The move from Grade 5 to Grade 6 is a big deal. Having said that, witnessing this transition for students for the past 20 years it is also fairly predictable. It is exciting and challenging for the average student. It is extremely difficult for kids who struggle with organization. It is a joy ride for students who thrive on multiple notebooks, organized pencil cases,and multi-colored highlighters. By and large, it is an opportunity that most kids embrace to experience growing privileges, added responsibilities, multiple workloads to balance, and a fast paced collage of social interactions that include complex friendship groups, online exposure and interactions, “by the lockers” gossip. Make no mistake, the social world of a Grade 6 student is a not so subtle challenge.
Add social challenges to the academic workload to the new found freedom to moving between classes to exposure to older students and older ideas and you have a stew that brews for weeks and months and leads to a myriad of challenges along the way. It is not easy being a grade 6 student.
But…..all is not lost! Good teachers who are sensitive to the needs of this age group, structured opportunities to interact, ongoing and specific attention to challenged students, and a general openness of grade 6 students to discuss and consider right and wrong choices provides a mix for supporting, guiding, and teaching.
I’ve always considered Grade 6 students as the “morality police”. They really do insist upon “fairness”. As they move through grade 6 at different paces, they are developing as middle schoolers and emerging adolescents. Adolescent development is characterized by unique features. Their bodies and brains are truly being re-configured. This comes with changing chemistry, moods, and capacities. They are struggling with the issues of belonging – What group am I in? They are truly on the road to becoming different people. It is an interesting, exciting, and challenging time.
Last week, on April 20, we met with Grade 5 parents to present aspects of transition expectations to them. Below is a “movie” of the presentation. It is missing a few document images that were not embedded in the presentation. But, it gives parents an idea of what was discussed that evening.
Grade 5 students are about to enter into an interesting time of their lives. The shelter and coziness of elementary school with the singular classroom teacher, being escorted in a line to art class, assemblies where they are watching grade 2 students performing a few holiday songs and opportunities for them (grade 5 kids) to express their leadership at the top of the elementary school ladder, will ALL be exchanged for 8 teachers, 8 classes, longer breaks, choices after school, lockers to handle, sports teams to participate on, a bigger library, more laptops, older kids to walk alongside, assemblies with 17 and 18 year olds out front, exceptional talents on display, high school role models……WOW….it could be overwhelming if we take it for granted! That’s why we don’t take it for granted, that’s why we must support the transition. What do you think?