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Book Install #38/Ch6/9th Grade

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Installment #38
Chapter 6-High School-9th & 10th Grade
Ninth Grade-Making Observations and Playing News Reporter
The views are more panoramic, but the climb has become steeper. You can now see a little tip of the summit. But you have to reach it in time. You need to cover a certain amount of distance per day and complete many tasks along the way. We're both tired And you're anxious about making it to the top. You look back You're a long way up. This part of the journey is taking a lot more effort. You want to sleep. You want to relax, but you can't. You will encounter some unexpected wind, and rain and will have to keep going. Your body will keep growing, and your mind will keep expanding, and you will have to stop more often to refuel, and a lot more is now expected of you and the pressure is on, and you're huffing and puffing towards the top, and I'm there at each rest stop to cheer you on, and tell you I have no doubt you can do this... no doubt.

High School becomes a look forward. 

All the groundwork laid by Heart, Humor, Perspective and Optimism

will come into play with peer issues and moral dilemmas, academic pressures and pursuits.

Optimism will fuel motivation. 

And motivation will set goals. 

Disappointments, setbacks and redirection are all part of this scenario

just as they are a part of Life.

It is important that kids know how to overcome and move forward

before they graduate from high school, leave home

and enter the next phase of their lives.

That is why I am spending so much time in Middle School building blocks of Optimism.

And while I might be knee deep in talking Perspective,

there is always space to just look at our child and hug him/her and say-

I love you so-o-o-o much/I believe in you/

Tomorrow is another day/Good Times always follow bad.  And just as importantly,

there should always be time to laugh about a predicament,

to find the silly in someone, or the whimsy in something.

Everything in H20 is connected. 

Heart offers trust, security. warmth and the joy of laughter. 

Humor, a balance, an outlet, and future perspective. 

Perspective a focus and an escape route.

They are all steps to growing emotional resilience

and protecting our children from the dangerous elements as they journey to adulthood.

God Bless,

And God Bless our children, twice.


 H20 to Go!

Growing Emotional Resilience and Navigating Through Childhood

with Heart, Humor & Optimism

BY Margo Judge

Updated 2009

H20 to Go! Copyright, 2004
By  Margo Judge

All rights reserved.
All material on this website protected.
Permission granted for reprinting with
Attribution to Margo@MomOpinion Matters (TM)


Ninth Grade. Making Observations and Playing News Reporter
We're off the playground and out of their lives for most of the day. They have entered the last big four years of this stage of their schooling. Here they go, up the road towards higher learning.

Ninth grade is a very important year. It will not necessarily determine our children's future academic success, but it will most certainly highlight their present weaknesses. Some of these will disappear as they progress. But, just as it was important for us to observe their behavior on the playground, Chapter Threenow, it is vital to watch their work progress very carefully.

Why pay close attention to our ninth graders? Because any learning issues they have been able to hide (and kids are masters at hiding issues) will come to the fore. Up until now, the emphasis has been on digesting facts, and developing skills. (E.g. writing, vocabulary) They may have fluffed certain classes, skimmed through reading, struggled with some tests, but high school demands that freshmen take facts and with learned skills start to put their knowledge into larger context. High school students will need to show the affect of one thing on another. They will need not just define, but also explain, and give detailed examples and form well developed conclusions. They will be asked to compare or contrast, question and analyze, discover and uncover meaning in a more in-depth way than in middle school. They will need to know how to think through a process and be able to apply it.
In lower school my son had no patience for long division. He'd figure out the answer and be done with it. One might have concluded that he was advanced, and so it really didn't matter how he got to the answer. But, it did. His wonderful math teacher (with whom I spoke when he continually got bad grades) explained to me that it was vital. Going through a process-step one, step two, step three- would be necessary in applying theory, and deducing an answer. She told me that understanding how something happens, and what it means in the bigger picture is the foundation of critical thinking.  I am reminded of the movie Karate Kid, where high school senior, Daniel La Russo (Ralph Macchio) is asked by his master teacher Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) to do all sorts of chores (wax cars, sand floors, paint the house) that according to Daniel had nothing whatsoever to do with Karate. But they absolutely did in very important and specific ways. So much of the mundane skill bulding that our kids have to put up with has everything to do with their future ability to apply those skills.   I am a very firm believer in the old fashioned way of learning multiplication tables.  It might have been excruciatingly boring to memorize them, but once they were in my head they were there forever. Instant recall is invaluable for future math, not to mention for jobs as clerks or cashiers. I cannot tell you how many young people I have come across in a department store who, when asked what 20% off is, cannot answer. I canot tell you how many young people have arrived all smiles at my door, wanting me to sign some petition. They make their pitch, but once I start to ask more targeted questions, or I offer a counter argument-they are lost.  All of a sudden it is as if the teleprompters went down and they have nothing to say.

