As with most elementary students, our son stayed with mainly one teacher throughout the day. That teacher would cover all core subjects: English, science, math, reading, spelling, and history. When he reached the higher elementary grades, he would change classes for computer, Spanish, and physical education but remain in the same building. He would still get to leave all of his books and supplies in the main room when he changed, so he did not have to bring them with him. Now that he will enter junior high, he will face the challenge of class changes and getting to each new class on time.
Our now seventh-grade son will change classes all day. The upper division uses three different buildings plus a gymnasium, so he may have to travel the length of the campus in five minutes to get to his next class. Some classes are right next to each other, so he could change with no problem. However, he may have to go from math in the junior high building to the gym on the other side of campus and back to the junior high building for English. Our son knows the campus well. I teach there, so he has seen it many times. Still, though, he has not had frequent changing classes, so that experience will likely confuse him for a while until he gets used to it.
Books and lockers
Our son did not have to use lockers in elementary school. Now, he will have to learn to use one and organize it for easy book exchanges. I suggested ordering his books by class period so he knows where to find each book that he will need next. He will also have to do this while standing in a sea of peers who want to talk about the weekend or complain about the mean old teacher who got onto them for talking in class. He will have to maneuver the crowds that make it difficult to get through the hallways. He does not like things getting in his way, so those crowded hallways may pose a problem. He will have to learn to deal with it.
We have already discussed with our son the need to plan his class-changing strategy. For classes near his locker, he can get just what he needs. For classes far away from his locker, I suggested that he take books for his next two classes so he does not have to run back and forth as much and use up his time. Fortunately, there is more than one way to get from building to building, so he can try different paths and use the one that gets him there the fastest. We expect him to get to class on time - no excuses.
No tardiness allowed!
Our son is not to spend his five minutes socializing. He must get his books, use the restroom if needed and get to class. We will not tolerate tardiness. Three tardy tallies become an absence; nineteen absences mean failure for the class. As his teacher, I will mark him tardy just as I will any other student. As his father, I will take away his favorite electronics and other privileges for any unnecessary tardiness to any class. My wife and I will have instant online access to his grades and attendance records, so we will know if it happens. We have already discussed these attendance matters with him.
Changing classes can confuse a young student who has not done it before. Our son will adjust, but it may take some time. Seventh graders get a little leeway for the first two weeks so they can learn the routine, but then they must follow the rules just like the older kids. We both expect our son to show the responsibility of getting to each class on time. We will not accept anything less than his best effort - even with punctuality.
More from this contributor: