Freshman Student Development
Fourteen is a pivotal year for students
Fourteen is a pivotal age for students. In many ways they are at an excellent stage in their development to face the demands of high school.
Where a 13-year-old may have been somewhat withdrawn, a 14-year-old is gregarious. They enjoy life and express enjoyment in more laughter, more noise, even more singing.
Though 14-year-olds may have a more mature attitude toward adults, they also have a tendency to be embarrassed by their parents' behavior.
Expected consequences of their maturation are the conflicts between the demands of home and their peer group which often complicates the life for the student. Grouping is an especially important behavior this year. Many times, peer groups will be determined by activities - music, sports, drama, clubs and the like.
There will be some dating by a larger percentage of girls than boys, but a preference continues for same-sex companions as friends and members of an activity group. Fourteen is also a peak age for phone communications. A 14-year-old needs clearly established guidelines for using the phone.
Significant intellectual development takes place this year, also. Two verbal components of intelligence (comprehension and word fluency) mature to 80% of the adult levels by age 14. These skills increase the capacity to think logically and hypothetically. Many students begin to enjoy reasoning.
The 14-year-old needs clear, consistent limits. Their attempt to exceed those limits must be met with tolerance and firmness. They also need encouragement and positive reinforcement for doing well. It will be a difficult year in the classroom, on the playing fields, in the social whirl, and in general. Periods of self-doubt and even recrimination are likely, but usually short-lived.
School will be a challenge. There will be more to do and it will be more complex and demanding.
Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are integrated parts of the ninth grade English curriculum. Vocabulary development and fluency are emphasized throughout the study of literature.
Reading comprehension and analysis of patterns, arguments and positions advanced are also emphasized through grade-appropriate reading material including significant works such as Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Odyssey, and Romeo and Juliet. Students also read functional material such as magazines, newspapers and on-line information.
Writing skills development focuses on demonstrating awareness of audience and purpose and will include examples of description and narration as well as introduction to exposition, persuasion and analysis of literature. Students also are introduced to research skills through writing of a mini research paper. Incorporated into writing units is the study of grammar, usage and the mechanics of language.
Students expand listening and speaking skills through classroom discussion, debate, literature-based projects and presentations. They explore various rhetorical strategies through examination of published speeches as well as a variety of media.
An added benefit of the freshman year is the reduced class sizes in English which allow for more writing and opportunities for cross-curricular units.
In Modern World History class, the student learns of the complex web created by populations, social traditions, geography, the family, philosophies, and history in forming the cultures of the world. The student begins to appreciate the similarities shared by all cultures as well as the wide diversity of experience and attitudes that shape the differences among cultures.
The ninth grader's experience in mathematics may range from Course 1 Algebra to Honors Geometry including an understanding of spatial relations, applying algebra to geometric problem solving, logic, congruencies, geometric inequalities, ratio-proportion areas, and volumes of geometric figures for those students with a strong background in mathematics.
They will become explorers in a world of treasures and challenges
A high school science student becomes actively engaged in learning about the natural and technological world in which he lives. Ninth grade studies begin with Biology or Science Course 1 covering the following areas: earth science, physical science, and life science. Meteorology, geology, oceanography and astronomy constitute the basis of study in earth science. Physical Science surveys the fundamental topics of chemistry and physics by emphasizing laboratory experience. Meanwhile, Life Science surveys major areas of biology such as cell biology, animal and phyla, marine biology, and ecology. In Biology, students take an investigative approach is taken to the fundamental processes of life: biochemistry, cytology, zoology, botany, and ecology.
The physical education curriculum consists of a variety of activities centered around team, field, dual and individual sports, aquatics, physical fitness, and lifetime sports activities. Students gain a basic understanding of the activities and a fundamental background in physical skill and fitness principles.
These activities provide the foundation for choices made in physical education as an upper classmen as well as an adult for a healthy life-style.
Beyond the core academic classes lies an array of electives from which the ninth grader can choose. They include classes in fine arts, like painting and drawing, ceramics and photography. Keyboarding, computers in business, and word processing are options in the business curriculum. Ninth graders also may select courses in the performing arts which include marching band, orchestra, chorus, and drama. Computer drafting, automotive, technology, and photography are a few of the choices in technical education.
In the foreign language curriculum the freshman student may elect to pursue studies in Spanish, French, or German. These courses emphasize basic speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills. Students learn how to talk about themselves, their families, their interests, and daily activities as they develop skills for dealing with practical situations in the language.
The elective program allows students to explore special interests. Additionally it gives them the opportunity to investigate an unfamiliar subject which has piqued their curiosity. Some of the elective programs, the performing arts for instance, often become a community within the larger school for the student - a kind of home base. These programs help students identify their strengths and develop special talents. Whether they are producing prize-winning photos or architectural renderings, playing a key role in drama production, or mastering a musical composition, students often find the elective programs to be places where they discover special talents and develop a sense of pride in their achievements.
Ninth grade must lay the foundation for a successful high school career. The study habits introduced at the middle school level must be continually reinforced. With good work habits any student has the tools to overcome the obstacles school will present.
Freshmen are expected to be active interpreters of knowledge rather than passive listeners. They must engage in in-depth study rather than superficial coverage of information. To illustrate their learning they must perform with competence those skills they have been learning: speaking, writing, listening, research, analysis, problem posing and problem solving.
In the freshman year, students begin to form a plan that will carry them through the next three years of schooling and beyond. They will become explorers in a world filled with treasures and challenges.