The end of August is a study in contrasts for many children. It's still a time for riding bicycles all day with friends, or just hanging out without worries about homework and schedules.
But it's also when kids once again start moving at a faster pace, stocking up on school supplies, quibbling with parents over the latest styles at back-to-school sales, and musing with friends about what the coming year holds.
What should young people expect as they move up a grade? Monitor contributor Sally Steindorf asked children from several states to offer advice to those who follow in their footsteps. (Children are identified by the grade they just finished.)
"Don't be scared of it. It's not all that hard; you'll get used to it after a couple days. Don't eat the cafeteria food. In soccer, you start with the bigger nets."
- Jamie Curley-Egan, fifth grade, Southborough, Mass.
"It's a big change from elementary school. The work's harder, but you make a lot of new friends. To make friends, be as nice as you can and get along with other people. It's not like elementary school where you get one page of homework. Now you'll get a couple pages every night. Sometimes you have to read for 20 minutes every night. It's fun. Bring extra money for the vending machines. You get your own locker. The school's a lot more crowded."
- Richard Chace, fifth grade, (first year of junior high) Walpole, Mass.
"Be on your best behavior. The work is a little harder than usual. Math was tougher. It's the first year of getting letter grades. Act nice to people if you want to be friends with them. Set aside time for homework."
- Emily Ward, fourth grade, St. Louis
"Be prepared for more homework and long-term projects."
- William Harrison, sixth grade, Concord, Mass.
"Get more organized. You get to make good friends."
- Claire McGarry, first grade, Durham, N.C.
"Study for tests really, really good. If you're having trouble with a subject, ask the teacher for extra papers to work on that you didn't do in class, and ask your mom for help. If you're new, ask students what their favorite things to do are. Invite them over and do things they like."
- Kyle Johnson, fourth grade, St. Louis
"Do well in eighth grade so you can succeed in the long run, and your education will expand. Appreciate teachers even if they're a pain, because they'll help you out."
- Dejuan Lewis, eighth grade, Boston
"Pay attention, study a lot. Don't skip school, especially if your mom comes in looking for you."
- Crystal Kelley, ninth grade, Quincy, Mass.
"You really need to do well in eighth grade. It's the last year before high school when your grades count."
- Kimesha Janey, eighth grade, Bloomfield, Conn.
"Ask the teacher if you have problems. Library is hard: you have to memorize all the science, social sciences, geography, sports - what number they are, where they're located. Plug your ears at lunchtime because everyone is so noisy eating."
- Matthew Trevithick, fourth grade, Hingham, Mass.
"Always listen to your teachers or you'll probably get in a lot of trouble. Pay extra attention to reading assignments so you don't miss anything, take notes."
- Kristine Sullivan, fourth grade, Millbrook, N.Y.
"How to deal with teachers you don't like: Don't let the teachers get to you, keep your mouth shut."
- Gadisa Goso, eighth grade, Boston
"It's fun. You have to learn to read a little bit and do letters. The most fun thing is 'choice time' because you get to do anything you want. Recess, too."
- Christine Chace, kindergarten, Walpole, Mass.
"Don't worry, it's not that hard. Sometimes it is, but you can get through it. Be yourself. Don't try to do things that people wouldn't like you to do."
- Abby Kuhn, fourth grade, St. Louis