Part 3: Transitioning from Elementary to Middle School in Special Education

Jul 18, 2019 | Blog, Family Engagement, Transition

Transitioning from Elementary to Middle School in Special Education can be a particularly challenging time in your child’s educational journey if you aren’t prepared for the big changes that come along with this.

New BIG school, new (and more frequent) transitions, new responsibilities, etc. We understand that it can seem daunting, but with the right preparation you and your child can get through this time successfully and as smoothly as possible. In this blog post, we are sharing some tips for navigating this transition along with some additional resources that you might find helpful.

1. Start thinking early about your child’s biggest challenges in elementary school so you can tackle them first. 

You know your child best, and your child’s elementary school team can probably offer some helpful tips on this, so start thinking about it early. Some things to keep in mind about middle school:

  • There may be more classwork and homework
  • Students are expected to be more independent and responsible for keeping track of many different classes/teachers at once
  • Scheduling becomes more complicated – students may be changing classrooms for the first time
  • Organizational skills can be put to the test with various handouts and assignments from all the different classes
  • The school building may be larger with more students and it may take a while to learn to navigate
  • Let’s not forget the changes associated with reaching puberty age

Keep these potential challenges in mind. If your child needs help with these things it’s ok to ask. Working with your elementary IEP team, you can make a list of accommodations or modifications you’d like to ask for when you meet with the Middle School IEP team that will help with any potential issues that may arise.

2. Reach out to the Special Education Teacher at the Middle School to see if you can set up a meeting.

If possible, invite the special education teacher at the middle school to a year-end IEP Team Meeting at your child’s elementary school. If that doesn’t work out, see if they are able to meet with you before school starts. This can be a great way to bring your child to the school and get them familiar with the building and staff. You can go over any of the potential challenges you discussed with the elementary school and schedule an IEP Team Meeting to get your child’s goals and any necessary accommodations in place.

3. Set up a school site visit.

This is something great to do while school is still in session so your child can get a feel for how the hallways flow and where the students gather, etc. You might consider doing this more than once to really prepare them. If you get your child’s schedule in advance you can see about scheduling a time before school starts to visit the school and walk them through their schedule so they can see where all the classrooms are located. This would also be a great time to show them where there locker is located, where they’ll eat lunch, etc.

4. Schedule the IEP meeting.

It’s a good idea to get this down on the books so you know when it’s coming. During the meeting you’ll want to discuss your goals and concerns with this big transition. Find out your child’s schedule. Talk about needed modifications or accommodations. You might even want to invite your child’s elementary school special education teacher to a beginning of school Middle School IEP Team Meeting so they can share what they know about your child.

5. Read up on these tips from other resources.

We hope that these tips help set you off in the right direction as you prepare your child for Middle School. If you have any questions or would like to share other helpful tips, you can leave them in the comments below or email me at

Be sure to check out all of the other resources offered on our blog and follow us on social media to help guide you on your special education journey! As parents/caregivers, you play an important role in your child’s road to success.