So, we should pay close attention to how our ninth graders do in their work. Are they receiving bad grades for homework handed in late; doing poorly in quizzes because they are not studying; is their writing sloppy and full of grammar mistakes,(mine still is at times!) are they are behind in their reading? We need to know what has to do with organizational skills, laziness, lack of focus, or real learning struggles.

Our children’s success in high school will depend on how they handle process, how they think through a problem, how accurately they can support and argue an opinion, how well they can write a cohesive paper, or present an oral report. It is not enough to ask our kids why they are getting a D in language, Math, English or Science. They might tell us honestly, but that will only be half the story.  The other half we will need to hear from their teacher.  It is imperative that we have an open and honest conversation about how best to help our child succeed. What is the teacher seeing?  What is he/she looking for? If, at the first parent/teacher conference, a red flag goes up, do not wait! If you're told that he/she has no patience for the details; he/she is struggling with writing, or comprehension; organizational skills are a mess–ask the teacher's advice, and know that your student can with immediate attention and added support, overcome all of this and do well.
Academics affect how teens feel about themselves.  Not only are they in natural peer struggle mode, (I will discuss this separately) but, if they are also in academic struggle mode also, it will only intensify anxieties. Neither of these modes will they willingly share with us. But, there are some simple things we can do.

An extremely easy exercise in critical thinking is the following- Play The Newspaper Reporter -Who, What, Why, When, Where, How Game--simply ask your high schoolers their opinion about something in the news. Example Katrina.
They might say-
I think The Federal Government really failed after Katrina.
(You might want to agree or disagree, but resist. Instead just ask, why?)
Because they took too long to send help.
(Don't stop–then ask– When and how did help finally arrive?)
They didn't respond for X days, and they didn't send in the National Guard.
(Where did you hear that they didn’t respond in X days-make them offer a response; who is responsible for calling up the National Guard?")
They might not know. At which point you can say that if they are going to state something as fact, and then form an opinion based upon that fact, they need to be able to source it. And if you find a wrong fact, correct them and let them then work around it–as in the National Guard.
Did you know that the governor of a state has complete power to call up the National Guard? He/she does not need to ask the President.

You do not need to know the answers to your questions. In fact, you do not need to know anything at all. The exercise is all about asking your teen to explain--What they mean? Who was involved? When did such and such happen? How did they hear about it? Why did it happen? Where did they hear this- all the Who, What, Where, Why, When, How questions we can ask. (By the way this is how a newspaper article is written)  

I spoke about Beginner questions in Middle School. (Installment #13)Beginner's What-If QuestionsThose questions offered our kids a way to explain themselves. We are now in the advanced course. It is not enough for them to just explain themselves. They need tobe able to explain the world and have facts to back up their opinions and thoughts. So, the more we can have this Who, What, Where, Why, When, How conversations with our teenagers about news, movies, music, sports, and clothes anything that interests them, the more practice they will have in the process of framing their thoughts and explaining their point of view. And, the more we can get them to talk out their views and learn how to support those views with fact and example, the easier it will be for them to do it in school,(it will make them excellent writers and public speakers) in work (written proposals and oral presentations) and in life.(solving conflicts and making decisions)
Life is coming fast and furious at our high schoolers. Head and Heart have taken up battle positions. We want Head to have the stronger perspective.  So, lots of discussion, lots of questions, keep our teens thinking as much as we can for the next 4 years.
The more our kids can critically think, the more understanding they will gain. 
The more understanding they gain, the more secure they will feel. 
The more secure they feel, the more resilience they will have. 
The more resilience they have, the more likely it is that they can get past a moment in time.
Remember, the one thing we do not want to see happen to our teens is to get stuck in a feeling, or a situation. We want them to have perspective and to see beyond the immediate and have the strength to keep climbing. Ninth Grade…the beginning of that climb.