Newswise — Transitioning from elementary school to middle school can be both exciting and terrifying for a tween.

"It is perfectly normal for your child to be nervous about starting middle school," said Dr. Joyce Stallworth, senior associate dean in The University of Alabama's College of Education.

Stallworth said family support is key to a smooth transition.

"Parents need to talk to their children and explain that it is normal to feel anxious and that they will make it through this crucial transition period."

She said certain new routines may cause anxiety when students enter middle school for the first time. These may include the following:

Getting lost or finding classes

Opening the locker

Having more than one teacher

Carrying around all those books

Changing before and after physical education (P.E.) class in front of other kids

"Before that first day of school, discuss these new routines and procedures with your children, and share your own middle school experiences. This would help tremendously," said Stallworth.

"It helps your child to learn and accept that all of this is a natural part of growing up."

Another important role parents and families can take in the transition process is with the school and teachers themselves.

"It is so important for families to be involved and to attend PTA/PTO meetings and events like 'open houses' to learn about the school and meet the teachers—to become a partner with your child's school."