11 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Junior High School
1. 7th Grade Orientation
Your incoming 7th grader should attend orientation. New students will connect with counselors and teachers, as well as with some 8th graders, learn the layout of the school, and make friends with other 7th graders. Your child will feel more connected and confident on the first day of school if they attend orientation.
2. Organization is a State of Mind
Find time in the car or at dinner to sneak in some conversations which will cause your child to think through the day and how to stay organized. Try, “Have you thought about what you will do with your PE clothes?” or “How will you use your time in the morning before first period?” Most junior high-age kids do not readily warm up to conversations like these, so be a “ninja” parent, sneaking in these conversations when you sense an opening. Here are some other ideas to help your child think through organizational challenges:
Homework — How will you keep track of your assignments? (Hint: Every La Loma student receives a student planner.)
Athletics — What will you use to take your gear to school? When will you put it in your gym locker? How often will you bring your clothes home to be laundered?
Technology — Where will you keep your phone so it is safe and not a distraction at school? (Hint: Students are asked to keep their phones off and put away during class time. Students may access their electronics before school, after school, during passing periods, and during lunch.)
Money and prized possessions — Where will you keep these items during the day? (Hint: Students in junior high should not bring large quantities of money or valuable items to school.)
A student’s backpack (a.k.a. “the black hole”) is another good place to start. Have your student take everything out of their backpack each week and have them organize any loose papers and put them into their binder, by class. This helps them understand the importance of keeping organized and provides an opportunity for you to talk about what they are learning as you sort through papers with them. They will think it is important if you think it is important. Keep it positive!
3. Use PowerSchool Wisely
PowerSchool is the district’s on-line database which allows parents to see attendance and grade information for every class. It is a great way for parents to make sure their student is completing assignments. Using PowerSchool wisely means to be patient in looking at the actual grade and to focus on homework completion and dates of upcoming tests and projects.
4. A Clean, Well-lit Place
Students have homework most days in junior high. It may not be much, but it will be an expectation of teachers that students complete homework by the start of class the following day. To support this, establish a routine right away. Make sure that your child has a clean, quiet and well-lit place to study and a span of time (before or after dinner) committed to homework.
5. Practice getting to school and plan for emergencies
If your child will be getting to school on his/her own, practice the route a few times before school starts and talk about places where help can be found if needed. Businesses, bus drivers, or homes of people you know are good possible spots for help. Be sure you and your child are both confident about getting to school alone.
Good attendance is a critical factor in student success. Most students miss five or fewer days of school per year. Last year at La Loma, nearly 200 students had perfect attendance. Students with good attendance are more likely to have better grades, graduate from junior high, and be prepared for high school. Monthly and annual attendance incentives are given to students with perfect attendance. You can help your student be more successful by stressing regular attendance at school. If you have attendance questions or concerns, contact our attendance clerk at 574-1906.
7. Encourage the Buddy System
If your child is worried about facing the first day of school alone, encourage him/her to call a friend from elementary school who will be attending La Loma and arrange to meet before school or at lunchtime. Making plans for lunch will calm fears about facing a crowded cafeteria alone.
8. Practice Wardrobe Wisdom
Shopping for school clothes with junior high schoolers can be difficult. Striking a balance between setting limits and giving your child some autonomy can make it easier. First, consult the dress code. Revealing and suggestive clothes, and clothes of particular colors may be prohibited. Then let your child consult with friends to see what everyone else will be wearing. It’s also a good idea to not buy everything before school starts; this gives your child a chance to see this year’s must-have fashions before the clothing budget is exhausted. Give kids as much freedom in selecting their wardrobe as you can, but reserve the right to have the final say on what is appropriate. Be aware of what your child is wearing when they head out in the morning.
9. Teach Time Management
Teach your child to make the most of his/her time by always carrying a book or review sheet. Then odd moments like waiting for the bus or sitting in the doctor’s office can be used as productive study time. It’s also important to help your child to establish an evening routine that includes time for homework and any other obligations your child has. This will help avoid the junior high school time crunch that comes from having more homework and more time-consuming extracurricular activities.
10. Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Child psychologists recommend the following strategies for talking to your junior high student:
Talk with your child frequently about small issues. If he won’t tell you how baseball practice went, he won’t open up to you about more important issues either.
Talk to kids while driving or cooking, instead of sitting down directly across a table for a chat. It can be less threatening for junior high schoolers to talk if they don’t have to make direct eye contact.
Be persistent. Children may not look like they are listening, but they are. Keep in mind that your child wants to be independent, but does not know how. At this age, students still depend on you emotionally as well as to learn the skills they need as they grow up.
11. Take Advantage of School Programs
Students who are involved have a larger group of friends, feel more connected to the school, get better grades, and have fewer discipline issues. La Loma has a variety of programs to engage and help your student be successful. Your student should consider getting involved with our outstanding music programs like chorus, band, and orchestra. Our school is a countywide leader in STEAM programs like Robotics, Future Cities, Academic Pentathlon, and Multimedia/Film. We also have programs to help your student academically such as tutoring, After School Program, and Extended Summer School. Students should speak to teachers and our school counselor for more information.
Junior high can be rewarding. With some active parenting, students will grow, learn, be ready for their next adventures in high school, and look back fondly on their experience in junior high.
Some information was taken from the following resources:
Tips for Preparing Your Child for Junior High
Helping Your Child Prepare for Junior High School
Getting ready for middle school