Level Up! Grade 8 to 9 Transition
Posted on 05/31/2024

In the latest episode of Beyond the Bell, Chantelle welcomes Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board elementary guidance teachers, Nicole Nicoletta, and Sara Vouse. Listen as they delve into the challenges and strategies for successfully transitioning students from elementary to secondary school. 


This episode covers the importance of self-advocacy, effective communication, and the resources available to support students and parents during this significant milestone. Tune in for valuable insights and practical advice to ensure a smooth and confident transition to high school. Listen to this conversation today wherever you find your podcasts.

The following story is based on the latest episode and has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Picture this: your child has been powering through the familiar landscape of elementary school, dodging homework like obstacles and collecting friendship points along the way. But suddenly, you both stumble upon a new entrance. High school. Boss level! Your heart skips a beat. It's exciting, nerve-wracking, and full of unknown challenges! And just like any good quest game, this epic journey comes with your very own guide offering helpful advice, and useful tools. In this adventure, your advisor takes on the familiar shape of a friendly, elementary guidance teacher! 

In our latest Beyond the Bell podcast, Chantelle Quesnelle is joined by Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board Elementary Guidance Teachers, Nicole Nicoletta and Sara Vause. In their roles, Nicole and Sara (and the rest of their team) support Grade seven and eight students, through the transition to high school. They discuss post-high school plans, interests, and strengths while helping them manage those big, adolescent emotions. They incorporate strategies from the board office's Psychology department into their lessons to provide students with effective tools for navigating high school and beyond. With their valuable insights, they’ll have students and families navigating this new level like pros. 

Chantelle: Thinking back, to not only my time in high school, but in the spring, when I was working on a project in our secondary schools, I was thinking how busy the hallways were, how I had trouble figuring out how to get to the different classrooms I was going to! I see how that's such a big change from what it feels like in elementary school. 

Nicole: Yes, definitely! There are lots of things that the kids have never experienced, like using a locker and a lock for the first time. We chuckle when we see the kids because that's usually one of their biggest fears. I won't be able to open my lock, and we know those locks are tough… especially if you are stressed or running late.

Chantelle:  There is the larger building, the meeting of new people, the travelling between classes, the locker, the lock, starting earlier. All of those pieces and then there's also the academic pieces that look different in secondary than it does in elementary. 

Nicole: Absolutely. The academic piece that we try to address with the kids is knowing that when you get to high school, you no longer have just one teacher to deal with. There are four different teachers with four different subjects and four different sets of expectations. And we outline the importance with the kids of making sure they advocate for themselves… and ask for extra help when they need it.

Sara:  It’s more about independence… and I think for some parents that is a huge transition. The best thing you can do as a parent, if your child doesn't get the course that they want or, or it doesn't work with their schedule or something like that, is let your child make the appointment with their guidance counsellor. Let them explain why they need the change and if you need to step in later, that's fine. But allow them to do that. That's a whole skill set, being able approach an adult who's in charge and say, I need you to do something for me. 

Chantelle: This is a big transition for parents and caregivers as well, and we don't always acknowledge that. It's a milestone in parenting and child development as well.  And it’s important to recognize that stress, whether that's as the parent and caregiver or as the student, is normal around this transition. It’s also helpful to know where to go to get support if it becomes overwhelming.  

Sara: Communicate with us! Parents might feel like they’re the only ones feeling this way. If you have concerns about your child's transition to high school, it doesn't even have to be serious, maybe just be something you want us to look out for. Any concerns can be mitigated through communication with us. And we're always available.

Chantelle: Going through what to expect and what a routine might look like are also strategies to decrease stress and anxiety.

Nicole:  The high school staff and the senior students are awesome at making sure they take care of these kids. Kids go in feeling like there's not going to be anyone to help them, but everybody is awesome and welcoming to our students. I hope that parents understand that as well. Everybody is looking out for their child to make sure that they have the best possible start to high school that they can have. 

In the intricate quest game of high school, juniors are guided through challenging levels by staff and senior students dedicated to their success. Despite initial worries, students quickly find their footing and see that the high school community is welcoming and supportive. Before you know it, they'll be equipped with all they need to emerge victorious! So, gear up for the adventure ahead and get ready to level up!

To listen to this episode, look for Beyond the Bell wherever you get your podcasts. Don't forget to check out our online articles at www.beyondthebell.ca.