Ninth Grade a Pivotal Year

Young TeenNinth grade holds a pivotal place in your child’s life. It concludes eight years of elementary education and begins eight years of high school and college education. For this reason, ninth grade should be understood for what it is: a time for stressing academic and personal aspirations — and looking ahead to college.

A transition year, ninth grade is also a time when students “adjust” to more educational responsibilities. Many students don’t realize they have problems until the end of the first grading period. Often, parents and students are not alarmed, believing they have plenty of time to “make up for” a slow or poor start. For all involved, college seems very far away.

However, keep in mind that many colleges and universities make decisions about applications in the fall of a high schooler’s senior year. These institutions base their decisions on three years of grades and academic accomplishments. The student’s performance freshman year “counts.”

How can you and your student avoid a bad start to ninth grade?

  • Before ninth grade begins, have a heart-to-heart talk with your student: discuss what education has been, what it is now, and where it is going in your student’s life. See what discoveries or goals arise out of this conversation. Tell your student you will do all you can to support this new era in his/her education.
  • Provide a nurturing environment for study — a comfortable yet functional workspace away from the noise of family, music or television. Set down rules so younger siblings respect this study time and place. Incoming phone calls should be returned after study time.
  • Create a study schedule. Stick to it with the same discipline that an athletic coach applies to team practices. If the schedule must be rearranged, trade blocks of time — don’t lose the study time. Teens have so many activities that time to study can easily get lost among them.
  • Work on weak subjects: investigate help the school provides.
  • Let the teachers know you are interested in your child’s progress. At the first sign of problems (academic or behavioral) you want to be notified. Freshman year is a critical year. It can set the tone and create the habits that will carry your student through the next four years and provide the routines that he or she will take to college. Make sure that the habits being formed are good ones.

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