Adjusting to Junior High Curriculum

Article at a Glance

  • Organizational skills are critical to managing schoolwork
  • Get connected with teachers & schools early.
  • Look beyond schools for extra help.

The leap from elementary school to junior high is a big one. Students face a brand new environment as the youngest classmen, and instead of having one teacher, they now have multiple classes with different customs, rules, and expectations. Some classes are year-long and some are only a semester. Keeping up with everything is challenging, especially with schoolwork. However, being proactive and modeling good organizational skills can help your child stay on top of their work and feel more in control.

Here are six tips for helping your child keep up with a new and different school workload.

1. Help Your Child Learn Organizational Skills

Most schools offer some sort of planner for their students. If not, invest a few dollars in a notebook. Paper journals of any type are an excellent way to keep track of upcoming assignments, tests, and other commitments.

Planners can also help students manage their time wisely by helping them visualize their week’s obligations and goals. Help planner use become a habit by modeling your planning routine and setting aside time each day to review your child’s planner. Learning to plan—on paper or digitally—in junior high can set your student up for a lifetime of preparedness.

2. Regularly Check-in

As your pre-teen and teenagers grow, communication skills may seem to dry up. It’s common to get one-word responses to questions, but don’t let that deter you from finding out what your child is learning and doing. Asking open-ended questions and show genuine interest in their responses. Try to remember what they said and follow up later. The more familiar you are with what your child is learning, the better you can better help them.

Here are some conversation starters:

  • What did you learn in English class today?
  • I remember you had a project in History class. How far along are you?
  • How did that Algebra test go today? Did the studying help?
  • What was your most interesting and least interest class today, why?

3. Sign Up for School Reminders

To help you know when semester classes are coming to an end, most schools post or send reminders via text, email, or on their website. Each term, you may need to ensure that you and/or your child is signed up to receive notices for the new classes. This way you’ll both know when there are significant schedule changes, tests, projects, or field trips.

Many teachers also use online platforms like Canvas and Google Classroom that have parent features to help you stay in the loop with upcoming assignments and due dates.

If you’re unsure how to sign up for parent reminders, contact the school or check out these videos:

4. Develop a Good Relationship With Teachers

One of the best ways to ensure your child is on top of his work is to develop a good relationship with his or her teachers. Fortunately, you no longer have to wait months for parent-teacher conferences to roll around to address your concerns. Most teachers welcome email anytime and many are willing to meet by appointment if needed. Secondary school teachers usually have more than a hundred students across multiple classes, so remember to be specific in your inquiry.

Be sure to include:

  • Your child’s name and the class period they have that teacher.
  • The title of the assignment or project in question.
  • The problem or question you have about the assignment or topic.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help

The role of a teacher is to provide a safe environment for your child to learn the class standards. If you feel that your child is struggling to keep up, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Just like you want your child to feel comfortable coming to you with their problems, you want to model that behavior by showing them it’s okay to seek help.

Many parents fear that seeking may label their child as “slow” or move them into a lower track, but this isn’t true. Your child’s teacher may know about extra content (videos, books, etc.) that can help explain a topic or may be able to recommend an after-school study group or tutor that you could explore.

If you think your child may have a learning difference, get them tested and see if they qualify for a 504 or Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The purpose of these plans is to provide students with the necessary tools and resources to learn.

6. Reward and Mark Progress

As your child ventures on their educational journey, highlight the importance of being intrinsically motivated to do well.

  • Talk about how it feels to achieve a test score, turn in an assignment early, or reach their study-time goals.
  • Celebrate & reward the process and progress more than scores and grades.
  • Let them know how proud you are of the milestones they are accomplishing.
  • Motivate & reward your child with small increases in their responsibilities and limits as they demonstrate good time management and work ethic.

Transitioning to junior high school is an exciting and strange time for you and your not-so-little one. Enjoy it and watch them grow into young, responsible adults.

For more tips on helping your child on their educational journey, check out parenting tips for school

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