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HIGH SCHOOL READINESS Moving from year 6 to year 7 is a big step for soon-to-be-teenagers. They move from being a big fish in a little pond, to being a little fish in a big pond. There are many basic skills that they need to have under their belt, as well as academic skills, to make this a successful transition and survive. I have come up with a list of things that parents can start to do with their young teenagers between now and next January, to help get them ready for high school and make life a bit easier next year.
  • Start a DAILY diary. Buy your child a diary (Collins or Cumberland are quite practical), with a week to open (two pages). On Sunday evening, make a routine of planning their week with them, and eventually by the end of the year hopefully they can do this with little help from you. Fill in important events and reminders, in appropriate time slots and days. Also, get them to write out their homework in their diary at school. If they are unable to do this at school, practise each night writing out homework tasks.
  • Have a DAILY homework routine and study space. If you don’t already, get your child into an afternoon routine of setting aside time for homework. Quite often high schoolers get homework straight away and if they are already in a routine, they don’t struggle to find the time to get it all done! It is equally important to make sure they have a space to study and keep their school work.
  • Practise taking notes. Some simple activities include, reading a story and summarising the key points (saying aloud and also writing down); or you give your child 3 instructions and they write them down summarised e.g. read your book on frogs, highlight the key points and answer the first 3 questions. If your child is having difficulties with this, try talking about your/ their day and summarising the key things that happened throughout the day using their fingers.
  • Develop critical thinking skills. During academic activities, reading and everyday conversation; encourage your child to think critically. This can take shape in many forms, but generally critical thinking involves:
    • Identifying problems and generating solutions
    • Making inferences and predictions
    • Differentiating facts from opinions
    • Distinguishing relevant from irrelevant information
    • Evaluating the credibility of sources
  • Attend (with your teen) all school information nights and transition programs. ASK QUESTIONS. Find out the level of technology that they will be using next year and what they are required to know. Find out if the diary system is electronic or on paper (so that you can practise).
  • Talk to their current class teacher and find out if there are any areas that your child is having difficulties in at the moment. What level are they at with their spelling, reading, writing, comprehension, text types and processing skills? Are they completing assignments on time and at an acceptable standard? Do they ask questions in class and participate in class discussions? If they having academic difficulties or are behind, you may consider speech pathology to evaluate and accelerate their learning.
  • Talk with them about social media such as Facebook and Instagram. It is important to have guidelines as too when and how often they are on social media. Often social media can provide a good source of procrastination and avoidance (as most adults know too well!). Everything in moderation, however we don’t want our teens spending more time on social media, than doing their homework. It is also important to talk with them about turning their phones/ laptops on silent/off, so that text messages and phone calls don’t interrupt sleep. The brain does not learn well on lack of or no sleep!
  • Talk with them about the routine of high school (changing classes, different teachers, having different writing books and text books, having a different uniform). Involve your teen in decision making processes and ask and value their opinion. Encourage them to ask the teachers questions at information nights and talk to older students that are already at high school.
Develop these good skills and routines now, so that as their workload increases and gets harder, they are able to keep up. They will develop solid, good habits that will take through their entire high school life and onwards.