Thursday, August 28, 2008

High School Transition by Connect with Kids

“(My sons are) scared and you’re nervous and you want to fit in. And hopefully they’ll come home and talk about it. And I know Kyle was worried about getting beaten up…and that’s the first time he’s mentioned that.”

– Carrie Bickwit, mother

Kyle and grant have spent the summer playing,

But now high school is just a few days away.

“As it gets closer it gets more… it hits me more that it’s that close,” says Kyle, 13.

“I’m a little nervous about all the homework,” admits twin brother Grant, “Everyone’s saying about how it’s going to be twice as much as middle school.”

Kyle worries about fitting in…

“I’m kind of shy,” he says, “And if you’re in with people you don’t really know, you’re afraid you’ll make a mistake and that’ll ruin you.”

Psychologist Nancy McGarrah, Ph.D., says there are plenty of kids who share Kyle and Grant’s concerns. “I hear a lot of headaches and stomach aches this time of year, because they are so anxious about going to school,” she says.

To help a child gear up academically, experts recommend a little extra reading the last several days before school begins.

“We’re actually doing a pre-reading book report and right now it’s taking a while ‘cause it’s summer and my brain’s off,” says Grant.

For a child worried about fitting in…experts suggest find a friend with an older son or daughter who’s been through it all…

“To tell them that this is going to be short lived,” says Dr. McGarrah, “This is going to be somewhat painful but it’s something you adjust to pretty quickly.”

Next, as soon as school starts, join a club, or activity- any small group where you can make friends.

“In a big school it’s even more important, because you really can feel lost in the crowd.”

Finally, whatever their fears or anxieties…

“I think it’s important to reassure them,” says Dr. McGarrah, “To tell them first of all that all kids feel that way. Even the kid that you look at as the most successful, attractive kid is probably feeling that way.”

Tips for Parents

Ninth grade is a time of great change in many students’ lives. They are either the “big men on campus” or else they are on the bottom of the totem pole. As the debate rages on as to whether ninth graders should be in middle or high school, experts have developed advantages and disadvantages to keeping ninth graders in the same school with the sixth, seventh and eight grades.


Ninth graders can have a leadership role that they would not enjoy in a senior high school setting.
The difference in age between age 14 (ninth grade) and age 18 (twelfth grade) is so great that it can be difficult for some ninth graders to adjust.
Some ninth graders are too young and immature to be placed with senior high school students.
The four-year stay in one school facilitates better relationships for students, staff and parents than a shorter stay.

Ninth graders are more like tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders because most have gone through puberty.

Separating ninth graders from tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders limits curriculum and extracurricular offerings for them.

The younger children, especially the sixth graders, may want to imitate the ninth graders and grow up too fast.

Ninth graders will experience a variety of new skills and milestones. It is always good for parents to have some idea of what their student is going through, and the following list should help.

Intellectual Skills – Higher expectations coincide with his/her own increasing abilities. He/she will have interests that span farther and wider than ever, in addition to a greater awareness and curiosity about the world around him/her. An example of your teenager’s expanding intellect is his/her newfound skill of deductive reasoning.

Social Skills – Your adolescent is becoming less egocentric in his/her views, and that gives a greater ability to compromise, to stay composed when he/she's in disagreement with someone and to be generally more tolerant and even-tempered. His/her view of the world will settle first on the friends he/she has around him/her.

Emotional changes – While your ninth-grader is less self-conscious than he/she has been in the past couple of years, he/she is most likely still uncertain about how he/she measures up. Physical appearance matters greatly to him/her, as well as how they're developing.
Challenges – Your student will encounter many challenges throughout the ninth grade year, and the most common ones are academic failure, eating too much or too little, struggling with abstinence versus teenage sex and adjusting to a bigger school.

U.S. Department of Education
Family Education Network
Parent Soup
Partnership for a Drug Free America