The transition from middle school to high school marks a pretty exciting time in a child's -- and a parent's -- life. But it can be scary, too. It's not just a move to a different school -- it's a whole new environment. The beginning of high school can be overwhelming and confusing, and not just because the buildings are physically bigger and the campus is unfamiliar. Kids leaving the middle school "bubble" for the jungle of high school not only have to deal with new teachers and academic demands, but also an entirely different set of students, some of whom are three years older and much more mature.
The switch to high school can be disastrous if a child doesn't make the transition smoothly -- more kids fail ninth grade than any other grade [source: Weber]. Most school systems do pave the way by implementing transitional programs, which can involve everything from campus visits to shadowing students, but it's never easy. Our list of the top 10 differences between middle school and high school will help you identify some of the pitfalls you might run across as your child enters ninth grade -- like what happens when your trombone-playing math whiz finds out that band practice conflicts with calculus? We hope you'll find some advice that will get you through this often crazy time.