Transitioning to high school is a big step for a grade 9 student. Not only is their secondary school likely to be larger with more kids, but there are more choices and decisions to make. This is a time when a child learns to become more independent as they navigate their new learning environment. There may be varying feelings and emotions involved, which is perfectly normal (for students and the adults who love them). The Teachers on Call team has eight suggestions to help your child make the adjustment to high school successful this school year!
Here are our tips to help your child survive and thrive during this major transition.
Offer help and advice, but be prepared to step back
More than anything, your child needs to know they have your support as they take their first steps towards adult independence. Not to be surprised (or too dismayed) if they refuse your help or presence in things like going to their orientation with them. But do offer. Always offer! Even if they do not act like they appreciate it now, it is important for them to know they can always come to you for support, advice and an ear to listen.
Encourage your child to join a club or extracurricular activity
It’s not unusual for kids to retreat a bit to the familiar when the world feels a little too big. This is an important time for your child to learn to develop socially and try new things. The best way to branch out and meet new people? A club or sport activity! It’ll give them something in common immediately. Encourage your child to explore the different options available – coding, yearbook, debating, drama, soccer as well as track and field are just a few clubs and teams to consider.
Support friendships with new and older students
At the start, they will likely stay with the friends they know from elementary school. Yet, this is an exciting time to meet new people. Senior students are often surprisingly supportive of grade 9 kids, and they can be a great resource for helping with the adjustment. It might be helpful for your child to talk with a receptive older friend who will show them the ropes. A club or extracurricular activity is a natural place for kids to meet cross grade levels.
Teach the importance of time management and organization
Equipping your child with knowledge they can use to help themselves is essential. It helps enable them to learn more independently and gives them autonomy in problem solving. It also helps them learn to self-advocate! Encourage them to use a variety of time management tools like digital planners, agendas and calendars to stay organized through the week, month, semester and academic year.
Ask your child about their day
Ask your child about their day the way you would a partner or friend. Make a point of knowing their schedule so you can ask leading questions if they’re being uncommunicative (e.g. What are you learning about in math class lately? Are you enjoying chemistry?). This shows your child that you care and are interested in their learning.
Talk about starting community involvement
The Ontario Ministry of Education has a community involvement requirement in place for students to graduate high school. Talk to your child about their interests and explore different options. If your child is interested in online opportunities, check out our past blog on How Students Can Volunteer Virtually.
Explore the different resources available
What are resources your child should know about? Encourage them to reach out directly to their teachers or guidance counselors for class questions or general academic advisement. Explore educational support sites with different learning and special education resources available to take advantage of. There is often a list featured through the school newsletter and website, as well as on the school board website.
Encourage your child to get academic help if needed
The transition to high school level courses may be challenging, especially in subjects like math and science. Should your child be struggling to complete homework and assignments, encourage them to seek out help from their teacher, peers or a professional tutor. Grade 9 is a foundational year, and the difficulty of subjects only increases. Receiving help and clarification early on for key concepts will go a long way towards a pathway to success.
Try not to stress, this is a momentous time with lots of learning for everyone! We wish you and your child the best for their transition to high school this academic year.
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