Strengthen Your Student’s Academic Foundation in Middle School
You’ve probably heard that your student’s academic performance in 9th grade is a strong indicator of how they’ll do in subsequent grades. Teachers, counselors, and other parents talk about how to prepare for high school academics. But what does that actually mean?
The transition from middle school to high school is a big one. When your student enters high school, grades are more important, social dynamics shift, and your student has to familiarize with a new school, all while preparing for college. That’s a lot for your student to process and for you to navigate as a parent!
The good news is, there are things you can do to help prepare your student for high school and strengthen their academic foundation in middle school. Focusing on improving skills like how to stay organized, creatively solving problems, and thinking critically will put your student on the path to academic success in high school.
In this post, we’ll focus on what it means to have a strong academic foundation and how you can help your student develop essential skills like how to learn independently and write with clarity.
What is a Strong Academic Foundation?
One of the essential goals of your student’s middle school career should be to create a strong academic foundation. This is different than merely getting good grades. As so many students know, it’s quite possible to get an A in a course without feeling like you’ve really learned much, or advanced in an area of study that will impact your long-term academic progress.
But how is a strong academic foundation established in middle school? This happens when your student practices and develops essential learning skills like learning independently and writing with clarity. Success in high school classes are dependent on these skills.
High school preparation is more than just being good at math, or English, or science, or social studies. Regardless of your student’s academic and/or career path, your student should begin developing learning and writing skills in middle school to be successful in high school and beyond.
When you were in school you probably wondered, what’s the point of this project or assignment? Your student most likely feels the same way. If you can help your student connect an activity in school to an essential skill, you can help them think of it as important training instead of a chore. Seeing learning as an opportunity will set them up for success in the future.
Essential Skill: Learn Independently
Regardless of where life takes your student, there will definitely be times they will need to be able to learn on their own. You might want to remind your student that the purpose of going to school is not necessarily to master all of the content immediately, but it’s really about learning how to learn.
Your student should feel comfortable asking questions and seeking clarification when they are confused about an idea or assignment. However, it’s equally important that they learn how to seek those answers for themselves.
So how can students improve at this? Practice.
Next time you feel like your student doesn’t understand something, try encouraging them to patiently read over the material again. Maintain a positive attitude. Tell them you know they are capable of finding the answers to their questions on their own. Of course, you will still want your student to ask for help when they need it, but allowing them to pursue their own answers will help give them a contagious boost of confidence.
Essential Skill: Write with Clarity
It’s easy to think of writing as a skill that only matters for English class. This is certainly a valid feeling. But the purpose of learning the structure, organization, and strategies of academic writing is to improve the clarity of your student’s communication.
Writing challenges your student to collect their thoughts, organize them, and articulate them in a focused way in order to achieve a goal. There are many ways your student can become a good writer, but the biggest, most overarching skill to practice is writing with clarity.
The best way to practice writing with clarity is to take the process of revisions seriously. Make sure your student takes the time to revise all written work. This includes considering the following: cut unnecessary words, shorten longer sentences, choose active verbs, eliminate unnecessary repetition of words/phrases, transform passive voice to active voice, and most importantly make sure each sentence communicates exactly what the writer is trying to convey.
Communication is only effective if it is understood. By carefully selecting their words and structuring arguments in a logical way, your student can become a better communicator, which will help them in high school and beyond.
One of the best ways you can help your student prepare for high school is to make sure they have a strong academic foundation. Learn more about how Apex Learning Virtual School can help prepare your middle school student for success in high school: https://www.apexlearningvs.com/online-classes-middle-school/.