How to Help Your Child Thrive in Early High School: Year 8

Throughout the early years of high school, particularly in Year 8,  your developing teen will be expected to embed core learnings in English and mathematics while further developing their critical thinking and reasoning skills.  There will be an increase in the volume of schoolwork and in the number of extracurricular activities, alongside hormonal changes and increasingly complex social relationships. Couple these changes with competing demands on parents’ time and it paints a picture of why many students begin to fall behind at this crucial stage of the school journey.

Five Ways to Show Your Support

1. Active Involvement in School Work

If you have more than one child, it can be difficult to share time amongst siblings evenly, especially if one or more of your children have special needs. Finding time to help your child feel supported, both emotionally and academically, will help them thrive throughout high school. Simple strategies may include:

Acknowledging individual progress and/or success with schoolwork, no matter how big or small.
Provide ongoing support with homework or seek support from a tutor where required.
Setting aside time to help your child plan their schoolwork and build their time-management skills.
Spending one-to-one time talking with your child about their school life.
Acknowledging that they are growing up and treat them with the respect and maturity they deserve.

2. Balance Extra Curricular Activities

There are positive linkages between participation in extracurricular activities and academic performance. While developing new skills outside of school curriculum provides positive outcomes in the short and long term (specifically on higher education and professional aspirations), but be mindful not to let your teen attend too many extracurricular activities that can leave them physically and mentally exhausted. As a parent, you are best positioned to create the right mix of extracurricular activities for your teen but remember that balancing these activities with schoolwork is key.

3. Avoid Making Maths a Chore

Some 13-14 year olds will find maths less than appealing, particularly if they find the work challenging. You can help to increase your teen’s numeracy skills by sneaking maths practice into everyday life. From budgeting, to cooking, to board games, there are a variety of ways you can involve your child in maths practice:

Year 8 Core Capabilities:

Examples at Home:

Understand patterns involving decimals, graphs, and algebra.

Build a chart to map your child’s savings and extra chores they can do to increase savings and reach a goal.

Build fluency in complex calculations and three dimensional objects.

Take up opportunities to design plans together e.g. furniture or even planning household renovations.

Problem solve rations, profit and loss, and diagrams.

Allow your teen to take charge of a household budget (spreadsheet). Have them make recommendations.

Reasoning including justifying the result of a calculation or estimation as reasonable and deriving probability.

Play board games together or even try a strategic mathematical game such as Equate.

Ensure these activities remain fun and do not become laborious. Do not give up on the first instance if your child does not want to participate. If you find that he or she is avoiding maths homework or maths around the home, there may be an underlying issue. Speak to a teacher about progress made in class, or ask us a formal assessment today.


4. Build a Backbone of Literacy in the Home

In Year 8, students are expected to read more complex texts and demonstrate critical reasoning. You can model these skills by spending time with your child analysing  information either in the news (for example, finding new stories that are supported with facts), or by reading books together.

The texts that support and extend students in Year 8 span from fantasy to non-fiction, historical genres and fiction for young people. Build a passion for reading by choosing a text from the class curriculum, reading it in parallel, and discussing the outcomes together. Alternatively, should your child be more creative, you can encourage writing skills by supporting creative writing practises such as song writing or drawing comics.

By the end of Year 8, students are expected to have mastered the ability to interpret and analyse language choices and explore the ideas and viewpoints in literary texts, among other core skills. If you feel your child is struggling with a core subject like English, speak to their teacher or consider booking in a free assessment, and take action sooner rather than later. Children who fall behind in English in Year 8 may find it harder to catch up in later years.

5. Don’t Assume Your Teen is Simply Being Defiant

Children desire more and more autonomy as they grow, while also going through significant changes in their physical and mental development. While there are many reasons for behavioural changes and mood swings in teens, parents may want to keep an eye on when these behaviours occur. Signs of school work anxiety include avoidance, resistance, or withdrawal. If you see the signs, reach out to your nearest Kip McGrath Education Centre for a free assessment today.


Published in Secondary