Hampton Lutheran students traditionally rank among the top of their class when they go on to junior high. And it’s not just because HLS teachers have high expectations for kids in the classroom and help them grow academically—it’s also due to their parents’ involvement in getting kids ready for junior high.
Parents are committed to their children’s education just by sending their children to a private Lutheran school, where their kids get more one-on-one time with teachers. HLS parents volunteer, fundraise, and attend school events with their children. This parental involvement contributes to better parent-teacher communication, which leads to more engaged students.
Parents also have a role in establishing routines and expectations at home to help prepare their kids for junior high. This might involve homework, chores, or other family responsibilities.
Kids’ Responsibilities in Junior High
By the time students reach junior high, they take on such a great amount of responsibility. Kids are expected to excel in academics, participate in weightlifting and sports programs, possibly student-manage a high school team, and sometimes hold down a part-time job like babysitting or farm work. Some junior high kids get up at 5:30 AM to be at school early for activities. At home, they may care for younger siblings and taking on chores and family responsibilities. In junior high, kids are gaining much more independence and self-motivation. By ages 14-15 (in eighth grade), most of our students are driving.
The students rise to meet the expectations set for them. Our children learn those important lessons like follow through with what you start, don’t give up, and rely on the strength of your faith every day. The students follow the model set by the adults around them.
5 Ways Parents Can Help Get Kids Ready for Junior High
Kids are hit with a lot of changes as they get ready for junior high. They are discovering their independence and taking ownership in their beliefs and values. As parents, it’s your job to guide them as they become more independent and learn who they are so that they’re ready for junior high and everything that comes with it. Here are some ways to help them get ready for junior high at home.
1. Help your kid get organized
One of the hardest skills to master in junior high is organization. When students are in fifth and sixth grade, they are starting to take more responsibility for governing their own learning. By this age, a student should be more independent in learning spelling words, memory, and studying for tests. They need to be able to keep track of their own homework and remember PE shoes and their trumpet as they go out the door in the morning. Believe it or not, that’s a fifth and sixth grade skill!
Helping the students fill out and maintain an assignment notebook can have long-lasting benefits, even into adulthood. Encourage your kid to figure out what works for them—some may find the bullet journaling system useful, while others may enjoy color coding assignments by the class subject.
2. Practice time management
Managing time becomes more and more important as students are involved in sports, band, and sometimes even hold part-time jobs like a paper carrier or babysitter. Learning this skill in fifth and sixth grade, which is still a rather sheltered environment, will prepare your child for junior high where even more is expected.
Help your student manage their time by sitting down at least once a week to talk about upcoming events that they’ll attend, as well as school projects or tests they’ll need to study for. Help them map out when they can study and do their homework, when they’ll be at activities, and when they can rest and relax. Learning how to set aside time to decompress and have fun is an important part of learning time management—it can help prevent burnout when homework and extracurricular activities in junior high and high school feel overwhelming.
3. Spend one-on-one time with your kid
Preteen and teenage years can be tough on a parent-child relationship. Work on deepening your relationship with your child before they’re off to a new school with new activities and new friends. Spend quality one-on-one time with your kid. Find activities that you enjoy doing together, such as bike riding, reading, or knitting. Setting aside time to spend with your child can help ground them as they go into junior high, and it means they have a time when they can talk with you about the changes in their life.
In 10 years, your child may not remember a specific lesson on adjectives or fractions, but they will remember that their parents took the time to sit down and help them with homework, or read to them at bedtime.
4. Foster respect for teachers and leaders
School can teach character, but parents can instill respect for teachers, coaches, and authority figures at home. When your kid is upset about a bad grade or how much playing time they got on the court, help them to see their teacher or coach as someone trying to help rather than an antagonist. Encourage them to talk with their teachers and authority figures. Learning how to talk to adults and communicate with teachers is an especially important skill for junior high students, and good communication stems from mutual respect.
Kids pick up on how adults are talked about, so set a good example for them by talking respectfully about people. Your child then can set the example for their classmates and friends in how they talk about their teachers and other adults.
5. Talk openly about faith
At this age, kids are beginning to develop their faith apart from their parents’. Kids are bombarded every day with the world. Be willing to talk about anything openly and honestly. You can support your child by being willing to engage in all kinds of conversations.
It is the school’s responsibility to build on the values that parents teach at home. Family devotions, regular church and Sunday school attendance, and the care and support of neighbors around the children provide invaluable life lessons. And all of these lessons begin at home.
Transitioning to Junior High
Establishing routines and expectations now will make the transition to junior high easier for your kid. Setting aside time to sit down and talk with your kid will deepen your bond and let them know they can come to you when they have questions, feel down, or don’t know what to do. Going into junior high can be daunting—but it’ll be easier for them with the support and love of their parents at home.