Back-to-school season usually means fresh clothes, new supplies, friends and teachers.

But for some students who make the move from elementary school into middle school or from middle school to high school, the transition, experts say, can be rough.

Kids need support from parents as middle school and high school can be more challenging than elementary school, said Dr. Marlo Archer, a licensed psychologist of the Ahwatukee Foothills Behavioral Health Network.

“Although it may seem like your children are older and more independent, they could really use your support through the transition,” Archer said.

A sort of social chaos, Archer explains, starts in middle school. Kids bring home stories about “who is friends with whom” and lunch-time squabbles, but Archer warns parents against trying to solve every crisis you hear reported.

“Instead, listen patiently and answer any questions your child might ask you. It is important they learn how to sort out friendship issues,” Archer added.

However, do not ignore bullying or other outright cruelty that should be addressed at a school level, Archer said.

Kavita Hatten, a licensed professional counselor, also of the Ahwatukee Foothills Behavioral Health Network, said that most students, like any adult, go through a loss of friends or teachers.

The most common worry or fear Hatten hears from students about transitioning to new schools or grades is losing friends.

“They fear the peer group changing,” said Hatten, who also mentioned it depends on the individual child.

Some kids have more anxiety about academics, Hatten added. They worry about work load or how the teachers will be, but for others they worry more about the social aspect.

Incoming high school freshmen, if not too late, can participate in summer programs at high schools that help future students get connected into clubs or activities, Archer said.

“High school is not only a place of continued scholastic learning, but it is a laboratory in which kids need to find out how to balance work and fun.”

• Diana Martinez is freelancing this summer for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Reach her at

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