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Helping Your Child Transition to a New School

The transition between grades, especially when it involves changing schools, can be an exciting yet daunting experience for students. In the transition, kids tend to realize that their study habits need an upgrade. Unfortunately, many students find new grades, especially as they transition to high school, to be the time that they fall behind. When you add that in with the pressure to fit in, your well achieving middle or elementary-schooler can quickly become a flustered high-schooler.

With all of the pressure of switching to a new school, ninth grade is a make-or-break year. In fact, a recent report found that although ninth graders have the lowest grades on average, ninth grade often determines whether a student will drop out or graduate. Tampa Bay Parenting contributor Dr. Wendy Rice of Rice Psychology is here with ways to prepare your teen for the transition and to help them get ahead in high school.

Preplan a study and homework time prior to the beginning of the school year.

According to Barbara Dianis, preplanning a homework and study time to begin the school year out helps students meet the scholastic increase of high school level studies. The plan should include additional study time even if the teen has study halls during their school day. The reason for this is some teens do not always effectively utilize their study hall sessions.

Teens entering high school typically need to upgrade their study skills to help them keep pace with their current curriculum. Teens benefit from reviewing the notes they take in each of their classes for at least five minutes a day. Reviewing the class notes taken will help them retain more core learning concepts and increase their ability to access the information on tests.

It is also imperative that you make sure that your child is getting enough rest, especially when they are facing big changes. According to some parenting experts, a well-rested child is more alert and ready to learn, so getting into a routine before school starts is important.

Check and Connect

Your teen might not come right out and tell you when they are struggling, so connecting with their teachers is important. Especially since many schools use the block scheduling method and students may have a new teacher for new subjects every semester, it is important to keep up with what classes your teen is taking.

Parents should try and communicate with their teen’s high school teachers several times a year. According to a Bridgeland and Morison study conducted in 2006, one reason teens drop out of school is a “lack of parent engagement.” High school students who have parents communicate with the school are less likely to dropout.

It is also important for your teen to connect with others in their classes. Studies have shown that teens are far less likely to succeed if they are alone in the subject. Encourage study groups at your house if need be– anything to get your teen to connect with their classmates and teachers.

Set academic troubleshooting up before they slide.

As soon as a student begins to slide academically, educational solutions should be applied to help the teen overcome their academic obstacles. All too often grade declines are not addressed early enough because the parent may feel it is a problem that will correct itself. It is generally better to address the problem early on, before the student grades begin to spiral downward.

Make learning fun during homework and study time. They can make the flash cards from their study material and make review time into a game show format using flash cards. Parents can help their teen develop an interest in learning by asking their teen to tell them three concepts they learned in their classes each day. This keeps parents involved and kids sharp!

In the initial weeks of transition from middle school to high school, teens often benefit from assistance in helping them to adapt to the more complex curriculum. Teens who can learn to enjoy learning and apply educational solutions when they face challenges will always be successful. Students who struggle in school can learn new methods to help them meet the new curriculum expectations, restore their scholastic self-esteem and make the most of their high school years!

For more information on helping your kids transition to a new grade or school, visit

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