Making the Transition into Middle School

Making the transition from elementary to middle school is a huge milestone for all children and their parents. For our children on the autism spectrum and others who struggle with issues of “perception” this dramatic change of life is even more traumatic than for their NT (neuro-typical) peers. This transition can be viewed as a time in life that often resembled the twists and turns of walking a labyrinth. For those people who may not have the actual experience of walking through a labyrinth, let me tell you there are many unforeseen directions we can take as we go day to day. We cannot always predict how these twists and turns will manifest in real life. We cannot fully anticipate what will happen until we are actually there, the life challenges and how to navigate the actual situation, especially when those we love the most are dependent on our ability to help them, but, we must.

Parents and students will find the expectations of middle school teachers to be very different and considerably more intense than that of their elementary school counter parts. In our experience with helping children and parents make the transition to the secondary school way of life many factors play a vital role in student success and happiness as the intensity and impact of transitioning factors is different for each of our children and how the families are prepared to handle them.

The primary goal of the middle school teacher is to help all of their students become ready to be successful in high school and beyond. Middle school teachers expect all students to be functioning at a higher level of independence than they did in primary (elementary) school. We have found that the teachers who tend to be most successful with helping our children transition to middle school are very aware that virtually all new 6th graders are still operating on a 5th grade or lower level emotionally and perhaps academically. Our children tend to have a greater variation of socially and emotional maturity, while many excel academically. Many students need direct instruction on how to function in a middle school campus.

Primary issues to be considered include; organization, self-advocacy, emotional regulation, socialization and following new routines. Just making the transition to more classes and being with many more students and teachers will take a considerable amount of planning, dedication and effort by everyone involved, i.e., parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, specialists, and of course the children themselves. Later, in high school the teachers are content driven, they are focused on delivering content knowledge on particular subjects to help the students obtain mastery and students will have to adjust to many of the same transitioning issues as when they start middle school.

Many of our children are “visual learners” and benefit by being shown and permitted to have practice with what organization looks like in a specific setting/classroom. They need to be shown how to keep and utilize their materials, including their personal office (their backpack). Their backpacks are often referred to as “the black hole” because many times, school work and other materials that go into the backpack mysteriously disappear, often because the difficulties they experience with executive functioning (planning, organizing and follow-through). Our children need to learn how to navigate from one class to another, how to navigate the lunch room, how to enter and exit the school campus, how to find and use the busses or parent pick-up line for those children not taking busses, what to do before school starts and immediately after school ends, and how to be successful in P.E.. They need “real life” experiences to see how to be successful. They must utilize many social and academic skills, that need to be taught directly, regarding interacting with peers, teachers and others. Additional skills, such as, knowing what a completed homework assignment should look like, what successful note taking and class work looks like, how to study for and complete tests successfully and how to avoid being targets for bullies.

You don’t have to go it alone. At the Support for Students Growth Center in Boca Raton, Dr. Eric Nach and his associates provide social, academic, behavioral and developmental services for individuals ages 4 into adulthood, in-home or in our Boca Raton center.



Raising children can be challenging at times. The little bundles of joy always seem to be growing too fast and sometimes they learn the wrong things from outside sources. Their impressionable young minds can collect information quickly and it is up to us to make sure that our kids don’t learn the wrong things. Even though it is impossible to be everywhere your child is, there are a few qualities that your kids should possess to keep them on the right side of things. These traits include:

  1. Kindness

Kindness is an underrated quality. It is not only important when dealing with people, but also when dealing with yourself. When children learn kindness from a young age, they are able to empathize with others. They are also able to forgive themselves when they slip up, which is a concept most people take lightly. Kindness will also help them to be better in team activities. It also bolsters learning since they are able to listen to others better.

  1. Courage

It takes courage to learn new things. Most successful people become great at what they do, not because they were not afraid to try, but because they overcame their fear. Such courage can be instilled in them from a young age when they are taught not to fear failure.  Such people become even better at relationships with others and when starting new projects.

  1. Honesty

It is important, to be honest with others and most importantly, with yourself. It is especially important because the opposite hinders progress. The opposite of honesty is deceit, which is especially dangerous when you are lying to yourself. Admitting to yourself that you don’t know something, enables you to learn new things, and enrich your mind. Children who acquire this quality early enough in life are able to accomplish more.

