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As a former fifth through eighth grade teacher, I know how big of a jump it is from elementary to middle school for both students and their parents. Not only do the academics ramp up, but kids go through some of the hardest transitions of adolescence during these years. And, with many districts now starting middle school in the sixth grade, kids are being expected to grow up more quickly than ever before.

In fact, the middle school teachers I worked with used to request certain skills from fifth graders in hopes it would make the leap easier on everyone. And the more support kids received at home to be middle school ready, the better they did when it came time to take on the challenge of more classes, teachers, and schoolwork, (not to mention the social hurdles created by all those new hormones).

Ready for tips on how to make sure your child is ready for their middle school years? Let's take a look. Just promise you'll also relax, at least a little.