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Helping your child move from elementary school to junior high

The move from elementary school to junior high can be hard. Students making this change might have difficulty getting organized, managing time and handling a bigger workload. You can help!​​

Students will face new challenges such as:

  • a larger school with more students
  • more than one classroom
  • many teachers with different expectations and teaching styles
  • More homework
  • longer classes and shorter breaks
  • using a locker
  • having no outside recess.

Students will probably have less support from adults to help:

  • stay organized
  • get ready for classes
  • be on time
  • finish assignments

Getting ready for junior high

  • Talk about what elementary school was like for your child. Make a list of what your child found easy or hard to learn and anything teachers did that helped or made it harder. Share this information with your child’s junior high teachers and counselor early in the school year. Meet regularly with your child and his or her teachers to talk about any problems and how they can be solved.
  • Let your child know that stress and anxiety are normal, especially in new situations. Talk about what your child expects for junior high, and what to do when feeling overwhelmed or anxious. Help your child get ready for new social situations by talking about social skills, what makes a good friend, and what to do in difficult situations. Let your child know he or she can talk to you, a teacher, or guidance counselor for help or advice.
  • Before school starts, get a map of the school, review it with your child, and help find the main parts of the school (e.g. the front doors, main office, library, gym, bathrooms). Make a plan for what to do if your child can’t find his or her locker or classroom (e.g. go to the office and ask the secretary for help).
  • Find out about activities and resources at the school that you think your child will be interested in. Do they have an industrial arts, digital media, vending machines, a student lounge? Think and talk about the things your child can look forward to.

Organizing space and materials

  • Get some shelves, dividers and magnets for your child’s locker to keep books and materials organized. Talk about how to set them up. If your child needs a combination lock, get one several weeks before school starts. This will give your child time to practice opening and closing it.
  • Set up a clutter-free study space at home and make a list of what your child needs in his or her study space and backpack. Your child can use the list without your help to make sure he or she has the right supplies. Help to keep the study space and backpack organized.
  • Learn about your child’s school events, assignments, and tests. If your child has an agenda, check it regularly. Volunteer, meet with teachers, and read school newsletters or visit the school website often.

Time management

  • Make sure your child has a watch that’s easy to read. If your child has a cell phone, help him or her get into the habit of checking the time regularly.
  • Find out how long the breaks are between classes, and review what your child will need to have for each class. There may be time to go back to the locker at every break, or your child may have to get ready for more than one class. Have your child put a class schedule in his or her locker and inside every binder.
  • Help your child break up assignments into smaller tasks. Then help estimate how much time will be needed to finish each step. If your child uses a cell phone, help set reminders to finish tasks. Set a regular time for homework and studying.
  • Have a schedule or calendar at home with all your child’s school and extra-curricular activities on it. Review the schedule together a few times a week so your child knows what he or she has to do.
  • Help your child make and use an agenda or calendar (paper or electronic) to keep track of assignments, tests, and due dates.

Where to go get help

For more information about how speech-language pathologists and audiologists can help, contact:

  • Your doctor, public health nurse, or other health provider
  • Your local health centre

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