Blog: Bright Ideas

Ease the Transition to Middle School With An Innovative Summer Camp Program

The transition to middle school is a big deal for kids. It represents a major developmental milestone that occurs at a particularly vulnerable time. As a result, though there is usually excitement and anticipation associated with this major step, it can be a little nerve-wracking. It’s natural to want to make this transition as painless as possible, and parents often seek to ease their tween’s transition to middle school by anticipating and planning ahead. One amazing opportunity to build confidence and other crucial skills is with an innovative summer day camp, where kids can delve into subjects that fascinate them and grow both their independence as well as their ability to collaborate and work with others. Equipped with these assets, they can confidently take on middle school come fall. 

Some Concerns Are Common

When making the move from the familiar and controlled routine of elementary school to the relative independence and autonomy of middle school, a few concerns and anxieties are pretty universal. 

  • The physical layout of the new, likely larger, campus often causes apprehension. Will I find my way around? What if I get lost? Will I be late for class? A prearranged visit to check out the new school with your tween and a few of their friends can go a long way to allaying these fears, especially after schedules have been received. Get a campus map and walk the route from class to class and locker to classes to help alleviate the uncertainties of distance and timing.
  • The more complex daily schedule is also a concern. Often coming from self-contained elementary classrooms, middle school may represent the first experience with separate classrooms and teachers for various subjects. To eliminate this concern, help your preteen establish an organization strategy—maybe a personal planner with highlighters and sticky flags or a poster they can hang in their locker.
  • Some nervousness about feeling alone among unfamiliar people is common. Precisely when kids are becoming more peer-focused and dependent, they may be separated from their old friends. Finding themselves in a classroom full of unfamiliar faces can be intimidating. Be sure to arrange opportunities for kids to stay connected with old friends, especially in the early weeks as they are building new relationships. Encourage them to get involved in clubs, activities and after-school sports, thus connecting them with other kids with similar interests. 
  • Kids may worry about the academic rigor and increased workload of middle school. Remind them of their past ability to adapt to increasing challenge as they have grown and matured. Help them see themselves as highly competent in order to calm anxieties. 

Boosting Confidence

A recent survey conducted by Ypulse, a youth research and marketing firm, noted that kids’ confidence wavers around age 12, with girls being the most susceptible. What if there was a way to arm kids with the tools they need to weather their apprehensions effectively and help them deal confidently with the changes they encounter? And what if this confidence-building experience came disguised as a fun and innovative summer camp? 

The Power Is In The Approach

Beyond addressing logistical concerns, parents may also wish to give kids a general boost; an opportunity to build academic and ancillary skills in the low-stress environment of summer camp. An innovative summer camp program, like Galileo’s, embraces the individual and makes every kid feel like they belong. Embedded in each of the 11 Galileo Summer Quest majors is the goal of nurturing and inspiring the next generation of fearless innovators. Through the Galileo Innovation Approach®, instructors challenge every kid to contribute their ideas courageously and to learn and grow from their mistakes. In this supportive environment, kids learn to take risks, trust their ideas and have the confidence to share them. Researchers at Stanford are studying the impact of the Galileo Innovation Approach on Galileo campers, and results suggest kids not only persevere and respond positively to failure, but are capable of transferring these skills to challenges outside the camp setting.

Galileo Summer Quest campers creating a new dish.

Whether gaining physical science know-how by building go-karts, launching catapults or practicing kitchen chemistry, kids learn practical skills through positive collaborative interactions. Technology-focused majors include virtual reality, robotics, mobile game design and 3-D modeling and printing; each intriguing topic immerses campers in a captivating project that requires real-world skills. By participating in highly engaging, kid-friendly activities, campers gain exposure to science and engineering concepts and the latest technology. They build useful 21st-century skills as they take ownership of their work, celebrating successes and learning from missteps.

Preparing For The Challenges Ahead

Though parents cannot completely eliminate kids’ fears about the transition to middle school, listening to and validating their concerns is important. Helping them anticipate and plan for the changes they will experience can definitely reduce anxieties about the unknown. To shore up kids’ confidence and self-efficacy at this vulnerable time, consider providing a summer camp experience that is not just fun and engaging, but empowers them with communication, collaboration and self-management skills. Learning to be comfortable taking risks will go a long way to building kids’ inner confidence, preparing them for all the challenges ahead.

Check out the Galileo Summer Quest majors in your area:  San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California, and Chicagoland. Sign up for our mailing list to keep up-to-date with camp happenings and innovation resources. Or, register today for one of our camps.