Making the Transition to Junior High

May 9, 2016
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making the transition to junior high

by Brittany Smith, Sixth Grade Teacher

The transition from elementary school to junior high opens a lot of new experiences, but can also leave some students feeling anxious and unsure of what to expect.  Junior high is full of more teachers, new schedules, and having the opportunity to be involved in extracurricular activities. Here are five tips when preparing your child for junior high.
Encourage your child to experience and participate in new activities. This may entail trying a school sport, getting involved in band or show choir, or being a part of other committees or clubs Des Moines Christian School has to offer. As they become involved in various activities, they gain new friendships and may find new hobbies they truly enjoy. Your child's friendships may change from year to year, depending on their interests and where they want to invest their time and talents.

As your child is entering junior high, they begin maturing spiritually. Every student in junior high through high school will be a part of a small group led by a teacher. These groups meet throughout the week and get to encourage each other on in their relationship with Christ. It is important to be open with your child about what is going on in their life and what may be pressing on their heart. I urge you to take time each day to pray with your child and keep the communication open so they feel comfortable coming to you when they desire prayer and advice.  

It is important to set up an organizational plan that works best for your child at the beginning of each school year. Using a planner to keep track of assignments, deadlines, and other important information is highly encouraged. In order to keep their locker organized, one idea may be putting shelves in their locker to create more space for books and supplies. This may encourage them to use their locker instead of keeping everything in their backpack and carrying all their books from class to class. In 6th grade we suggest color-coding folders and notebooks for each class. Students can quickly grab which color they need for each class and switch out their books and folders in-between classes. Students will find which strategies work best for them.

Time Management
Now that students have more opportunities available to them, it is important your child learns how to manage school, family, faith, and their studies wisely. If their schedule allows, a study hall throughout their school day would allow them to get some of their homework done at school.  I would encourage you to come up with a routine and expectations for after school that works for your family. It can be a big adjustment for students participating in extra-curricular activities to figure out how to balance homework and studying on top of practices or games.

With how our world is constantly changing and becoming more technologically advanced, a digital plan might be what your family needs.  It is important to discuss with your child how social etiquette rules apply the same online and offline. So often text messages and social media can be misunderstood or misinterpreted, causing hurt feelings or arguments within friendships. Another idea you may want to think through is what your child will be allowed to use for social media. For example: Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram, etc. Discuss with your child what is and is not allowed. If you do not already, you may want to have some rules put in place for at home as well. This may mean no digital devices at the table or keeping a central charging station overnight. Find a plan that works best for your family and keep in mind it may need to be revised throughout the year as they become older and more responsible.

Junior high is going to be an exciting, but also challenging phase of life your child will experience. As you are approaching this new transition, know that teachers and administrators are there to help you and support you with any questions or concerns you may encounter.  We encourage you to continue the journey with your child as they learn, grow, and know how to make a difference in their own lives and others around them.

Additional Resources:
An Open Letter to Parents of Middle Schoolers, Nicole O'Dell
30 Tips for Raising Middle Schoolers, Family
Season of Change: Parenting Your Middle Schooler with Passion and Purpose, by: Rebecca Ingram Powell
The Overlooked Generation: Parenting Teens and Tweens in a Complicated Culture, by: Shannon Perry