  1. Self-discipline

Self-discipline and impulse control are great qualities to have. They enable you to be able to follow through tasks without distractions and achieve more. You are also able to plan your routine and finances better and stick to a plan. Having a disciplined child is all well and good, but you have to be able to balance it with joy for a more wholesome life. It is therefore important to teach your child self-discipline, as well as the need to live a little beyond the parameters of self-discipline.

  1. Resilience

Resilience, when coupled with flexibility, makes for a formidable combination. Resilience allows you to overcome setbacks and accept when things do not go your way. It is essential for great learning according to an extensive study conducted by US psychology professor, Martin Seligman. Resilient children give themselves a reason to try things. They also look at things from a wider perspective and have a more positive outlook on things. They do not turn mistakes into personal catastrophes and are more likely to come out of a slump. They are also able to deal with anxiety and depression.

  1. Positivity

The French call it Joie de Vivre. It is the cheerful enjoyment of life and having a positive outlook. This positive outlook in life helps you to learn to love yourself and to be content. Children that learn how to live a more positive life tend to be better at making friends. Their connections also tend to last longer.

At The Support For Students Growth Center in Boca Raton, Florida, we have online lessons that can impact crucial “success skills” such as these, skills that will mold your kids to excel in all facets of life, including school, social and work.

Dr. Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D. Cert. Developmental and Behavioral Specialist and Associates

Another School Year is About to Begin, How to Balance School and Life: A Guide for Parents

As parents, we do not often think of our children as having jobs, but they really do. The Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines a “job” as “a specific, duty, role, or function” (2017). In school and in other facets of their young lives we want our children to learn to be successful. As I have spent nearly 25 years of my life teaching and counseling children, teens, young adults and their families, I believe that success in life does result without a plan and hard work.

The following are some specifics that will lead to success for both you and your children as the new school year begins…

  • Keep an updated schedule

It is important to know what you need to get done, so that you and your child can monitor if it is getting done and to keep tasks on time. Sometimes, the balance between school and life is lacking because you do not have a clear picture of what you should be doing. Pencil in your tasks in your agenda early on. This is the time to download your calendar app if you haven’t already. Of course, it is important to know which tasks belong in your calendar and which ones aren’t important enough to warrant a mention.

  • Don’t procrastinate

Procrastinating is fun when you are doing what you prefer-until you actually have to do the task you kept pushing to the last minute. Regardless of how tempting it maybe to hold off until the last minute, it is best to do your tasks when they need to be done so that you can avoid the stress that comes at the eleventh hour.

  • Get enough sleep

Being well rested is a key ingredient in performing your tasks well. A good night’s sleep can never be overrated. Sometimes you might not sleep well, but always ensuring that getting enough sleep every night is a priority in your life.

  • Prioritize your work

So you have all these tasks that you need to do, but do you really have to do them today? It is important to prioritize your tasks in such a way that the most important and time sensitive asks are on top of your list and get done first. Pick and set out to complete the most important tasks that you need to complete every day. These tasks could be home or school related. After completing this, you are free to spend the rest of your time as you wish.

  • Avoid distractions

When you have a busy schedule that involves balancing school and home-life, you have to be careful not to get too distracted in your day to day life. Distractions interfere with the completion of your tasks, which means time allotted for certain tasks get taken up by others. The end result is that you will end up with some priority tasks which will creep into the next day and the cycle will continue endlessly.

  • Learn to say no

It is called school-life balance but it is not actually a perfect balance. Like the saying goes, you can have it all, but not all at once. At some point, something will have to take the back bench. Just because you get eight hours of sleep doesn’t mean everything else will be completed in the remaining waking hours. This means that sometimes you will have to say no to social events when your friends ask. Maybe when you are done with school, you can recover the lost time by going to as many birthday parties and sporting events as you can.

Do one thing at a time, do your best to complete it, then do the next thing on your list.

Dr. Eric J. Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D. Certified Developmental and Behavioral Specialist

For more information about the services available at the Support for Students Growth Center in Boca Raton, FL, visit our website at: