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Transition to Junior High School

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My son is 12 years old and in seventh grade. He's having a very difficult time adjusting to junior high school and just brought home a terrible progress report. His grades: 2 As, 2C's, two Ds, and 2 Fs. He struggled to maintain B and C grades through elementary school, but was never in danger of failing a subject before.

He is an excellent hockey player, and we're wondering if we should make him quit the sport for the year. Do we give him a chance at improving his grades before we do this, or send a message about the importance of school by not allowing him to play hockey?

A: The move to junior high school is one of the most difficult transitions that students ever have to make. Suddenly, they have a different teacher for every subject, and those teachers are not giving them the same amount of guidance that they enjoyed in elementary school. Plus, their hormones are kicking in, further complicating their lives. Please understand that this move to junior high is especially hard for students who have struggled in elementary school.

Fortunately, your son is handling half of his classes successfully. Praise him for this effort. Then, discuss with him calmly why he thinks that he is succeeding in some classes and in danger of failing others. He may simply not know how to study for these classes or understand exactly what the teachers expect from him. It is also possible that he doesn't know how to organize his study time effectively. Plus, there is the possibility that his class load is too difficult. If so, find out if he could drop a class and have an additional study period at school.

Don't make your son quit hockey. It is one area in which he probably feels very good about himself. Focus on getting him the help he needs to handle school. He will find it hard to improve without this help.

You and your son need to have conferences with the teachers of the classes that he may fail to find out exactly how he can do better in them. Be sure to find out if these teachers would be willing to give him some extra help to get him back on track. Consider also the possibility of obtaining a tutor for additional help if the teachers make this suggestion.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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