Junior year is not for the faint of heart. Tougher classes. Thesis. Leadership roles. ACT. College visits. AP exams. Add to that the uncertainty of the coming school year on the heels of an intense spring, and you’ve got a stressed out kid. Thankfully, spending some time on skill-building and planning over the summer will keep anxiety to a minimum once junior year is underway.
This is the time to fill in any academic subject gaps. When it comes to math, algebra skills should be solid. This content will come back around in higher level classes like algebra 2/trig and pre-calc, as well as on the ACT and SAT. In fact, it’s not unusual for juniors to nail the more difficult math problems and fall down on the easier questions because they’re out of practice. Geometry basics also tend to trip kids up, so a summer review will pay off.
Making these skills automatic now will free up your child’s brain to concentrate on the more difficult math skills they’ll encounter in class and on tests. Khan Academy is a wonderful resource for brushing up, and ALEKS is great if your child needs more intensive work. Taking a practice ACT or SAT will help your child identify the types of math they need to spend some time reviewing.
During junior year, reading can become a trouble spot for a couple of reasons: the complexity of texts and the volume of assigned reading. Strong comprehension and fluency skills make reading much more manageable, productive, and enjoyable. (Fluency is the ability to read accurately, smoothly, and at an appropriate rate of speed.)
Also, typically students don’t have much experience with short nonfiction passages like those found on the ACT and SAT, so even good readers can find them difficult. Reading newspaper and magazine articles is a good way for kids to familiarize themselves with this sort of text. Beyond that, we encourage strong readers to challenge themselves with higher level texts, and reluctant readers to read more regularly (graphic novels and comic books are very effective at hooking kids!).
Many high schoolers get by with subpar writing skills until they have to start their junior thesis. That’s a tough wake-up call! Spending the summer mastering the foundational skills like paragraphs, introductions and conclusions, paraphrasing, and integrating evidence will save them so much time and effort during the school year. Your child will be able to devote their energy to delving into their research and truly learning from the experience. That, in turn, will put them in good shape for writing in college.
Because junior year classes are much more rigorous and there’s a lot more to juggle, your child will need to have strong executive functioning chops to be successful. This will be doubly true in the coming school year, given that school will likely look different because of pandemic restrictions. Your child has a few months of remote learning under their belt, so they should be able to identify what went well and what didn’t. Reflecting on the past school year, examining their performance both before and after the pandemic changed the school experience, will help them prepare for whatever the new school year brings – classes that are taught in person, online, or both. Key questions include:
When students troubleshoot and make a realistic plan well ahead of time, they’re much more likely to follow through once the school year starts. This exercise will also show them that, even with so many uncertainties, there’s a good deal they can control.
Getting a leg up over the summer will enable your child to take advantage of all of the opportunities and growth available junior year. If they could use a little more structure and support, give us a call!