My daughter Esperanza is about to start the ninth grade at KIPP Navigate College Prep in San Jose, California. I asked her some questions regarding her middle school experience and things she would like to share with others entering middle school or preparing for the eighth grade.
If you could choose a few favorite things you took away from your time in middle school, what would they be?
During my middle school years, I was able to improve my grades throughout the years, I learned how to study better, ask questions, and was pushed by my mom and dad. I would also say that making meaningful friendships is also a positive experience I had.
What do you wish you would have known before going into middle school?
There is a list of things I wish I would have known:
- Reading is extremely important, I wish I would have practiced my reading before attending middle school because there is a lot of it.
- I wish I knew how important it was to not be shy to ask questions and ask for help, the only person that will benefit is you.
- If you are too shy, then wait until the class is over to ask the teacher any clarifying questions. Either way, it is better to bring up your questions or concerns before you get left behind.
- Don’t procrastinate when having to study. Don’t wait until the night before to cram all the information. I wish I would have studied as soon as I knew I had a test coming up because I would have done a lot better at times.
- Don’t take study guides that are provided to you for granted because when you start high school you’ll have to create your own, I wish I would have gotten more practice in creating my own.
Would you mind sharing some difficult times you experienced in middle school?
- Science was difficult for me, but mainly because I didn’t ask questions which is why I mention how important it is to put your shyness aside.
- If you have an opportunity to retake a test or redo homework, take advantage of it even if it takes extra time, second chances don’t always come easy.
- I procrastinated in studying, and it affected my grades, it wasn’t until then that I began studying long before my next test and I saw a big difference in my grades.
What about socially? Anything you’d like to share?
- Make sure that the group of friends you have (whether it is a big group or small) care about you and are honest with you. Middle school can be tough, and you’ll need real friends to get through it.
- It’s okay not to be friends with everyone, you don’t have to make everyone happy.
- Join a sport and/or a club because it is fun, and you get to meet new friends. You also learn good sportsmanship, being friendly, and how to support each other.
- Have fun and don’t take things too serious.
My eighth grade experience had both ups and downs. One thing I would’ve done differently is taken ALL the chances to do retakes. Sometimes I didn’t take them because I was either too “lazy” or “didn’t want to.”
Some advice to give to incoming eighth graders is to pay attention or you won’t really understand the class. Read a lot because it will help you. If you study, don’t study the day before the test because it doesn’t really help. Study a couple days before until the test because that way you aren’t rushing it.
When I struggle in class, first I ask the people sitting near me when I am allowed to. My teachers also support me by having individual check-ins and asking me questions to make sure I understand what we’re learning in class.
My most memorable moments in eighth grade were making new friends and being able to see myself grow because my grades were better. At the beginning of the school year, my grades weren’t good—as I said before—but throughout the year, the more I started asking questions, my grades went up.
My favorite subject would have to be either social studies or ELA. My favorite teacher was Ms. Kenny because she would always help me when I needed it, and I had a great relationship with her. I made a strong relationship with her because she would always check in on me at the beginning of class asking me if I asked a question in any class yet, such as, “I don’t understand, can you clarify this for me?” My other teacher, Mr. Kim, also helped me throughout the year in math.
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