prepare for how this will create more distraction and a greater need for organization (binders etc).
** Give your Mentee options and places to meet off campus, outside of school, but keep it consistent. Your Mentee will be more social, a bit more resistant to parents, teachers, Mentors, and adults in their life at this transition so just try not to take it personally. Be accepting of them and their needs, treating them like a child will push them away, while showing them respect will bring them closer.
** Make note of your Mentee's current social life, and how excited or nervous they are about changing schools. If your Mentee is already very social and influenced by their social life they will be more sensitive about meeting on campus. If they are quiet and shy they may be very scared about this big change and will need your support. Tell your mentee about your experience with this transition and let them know you understand what they are going through and are there for them no matter what.
** Encourage extracurricular activities in middle school, as there are tons of sports teams and groups on campus, and many ways to explore their interests and hobbies through school. Mention that this will allow for them to make new friends at a new school, and you can come to the games to support them without embarrassment.
** Peer pressure will be even more present in your Mentee's life, as drugs, alcohol, weekend parties and socializing can make an appearance. Try to keep an open dialogue about these topics so they feel they can always talk to you about whatever is going on in their life.
**And just remember, they are becoming teenagers with all the difficulties that implies, so expect some odd changes and behaviors and just try to be as accepting and supportive of them as you can, because they will need you now more than ever.
NY Times article on Middle School
Making the Transition to Middle School: How Mentoring Can Help
Transitions to and from Middle School Research Article