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Kalles Counselors' Corner
Kalles Counselors' Corner
Posted on 09/26/2018

KALLES Counselor’s Corner

Shawn Adgie: Counselor A-L
Deana Goranson: M-Z (Mon)
Dean Williams Counselor: M-Z (Tu-Fri)

It’s the beginning of a new school year here at Kalles and everyone seems to be ready — 7th graders are spit-shined and looking as pretty as a penny, they are color-coding their folders and sharpening their pencil getting ready for Jr. High. 8th and 9th graders are getting the summer scoop from each other, what the latest styles are and wondering about the new students and teachers that are coming to Kalles. Another new year is beginning!

Seventh graders, especially, are really on pins and needles. Junior High sure is different from elementary! The building is larger, clothes have to be changed in the locker room, there’s six classes a day to attend with only four-minute passing periods to chat with friends and manage to get to the next class on time. Then there’s the homework and dealing with six different teachers. That’s just a few of the reasons why seventh graders, especially, feel considerable stress and confusion. Throw in some blossoming hormones as well as developing bodies, a fight here and there in the hallways and the beginnings of adolescent peer pressure difficulties, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Junior High school often comes as a shock to the system, and it’s the wise parent who is prepared and ready to guide their child through the transition from the relative stability and security of grade school to the somewhat chaotic environment found in many of our Junior Highs. The problem is often due to kids lacking organizational skills, not being particularly interested in managing their time efficiently and perhaps not caring about their grades as much as they should. In response parents tend to become concerned, generally reacting by nagging about homework completion and staying on track, grounding for slacking off, or just plain giving up on the kid.

What as a parent can you do to help your Junior High student?  How can you encourage them, assist them and support them without coming across as nagging or hassling them? Here are some steps that could assist you...

Use a calendar planning program: Every student is provided a one on one device that comes with a variety of calendar programs.  They need to use the “calendar”, for all academic classes, all homework assigned that day or tests/quizzes announced. Preteens and teenagers are notorious for depending upon their memories, and aside from the sheer volume of work that may be assigned, they have lots of other stuff to remember (friends’ phone numbers, the latest gossip and the next soccer practice date). So, it’s important to encourage that all work is noted on the calendar, for each class, every day. And it’s important that you are checking Schoology as often as possible to help support your student.

Complete homework and study for tests in a timely manner Some families find that it works best if the child has some down time after school to shoot hoops, catch some TV or talk on the phone. Other folks have greater success with the kids grabbing a quick snack and then it’s time to hit the books. Whatever works best in your family — do it, it’s an individual decision.

Organize the backpack/ book bag for the next day Needless to say, you don’t need your student running around in the morning trying to locate paper, pencils, laptops and completed worksheets. That should be accomplished the night before when there is plenty of time and no pressure to hurry up, eat breakfast and catch the bus for school. Packing the night before is a good habit to develop not only in terms of school work, but also for preparing for baseball practice, ballet and computer class.

Motivating the unmotivated...Okay, so now you understand some steps inherent in organizing your Junior Higher. But there’s always the alert parent who questions “How do I get my child to do this? He’ll forget to write down his assignments, or even if he does write them down, he may not remember to check the planner.” Well, yes, that does happen and all too often when it comes to working with Junior High students!

Many kids do not see the value in completing all of their work every day, and some even purposely leave books, worksheets and folders at school so that they will not have to study that evening at home. If your child is not internally motivated to complete homework and to study for tests — don’t fret — that’s normal. It’s just very unpleasant and usually leads to nightly arguments, parental hand-wringing and kids placed on restriction!  What can we do to help our kids be more motivated?

Begin with stating consequences (both positive and negative) for homework completion or lack thereof. As far as we’re concerned, doing one’s best at school is one the primary jobs of childhood. Not all kids will be “A” students, but they should give it their best effort.  Setting up a plan ahead of time so that students know what to expect is very helpful.  

If your student follows their calendar, brings home all necessary books and materials, completes written work and studies for tests, and packs the backpack for the next day, then some of sort of positive consequence could be given. Getting time to use electronics for the remainder of the day (TV, video games, telephone, computer, etc.) can be given; privileges to hang out with friends or go to movies, bowling, concerts, paint ball can be cashed in, whatever works for you and your family is a positive consequence.

With school having just begun, it’s important to help your Junior High student with proven organizational tools that are simple to use, make sense and quickly lead to good grades. Motivating the unmotivated with rewards (or taking them away for irresponsible behavior) is a proven, effective technique that will work in most homes — but you must be consistent. Once your kid gets the idea that you only “spot check” the homework, you may see less getting completed and more time spent emailing friends or talking on the telephone. Be consistent, stay involved, and use rewards and motivators that are important and interesting to your children.

Excerpts for this article taken from Dr.Ruth A. Peter, a clinical psychologist the consultant psychologist for the Family Program at the Pritikin Longevity Center, a nutrition and exercise facility in Aventura, Florida.. Copyright ©2004 by Ruth A. Peters, Ph.D.