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Encouragement For Transitioning To Middle School

February 20, 2024
By Terry Miller

I recently had the opportunity to watch a video of a rare scene. The video showed a crab molting out of its exoskeleton. It is rare for humans to observe this process because as the crab outgrows its outer shell and needs to cast it off, it enters an extremely vulnerable state as it struggles to remove the shell that it no longer needs and moves into a new phase with its larger exoskeleton. This process takes time and is usually performed in solitude at the bottom of the ocean.

As I watched the video, I couldn’t help but notice some similarities between the crab molting and the transition to life in middle school. It is a time of natural and necessary growth, it takes time and can be uncomfortable, and it requires removing what is outgrown in order to fully experience the new.

For parents and students who are preparing to make the transition to our middle school this year I have three words of encouragement as you begin this time of transition. The first is to be flexible. It isn’t always easy to shed the things we have outgrown and move into the new path ahead. For students, sixth grade will be a time where they are expected to be more independent.  For parents, encouraging and supporting your children as they take on greater ownership in their learning is important. Adjusting to these new expectations requires flexibility.

The second word of encouragement for students is to be patient in the process. Just as it takes time for the crab to shed its exoskeleton, it may take time to become familiar with their new schedule as well as new teachers and their own expectations. It may take time, but students will fall into their new routine, and they will enjoy the many opportunities in middle school including new friendships, retreats, sports, socials, and field trips.

The final word of encouragement for students is, like the crab in the middle of molting, there will be vulnerability. Please ask for help. All of the teachers in the middle school team are eager to help students and parents through this transition. Christian Heritage has a warm community of parents and a PTL who want to support parents and students and welcome you all to the middle school community.

This spring the Middle School Team is also preparing to welcome our rising sixth graders to our program. We recognize that this time of transition can bring many different emotions. As we partner with our fifth grade teachers to prepare transition events for the rising middle school students we hope to replace worry or fear with a sense of excitement for the upcoming transition.

In the coming months there will be four different events for rising sixth graders each with the purpose of building a sense of community in the middle school, answering questions the students may have and building relationships between the rising sixth graders, current middle school students, and their teachers.

The first event is the rising 5th grade parent meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7:45a.m. in the CHS Barn.  It’s a chance to hear from faculty about expectations and have any questions answered.  Then, there will also be a lunch meeting when fifth graders join the sixth graders for a special question and answer time. The two classes meet together over pizza and the sixth grade students answer specific questions that the fifth graders may have regarding middle school.

Next, the fifth grade class has a visit to the middle school science lab for an experiment. This is a chance for the students to see the lab space where they will have Science class, but also have a chance to meet me and become more familiar with my role not only as their Sixth Grade Science teacher, but also as the Middle School Director.

Finally, students will receive a visit from current Sixth grade teachers to introduce themselves and deliver CHS goodie bags that contain a personal letter written by a current middle school student.

It is our hope as a middle school team that each student and family feel welcome and supported in the middle school community. May this time of molting be one where you don’t feel alone on the bottom of the ocean, but surrounded by a community who encourages you in your growth!


Terry Miller is an alumna of Christian Heritage School. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in education from Taylor University and her Master’s degree in education from Sacred Heart University.  She has taught middle school science at CHS for 18 years. This is her third year serving as Middle School Director where she works closely with students, parents and teachers to build the middle school community. She attends Calvary Evangelical Free Church with her husband Jeff and their three children: Ben, Sam and Kate.


Wayne Russomano says:
February 20, 2024 02:06 PM CST
Great job

Merry Joy Olson says:
February 23, 2024 08:57 AM CST
This is such a great analogy and kind words of encouragement. You are a blessing to our students and all of the CHS community. Your post almost makes me want to go back to middle school. Almost...

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