It has been nearly ten years since I finished up my eighth grade year, eagerly awaiting the beginning of my high school career. (Yes, I am aware that still makes me pretty young!) I can distinctly remember the nervousness I felt as I contemplated what the next four years would bring. Though I had many “high points” during high school (becoming a Christian, getting my driver’s license, receiving college acceptance letters, etc.), I also underwent great changes and challenges that, for better or worse, helped shape me into the woman I am now.
There is no way for you as a leader to foresee what specific triumphs and hardships your girls will go through during their time as a high schooler, but you have an incredible opportunity to plant gospel seeds in them now so that they will be able to come out of this phase of life with a Biblical foundation and perspective. We as disciple-makers do not only want girls to survive high school, but to flourish and develop into godly women who are passionate about the glory of God.
Here are 3 ways to help your 8th graders’ transition as smooth as possible:
- Carve out time to address their questions and concerns. Whether it be a scheduled event or a spontaneous coffee date, plan a time in which girls can ask questions, receive encouragement, and put to rest some fears that naturally come with the anticipation of change. I did this the first year I led an 8th grade group, and have vowed to never stop — it was so helpful for them to “get it all out” and put everything into the proper perspective.
- Plan a small group leader social. If your girls will be with a different leader in high school, get with the student pastor or girls minster and plan a time for the girls meet their new leader with you. This will help them adjust more comfortably, and you can offer their new leader some insight and encouragement as you (tearfully) pass them on to her.
- Realize that the end is far from over. This one has two parts, because you not only have time left in the school year to lead, but your influence does not end when they start 9th grade. First, while you still have them on a weekly basis, incorporate specific Scripture readings and prayers into group time; always point them back to God’s Word when you talk about the future. Second, invite them over from time to time to catch up and hear how God is working through them in their new phase of life. Even though you won’t be their small group leader forever, you can continue to have a relationship with them for many years to come.
We hope that you feel equipped and encouraged to navigate this season with clarity and confidence. Share your ideas with us in the comment section below!