Whether your child is “graduating” from elementary school to middle school or from middle school to high school, the transition is a major one. Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center reminds parents that any time a student changes schools can be overwhelming—and particularly when the expectations of the student are higher in his or her new environment. “It’s critical for students to successfully navigate these leaping off points,” says Huntington. She offers several tips for parents whose children are making such a transition:
From elementary to middle school
Stay organized. If your child is disorganized, it will rear its ugly head when he or she moves into middle school. Students in middle school must get used to taking classes from up to eight different teachers for the first time—and keeping track of assignments, projects and homework for each of those classes. Arm your child with a simple, but effective homework organizational system, such as a notebook in which to record assignments for each class each day. Hang a calendar in a central place in the home where your child can record upcoming assignment and test due dates so you can help him or her stay on track.
Hand over the reins. In elementary school, many parents stay closely involved in their child’s homework, but middle school is a whole new ballgame in terms of accountability. Your child must learn to take ownership of his or her academic life. Talk with his or her teachers about how to build and foster independence while still guiding your child toward school success.
Focus on time management. Encourage your child to get into the nightly habit of reviewing to-dos, updating his or her homework notebook or planner with assignments and due dates, and tidying up the desk. Work together to develop an efficient nightly homework routine that includes prioritizing homework based on its due dates and making a to-do list for every study session.
Emphasize the importance of balance. In middle school, many students become busier than ever, with an increased homework load, more time-intensive activities and a more active social schedule. Help your student adapt by teaching him or her to develop a daily routine that puts homework and school first and schedules in time for everything else thereafter. Your child must learn the importance of being efficient with one’s time so that he or she can accomplish all of his or her have-tos and still have time for the want-tos as well.
From middle school to high school
Continue to encourage good organization. High school students must be capable of keeping track of multiple classes along with other responsibilities such as extracurricular activities. Help your teen establish a trusted organizational system for the backpack, locker, and study space. Research helpful organizational apps for the iPhone (such as myHomework or iStudiez Pro) that can aid your teen’s organizational skills.
Transfer responsibility to your teen. When your teen transitions into high school, the responsibility becomes much greater than in middle school (and the workload becomes larger). Teach your teen to communicate regularly with teachers, develop a trusted study plan and seek help right away when he or she needs it.
Keep focused on college. The college search and application process starts sooner than you think, so encourage your teen to pay a visit to the guidance or college counselor sometime during their late freshman or sophomore year. It’s also critical that he or she stay focused on keeping up the grades. While extracurricular activities, sports and volunteer work are great resume-builders, it is more important that your teen stays dedicated to his or her academics. Be sure he or she understands that a cumulative grade point average means that every class matters, and again, asking for help as soon as he or she needs it is important.
Start talking careers. High school is the start of your teen’s adulthood, and as he or she gets closer to college, it’s important to start thinking carefully about what he or she wants to study in college and what types of careers may suit his or her personality and strengths. Seek out opportunities to build upon those aptitudes and encourage your student to investigate internships, volunteer experiences and similar opportunities early in high school that will help prepare him or her to make those big choices in a few years.
“School is an evolution from grade to grade and from primary to secondary school,” says Huntington. “You can help prepare your child for each major milestone by gradually shifting more responsibility to your child, maintaining good communication between you and teaching your child to adopt effective study skills. More than anything, be there for your child as he or she makes his or her way through these big life changes. Listen, offer a good support system and be your child’s biggest cheerleader.”
Huntington is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington’s mission is to give every student the best education possible.
Jackie Pace is a Charlotte native and holds an undergraduate degree in math education from UNC and a graduate degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Winthrop. Over the years, Jackie has taught at Charlotte Latin School, Sun Valley High School, McClintock MS, and CPCC, so her roots are Charlotte. She has owned and operated the Charlotte location on Park Road since 1992 and the Huntersville location since 2001 – so she has been tracking trends in education for over 20 years. Both of her centers are among the most successful Huntington Learning Centers in the country.