How to Know if Your Child is Ready for High SchoolWritten by Friends Academy
The transition from 8th grade to high school is a significant milestone in a student’s academic journey. It's an exciting time filled with new experiences, opportunities to make friends, and the chance to explore a wider range of clubs, sports, and activities.
This transition represents the culmination of years of hard work and growth. So much of what students have learned up to this point in their elementary and middle school academic lives has helped prepare them for this exciting new challenge.
So, how can you determine whether your child is truly ready to succeed in high school?
There are several factors to consider, including their academic skills, social and emotional development, and overall maturity.
Here are some key indicators to help you assess your child's readiness for high school:
Interest and Motivation
One often overlooked yet vital aspect of high school readiness is the mental and emotional preparedness of your child. Before delving into test scores and academic performance, it is important to evaluate your child's enthusiasm toward entering high school.
Are they excited to take the next step in their academic journey? Do they have goals or aspirations that align with attending high school? What motivates them?
The students who get the most out of high school are those who get involved and pursue their interests. Extracurricular activities help students with academic achievement, character development, social skills, and more.
For that reason, parents should also assess their child’s level of motivation and willingness to engage in activities, clubs, or other school-related opportunities.
The more they get involved, the better their experience will be.
Grades, test scores, and teacher feedback are all important components when evaluating a student’s academic preparedness for high school.
As you and your child prepare for high school, you can work with their middle school teachers to get a deeper insight into your child’s level of academic preparedness. Primarily, this effort involves reviewing the student’s competence in core subjects such as math, science, language arts, and social studies. We recommend working directly with your child’s teachers and the school’s administrators to assess their performance in these key areas and how well they are prepared for the next step.
In high school, students will be challenged to learn more advanced concepts in these core academic areas, therefore it’s critical that each student has met the middle school competency standards before progressing to the next level.
Furthermore, it’s also worth assessing the student’s ability to handle an increased workload and complex course material. Can they solve more challenging math problems? Can they take a deeper level of analysis in their research paper? Are they able to meet high school entry standards for reading and writing?
Independence and Responsibility
High school requires more independence and self-motivation from each student. To thrive in this environment, students need to know how to manage their time effectively, complete assignments on their own, and take responsibility for their learning.
How do you measure these qualities?
Start by considering their organizational skills and ability to meet deadlines. Are they on top of their work and what’s expected of them? Teachers evaluate these skills regularly, so don’t hesitate to have these discussions with them if you want more insight.
Another critical aspect to consider is self-advocacy. High school students must be capable of communicating their needs, asking questions, and requesting help when necessary. Therefore, it’s worthwhile to assess your child's ability to express their thoughts, seek assistance from teachers, and actively engage in class discussions.
While emotional maturity is a complex and nuanced quality to measure, its significance and potential for impact extends far beyond high school.
High school can be emotionally challenging as students are daily faced with social pressures, academic demands, physical changes, hectic schedules, and various other challenges.
Observe your child's emotional resilience and ability to handle stress, conflicts, and peer pressure. Are they able to communicate effectively, make responsible decisions, and cope with setbacks or disappointments?
Emotional maturity is a valuable and universal skill. If your child demonstrates the ability to handle complex emotions at age-appropriate levels across different life situations, they are likely equipped to reach the level of emotional maturity needed in an academic setting.
As students transition into high school, they enter a larger and more diverse social environment than they have likely experienced before. High schools encompass a multitude of individuals with varying academic, social, economic, and cultural backgrounds, which present powerful and exhilarating opportunities that require a certain level of social skill.
Does your child have the necessary social competencies needed to meet new people, create new friendships, work collaboratively with a peer they don’t know, and interact positively with students of all ages? And more importantly, can they do it every day?
Interacting with adults is obviously quite different from interacting with other students, which requires a different set of social skills. Therefore, it’s important for your child to be able to communicate well and develop relationships with teachers and staff, which actively contributes to a well-rounded and enriching high school experience.
How Friends Academy Prepares Students for High School
Students are best prepared for high school when they benefit from learning in a single school or school district from PreK-8th grade. That stability goes a long way toward allowing children to spend less time on adapting to new environments and more time on deepening their understanding of the world around them.
Here at Friends Academy, every division from PreK to Upper School is part of a unified, cohesive curriculum that focuses on intentional, year-over-year growth for our students. This approach is part of the reason that we’re the #1 private PreK-12 school in Nassau County and have built 147 years of academic excellence.
We encourage you to learn more about the benefits of this approach here:
- The Gift of Stability: 3 Benefits of Staying at the Same School from PK-12
- Why Students Benefit from a 4-Year Middle School Model
To get a deeper look into how Friends Academy prepares students for high school (Upper School), we invite you to download our resource, The Family's Guide to Middle School at Friends Academy.
In this guide, we'll explore:
- The Unique Challenges Facing Middle School Students
- Quakerism: The Guiding Light at Friends Academy
- The Middle School Experience at Friends Academy
- How Middle School Students Prepare for Upper School and Beyond