Year 8 High School Survival Guide

Posted on August 2, 2017 by Patrick Condliffe

Table of Contents

1. An Overview of Year 8
2. Year 7 vs Year 8 – The differences
3. What is Stage 4?
4. Subjects studied in Year 8 at school
5. What to expect for Year 8 English
6. What to expect for Year 8 Mathematics
7. How to achieve a smooth transition into Year 8

 

Your child may have completed Year 7, but do you understand what that means? Do you know what changes for your child as they begin Year 8?

The end of Year 7 signals the completion of your child’s transition to high School. Year 8 students are now clearly high school students and are given the opportunity to develop the skills developed in Year 7. Year 7 has introduced them to a new scholastic system where they are increasingly responsible for their own learning. Year 7 students have had to take the initiative with their study habits and patterns.

There is no NAPLAN assessment, and so the immediacy of learning and improving their skills and knowledge can be neglected. However, just because there is no urgency in the Year 8 assessment schedule doesn’t mean that Year 8 is not important.

In this post, we will explain what your child can expect in Year 8; discuss why it’s important to help them consolidate their skills, and the importance of establishing good routines and study habits now.

 

An Overview of Year 8

What’s expected of students in Year 8

Students must be prepared for the following when transitioning into Year 8:

  1. They must expect an increase in conceptual difficulty
  2. They need to consolidate their Stage 4 learning
  3. They must pexpect an increase in homework
  4. they need to take greater personal responsibility.

“Just because there is no urgency in the Year 8 assessment schedule doesn’t mean that Year 8 is not important.”

Common issues among Year 8 students:

    1. Students have trouble establishing routines – Students struggle with the sudden increase in workloads and school and extra-curricular commitments throughout high-school. Developing consistent routines early on will help students manage these things.
    2. Students aren’t organised – Many Year 8, students have not become used to organising themselves. They often don’t know what they need to do ahead of time to get the best results and make their lives easier. They must learn to work smarter, and not just harder.
    3. Students don’t polish their skills – Often Year 8 students don’t practice their skills and take their mastery for granted. It is important that students remember that they need to keep improving their abilities.
    4. Students don’t develop their critical thinking skills – Often students don’t prioritise or plan things logically. This is an application of critical thinking skills. These are essential for your child’s scholastic success.

“Year 8 is a crucial stage for students to develop their critical thinking skills.”

Let’s have a look at the differences between Year 7 and 8 to see what your child has in store.

Year 7 vs Year 8

Year 8 has new challenges for students, but is still part of Stage 4. Many parents are unsure of exactly what this means for their child. Here’s a table to help you understand the changes.

Year 7
Year 8
Concepts
Introduce new concepts Consolidate and master concepts before advancing to stage 5.
Subjects
English

Mathematics

Science

Creative Arts

Human Society and its Environments

Languages

PDHPE

Technology and Applied Studies

English

Mathematics

Science

Creative Arts

Human Society and its Environments

Languages

PDHPE

Technology and Applied Studies

Homework
1 hour per day 1.5 hours per day
NAPLAN
Year 7 Assessment No NAPLAN
Table: Comparison of Years 7 and 8

 

In Year 8,

  • Students continue Stage 4 – This means that there are no new expectations placed on students.
  • Students consolidate their learning – While students learn new things in Year 8, the focus is on consolidating skills to ensure they have mastery of them.
  • Existing ideas become more complex – The existing knowledge that students have is applied in more complex ways.
  • Students rotate through a subject cycle – Many schools will rotate students through several elective subjects over year 7 and 8. For example, students might do French one year and Mandarin the next, or History one year and geography the next. This is to help students decide what subject they enjoy.
  • Receive more homework – The further a child progresses into high school, the more responsibility for they are given for their own learning. In English and History, students will be given more research projects that require them to find out information for themselves.

“Year 8 is all about consolidating knowledge and skills.”

As you can see, Year 8 is about develop skills and entrenching skills and routines. This is an important stage of development for your child.

What is Stage 4?

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) divides the learning outcomes for students 6 Stages for Kindergarten through to Year 12.

  • Each Stage is comprised of two grades, i.e Stage 4 is comprised of both Years 7 and 8.
  • Each Stage has a specific list of Outcomes. These are the levels of attainment that students should achieve for that Stage.
  • The syllabus is structured so that students consistently accrue and develop skills between Kindergarten and Year 12.
  • We will look at some specific stage 4 outcomes as we discuss the English and Mathematics syllabuses. More information about Stage 4 can be found on the NESA website.

