Five Top Tips for Making the Most of Grade 9

The move to Grade 9 can feel somewhat overwhelming, but it is also the start of a new chapter in a student’s life. Many start to feel that the learning has more of a point, as thoughts start to move towards what comes after school. This makes Grade 9 an important transition point for students, it provides the opportunity to explore options without the stress of having to worry about standardised tests of researching colleges. Grade 9 is also the time to put in place good study practices, ones that will take you through the remainder of your education. In this blog, I will share five top tips to help you make Grade 9 the best yet. 

Tip 1: Build good relations with teachers. 

Teachers are important to any pupil’s future, they will grade the work done, including the final grades awarded at the end of their course in Grade 10, and maybe beyond. Your son or daughter might also want to ask them for academic references for summer programmes, and possibly when they apply to college, so forming a good relationship with them in Grade 9 is a good start.

A starting point for this should be to encourage your son or daughter to actively participate in class. Being actively engaged in the lesson will help your child to remember what they are being taught but it will also show the teacher that they are an eager student which will help boost their academic reputation. Most grades have some element of subjectivity so your teacher’s perception of a pupil can influence the grades they award. A teacher is more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to a child they know to be an engaged student who makes a positive contribution to their lessons.

If your child has an interest in a particular subject, encourage them to talk to the subject teacher about that interest. Perhaps your son or daughter has watched a documentary or read a book related to the subject, talking to the teacher shows them that the pupil is exploring the subject beyond the curriculum and may also prompt them to suggest other material they can explore. 

Teachers are busy people but if a pupil approaches them in the right way, they will often make themselves available to help with any questions pupils might have about their studies or assignments. 

Lessons often build on previous material, so if a student is having difficulty understanding a concept you should encourage them to address the problem with their teacher as soon as possible to avoid getting completely lost and falling behind. If they are not achieving the grades they want, try reaching out to ask your teacher what your son or daughter can do to improve, are there particular topics they need to improve, or are there additional resources that can help?

Tip 2: Good study skills

Sometimes pupils think that studying is something that should naturally happen, so helping them to understand that it is a skill that can be practiced and improved is an important part in helping them make a good start to Grade 9.

First off, make sure they have a good area to study at home. Having a set place where they can sit and concentrate while doing homework or online lessons is important. Encourage them to keep it tidy while making sure they have all the stationery and equipment they need to work effectively. 

One of the study habits that many students struggle with is avoiding distractions. So set some ground rules about not having mobiles in the same room while working, teach them how to stop notifications appearing on their screens every time somebody sends a chat message. As I have already said, many young people really struggle to let go of their grip on social media, even for a short time, so also make sure that they have the opportunity to catch up, once their work is finished.

Another habit that pupils need to develop is planning, so buy them a good daily planner where they can record test dates, assignment due dates, study times and fun activities like meeting with friends or an important match on television. 

The skill of taking good notes is important for helping your son or daughter learning more effectively. Teachers have different styles of teaching so help your child to experiment with different styles to find what works best for them. Louisa, at LP Tutoring, has some great suggestions about different styles of note taking on her website

Tip 3: Evaluate Progress

Keeping abreast of how your son or daughter is getting on in school is the best way of picking up on any issues early. 

Make sure you ask about school, encouraging them to share not just the academic aspects of their school life but also the social and extracurricular side. We all know that asking a teenager how school was, is likely to result in a very non-committal answer so try to use open questions such as ‘What was good about school today?’ In addition to talking about school also help them to evaluate and improve their study skills.

There are of course more formal ways to evaluate your son or daughter’s progress, through reports, grades and exams. Keep an eye open for slipping grades or notes of concern from teachers. It is normal for grades to dip during the first half of Grade 9, as students adjust to new expectations and subjects, our experience is that grades normally go back to a more usual level before the end of the grade. If you are concerned, talk to teachers to help you understand what support or resources might help your child improve their performance.

Tip 4: Try new things

Grade 9 provides a wonderful opportunity for pupils to explore, extend and deepen their career, academic and extracurricular interests. Encourage your son or daughter to sign up for extracurricular activities and clubs linked to areas that they are interested in, but also areas that are new to them. In doing so, you will be helping them to push their boundaries and experience things that would otherwise perhaps pass them by. 

Taking part in new things is not just about the knowledge or experience that they gain, it will also help them to develop the soft skills and self confidence that will help carry them forward into adulthood.

Tip 5: Let them fail

My final tip for parents of students going into Grade 9 is for you to take a step back so that your sons and daughters can move forward themselves. Speaking as a parent myself I know how difficult it can be to watch your child face the risk of failing, but I also know that it is probably the quickest way of helping them grow.

There’s lots that has been written and said about failure, It’s probably a blog in itself. Helping young people to understand that it is normal to be fearful of failure, but never letting failure stop them from chasing their dreams, is an important lesson.   Those with the greatest success understand that failure is simply one of the many stepping stones to success.

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