Moving to high school is both exciting and intimidating. Many ninth graders have a lot of growing left to do, and upperclassmen will tower over them. The building is usually much larger and is organized differently. Students need to move at a brisk pace, both to get to the right class on time and to keep up with a heavier and more challenging homework load.
Ideally, the transition should begin while the student is still in middle school. Gradually taking more responsibility for keeping track of assignments will help to prepare him for the heavier study load in high school. Learning to use a planner and building good study habits now will ensure greater success. Participating in social activities will prepare her for making friends in high school.
What parents can do
When your child begins middle school, purchase a small planner for her to take to classes. She should write down each assignment as it is given, and the date when the work must be turned in. At home, look over the planner with your child each school night. Help her break down longer assignments such as term papers into small steps and note in the planner when each step should be completed.
At first, you will need to have her show you the completed work for every step. Gradually, she will pursue these activities more independently. When the time comes for her to move on to high school, she will know how to plan and execute an extended assignment independently.
Also teach good test preparation. Insist that your child writes study assignments in the planner. Have her take brief notes as she reads, and explain them to you as if she were the teacher. Ask open-ended questions to help her deepen her thinking about what she is studying.
In class, she should always take notes, whether she thinks she needs them or not. This will both help her remember what is taught and provide vital skill practice. Go over the notes with her each night, and have her rewrite them in a neat, organized manner. Explain to her how this will help her learn the material over time instead of trying to cram it all in the night before a test.
Gradually back off on the frequency of times you check her notes and studies, but remain available to answer questions.
Check with your student and her teachers regularly about her progress, and you should be able to spot trouble early enough to head it off. Establishing these habits now, and keeping a watchful but unobtrusive presence in her school life will help bolster her confidence and make it more likely that she will come to you if she has a serious problem.
Encourage your child to join at least one or two school-based organizations. She needs to stay physically and socially active in order to get the most out of her middle and high school years. Knowing how to enter into an informal group activity, make friends and pursue her own interests will stand her in good stead when she transitions to high school.
The summer before high school, find out when the open house will be offered, and be sure your child can attend. If possible, you will go with her, but don’t expect her to stay by your side. Let her assert her independence by taking along a good friend to walk around the school with while you meet with teachers and counselors. Give her a map of the school, and ask her to be sure to find the locations of her classes, her locker, the cafeteria, music room, gymnasium, and bathrooms.
It is time for you to stay present in the background but mostly invisible. No high school student wants a parent tagging along. But she does want to know you’re there to back her up.
Get a list of what supplies will be needed, and a copy of the school dress code. Discuss these with your child. Then create a budget and set aside at least one evening for shopping. Let her invite her best friend to first go through her wardrobe and decide what she needs to look great when school starts.
Take the kids to the mall and let them get supper and do their shopping while you relax in the coffee shop or run a few errands of your own. You can easily stay in touch by using cell phones.
If she has begun having acne problems and has not yet seen a dermatologist, take care of this problem now, before it gets worse. Having clear skin will boost her confidence and self-esteem.
Let her go with her friend to get a new hairstyle for school. Making the appointment herself in a salon she likes that is in your price range will help her feel more independent. She might also like to consult with a department store makeup artist in a trendy shop.
If your child has been sleeping in over the summer, it’s time to gradually set the alarm clock back so she’s getting up on time to prepare for and get to school.
What teachers can do
Have an open door policy. Let students know that you are there to help them and want them to tell you if they don’t understand something you are trying to teach. Work with students individually and in small groups to be sure they thoroughly grasp the material. Create assignments that allow for collaborative learning so students can apply higher level skills and deepen their knowledge and interest.
Watch for signs that a student is becoming socially isolated or bullied, and refer the student for counseling. If you can identify the bully, that person also needs a great deal of help and support. Counseling and peer group support can turn a bully around and help her become part of a positive community.
Meet with parents at the beginning of each semester and encourage them to stay involved with their children’s education. Let them know that you want their feedback and welcome their participation.
What the student can do
In middle school, begin taking more responsibility for study habits and assignment preparation. Use an assignment book to write down homework when it is given and break down big assignments into smaller steps. Get in the habit of doing this, and you will be ready to tackle the more difficult work of high school and, later, college.
Use good study habits. Do each homework assignment on time. As you read, take short, well-organized notes. Listen and take notes in class. Each night, rewrite the class notes. Go over your notes every night before doing the new homework. When time comes to study for a test, you will be ahead of the game.
Participate in at least a couple of school organizations. Make this a time of exploring new interests as well as enjoying familiar activities. Making and maintaining solid friendships will give you more confidence when time comes to go to high school. Besides, it’s fun.
Attend open house before school begins and learn the layout of the building. Walk the route with a good friend. Find the classrooms, lockers (practice how to open them), cafeteria, restrooms, gym, music room, etc.
Meet with teachers and the school counselor so you know who will be guiding you through your first year of high school. If you run into trouble, you will feel more comfortable going to people you already know for help and advice.
Tell your parents what’s going on with you and what you think about it. Sometimes all you need to do is talk, and a solution will present itself. Sometimes not. In any case, it helps to know that the people who have always had your back are still there.
Now the fun stuff. Go through your wardrobe with your best friend and decide what you need in order to look cool at school. Keep the dress code in mind. Shop for these items with your friend in tow. Ask how you look at the things you’re considering. Have a great time.
Get a haircut that looks good on you and will fit in at your school. You also want something that will be easy to take care of. Take your friend along for advice.
Have everything ready to go the night before school so you can get up in good time, have a breakfast and get out the door looking good.
Make this transition to high school a time when you are becoming more independent and finding your own style. Enjoy your high school years.