 

Subjects in Year 8

Year 8 students will learn the following compulsory subjects:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • History
  • Geography

Your child’s school and teachers will also select elective subjects for them to study. These elective subjects will be drawn from these broad subject areas:

  • Creative Arts
  • Human Society and Its Environment
  • Languages
  • Personal Development, Health, and Physical Education (PDHPE)
  • Technological and Applied Studies

Students will need to follow a timetable to know which subject they have at what time on any given day. Sometimes they may even have the same subject in different classrooms on different days. For example:

 
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Period 1
Italian

Ms Coppi Rm:C23

PDHPE

Mr Tucky Rm:Gym

History

Mrs Kaiser Rm:H5

Italian

Ms Coppi Rm:C23

English

Dr Grunfelt Rm:C23

Period 2
English

Dr Grunfelt Rm:H4

Maths

Mr Fermat Rm:A2

Geography

Mrs Capricorn Rm:H5

Science

Dr White Rm:S54

Maths

Mr Fermat Rm:A1

Period 3
Science

Dr White Rm:S54

Italian

Ms Coppi Rm:C23

Music

Mr Gliss Rm:Music Room

English

Dr Grunfelt Rm:H4

Maths

Mr Fermat Rm:A1

Period 4
Science

Dr White Rm:S54

History

Mrs Kaiser Rm:H5

Art

Mr Nalon Rm:Art Studio

English

Dr Grunfelt Rm:H4

Art

Mr Nalon Rm:Art studio

Period 5
Maths

Mr Fermat Rm:A2

Geography

Mrs Capricorn Rm:H5

Design and Technology

Ms Fard Rm:Workshop

Sport

Mr Tucky

Pastoral Care

Rm: Homeroom

Table: Sample Year 8 Timetable

 

Year 8 English

The texts year 8 students study become increasingly complex compared to year 7. However, as Year 8 is part of Stage 4 students work towards the same outcomes.

NESA has provided a set of specific outcomes for Stage 4 English. Matrix Theory Books are designed to help students achieve the complete list of Stage 4 Outcomes:

  1. Responds to and composes texts for understanding, interpretation, critical analysis, imaginative expression and pleasure
  2. Effectively uses a widening range of processes, skills, strategies and knowledge for responding to and composing texts in different media and technologies
  3. Uses and describes language forms, features and structures of texts appropriate to a range of purposes, audiences and contexts
  4. Makes effective language choices to creatively shape meaning with accuracy, clarity and coherence
  5. Thinks imaginatively, creatively, interpretively and critically about information, ideas and arguments to respond to and compose texts
  6. Identifies and explains connections between and among texts
  7. Demonstrates understanding of how texts can express aspects of their broadening world and their relationships within it
  8. Identifies, considers and appreciates cultural expression in texts
  9. Uses, reflects on and assesses their individual and collaborative skills for learning

 

It is important for students to read continually throughout Year 8. This means reading texts that are not studied at school this will continue to hone students’ skills for reading, comprehension, and analysis. At Matrix, students study a variety of text types to specifically address the the Stage 4 outcomes.

“Students must master writing in PEEL paragraphs to communicate their increasingly complex ideas.”

 

The table below outlines the Year 7 and 8 English program at Matrix.

Year 7
Year 8
Oct – Dec
 Introduction to Reading Texts  Journalism and Poetry
Feb – Apr
Introduction to Analysing Texts Texts Through Time
Apr – Jun
Introduction to Persuasive texts Representation and Perspective
Jul – Sep
Introduction to Shakespeare Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet
Table: Matrix Year 7 and 8 English Program

 

For many students, Year 8 will be the first time they encounter Shakespeare. Shakespeare is an important figure in English literature. Students undertaking English Advanced in Year 12 must study a Shakespearean play. In addition, students will keep developing their communication skills. Key amongst these is the ability to write complex analytical paragraphs.

Year 8 students can expect to face questions like this for English at school,

Image: Year 8 Sample English Question

 

Year 8 Mathematics

Year 8 mathematics further develops students skills and consolidates their existing knowledge. The mathematics topics that students learn in Stage 4 (year 7 and 8) are outlined below:

  • Computation with Integers
  • Fractions, Decimals and Percentages
  • Financial Mathematics
  • Ratios and Rates
  • Algebraic Techniques
  • Indices
  • Equations
  • Linear Relationships
  • Length
  • Area
  • Volume
  • Time
  • Right-Angled Triangles
  • Properties of Geometrical Figures
  • Angle Relationships
  • Data Collection and Representation
  • Single Variable Data Analysis
  • Probability

More detailed information about Stage 4 Mathematics can be found on the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) website. At Matrix, students address all of the topics set by NESA in their Year 8 Mathematics Theory Books. Each lesson is designed to ensure students meet the Stage 4 outcomes.

 

Year 8 students will learn how to solve more difficult equations. These will have real world applications and feature one and two variables or unknowns. Students will be introduced to statistics. They will study introductory probability, single variable data analysis and their practical applications.

“Year 8 mathematics teaches students practical skills that have important applications in the real world.”

 

The table below outlines the Year 7 and 8 Mathematics program at Matrix.

Year 7
Year 8
Oct – Dec
Directed Numbers
Fractions
Decimals & Percentages
Indices
Algebraic Techniques
Linear Relationships
Feb – Apr
Algebraic Techniques
Financial mathematics
Ratio
Time
Equations
Rates
Length
Area
Apr – Jun
Algebraic Equations
Angle Relationships
Properties of Geometrical Figures
Length & Area
Algebraic Techniques
Equations
Properties of geometrical figures
Volume and Capacity
Jul – Sep
Pythagoras’ Theorem
Area
Linear relationships
Data Collection & Representation
Probability
Similarity
Financial Mathematics
Table: Matrix Year 7 and 8 Mathematics Program

 

A year 8 student needs to be confident answering questions like this,

Image: Sample Mathematics Problem

 

How to help your child transition to Year 8 smoothly

Your child’s psychological health during this period is important. The challenges presented by new peers and teachers, as well as course work that has an increased level of difficulty, can place an onerous burden on students. It is important for students to find a balance between studying and actually being a child and teenager.

“Helping your child develop good study habits during years 7 and 8 is essential to giving them the best opportunities for their future.”

Helping your child with their study, and communicating with them about what they need to do for school is crucial. Helping your child understand what assignments are asking of them and discussing study planning with them will help them stay on top of the increased workload of high school. You don’t want to pressure your child unduly, you need to support them.

  

How you can help your child:

1. Develop a daily and weekly routine

You will help your child immensely if you can establish a regular routine. This will help them plan their days and remember what they need to do each day.
This can be done by:

  • Waking up or leaving the house at the same time
  • Aiming to have dinner around the same time
  • Having a consistent bedtime will enable your child to plan their evenings.

 

2. Help them get organised!

  • Parents should help students plan out their days according to a daily timetable that considers:
    – When they need to get up
    – How much they need to study
    – When they should study what subjects
  • Parents should help their children plan a weekly timetable. This should be organised to align with their school timetable.
  • A weekly timetable should include their extra-curricular activities and plan out study time over the weekends.
  • Keep a calendar handy and visible so your child knows what’s coming up! They need to know about the Thursday in March when they have dinner with Nan as much as the Maths test they have in April. This will help them plan!
  • It is important for students to establish study routines early in High School so they have productive study habits as they advance through the grades.

 

3. Help them set goals

Goal setting is an important skill for children to learn. Goal setting will enable them to aim for a specific achievement and plan towards attaining it. It might be making a specific sports team, or it could be raising their marks in a subject by a specific amount. It is important that children should have a wide range of goals that are not limited to academic achievements.

You can help your child set goals by:

  • Asking them what they wish to achieve in Year 8. Get them to consider a wide range of things – school, sports, extra-curricular activities, personal goals.
  • Help them plan out a practicable timeline. For example, trying to raise their marks from 5/10 in a maths test to 8/10 could be a goal for a term.
  • Make sure they have benchmarks to meet between the start and finish dates. This way you can both keep track of their progress. it is important that you encourage them in this!
  • Celebrate with them when they achieve their goals! You don’t need to reward everything, but you should acknowledge their achievements and show them you are proud of what they have accomplished.

 

4. Show an interest in their homework

It is important that you know what your child is studying, and be aware of when they need help or are struggling. It is easy to forget how difficult learning can be. You want to help your child with problems before they fall behind their peers. Showing an interest in their homework forces children to try and explain their knowledge to you. While students in High School need to be self-directed and independent, they still need assistance solving complex problems. Some ways to do this are:

  • Asking them what they are doing for various subjects.
  • If they are stuck on a problem get them to explain it to you. Sometimes discussing the issue will give them the solution.
  • Instead of solving the problems for them, work through them with your child. It is important for Year 8 students to complete tasks to deadlines unassisted.
  • Do research with your child. If your child has a research task, show an interest in it. Sit down with them while they research and discuss ideas with them. This will help them develop confidence.

 

5. Be there to listen

Children need to be able to have frank discussions with their parents. it is important that your child can come to you and ask for help if they are struggling with things. Often children are scared that their parents will be upset that they struggle with a subject. Rather than asking parents for help, they try and hide their issue. This can quickly snowball into a big problem!

 

6. Build a relationship with the school

Schools are there to help your child. Getting to know you children’s teachers and year coordinator will help you keep track of their progress. Schools often have programs to help struggling students and high-achieving students. Being involved in the school community can be time-consuming, but it also gives your child and you  a support network

 

7. Get to know their friends

A child’s friends are an important peer group that will help them deal with stress and also learning. But high school is a big change. Children are often upset when they lose some friends from primary school. They will make new friends in High School, but you can help them establish relationships with new people by getting to know them, too. Don’t be pushy, but do show an interest.

 

We hope this blog and the links provided are a useful resource in preparing you for what’s to come in Year 8, and in achieving your academic ambitions.

Want more helpful articles?

 

© Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au, 2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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