We are a few weeks into the Fall Semester here, and for our new high schooler things are going pretty good. She is really enjoying some of her new found social freedoms, and her first foray into team sports is proving to be a great success for her personally even if that win isn’t always represented on the score board. But with all of these new adventures comes some anxiety and a few new challenges. Her challenges aren’t all that unique as many of us former high schoolers can attest, but there are some unique things that today’s adolescents face that we never did! So, when supporting your student’s transition from middle school to high school, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Keep Homework Time as Positive as Possible – many students will find the academic rigors of high school to be much more demanding than those of middle school. Students who didn’t have to spend much time studying in lower grades may be challenged for the first time, and most schools don’t have the time to teach good study skills. Make sure that you help your student set aside a space just for homework and that you help them eliminate distractions to the extent possible. You might even want to help them make study note cards to aid in the process, but always keep the emphasis on their best individual effort. While not every kid will make A’s, all kids can put forth their best efforts and we can all celebrate that!
2. Make Sure that Tech is Being Used for the Right Reasons – if the only time that they are on their laptop is to update their social media posts, we have an issue. Technology and the internet can be great resources, but Wikipedia is not an appropriate place to gather reliable information for a report. Make sure that they are using reputable sites to gather data, and employ parental controls to restrict access to sites that aren’t likely to lend much useful information to the assignment. If you are unsure about sites that are good resources, talk to your local librarian – they are excited to help. Remember, that it’s the combination of technology and teachers that will guide your student through the learning process! Which one do you think is most important?
3. Maintain Open Dialogues – the conversations that you have with your child, their teachers, and school administrators should extend well beyond ‘Open House’ night and Parent-Teacher Conferences. Just as you wouldn’t expect one conversation with a mechanic to ensure years of optimal vehicle performance, so too must your dialogues with the professionals who work with your teen be ongoing and reciprocal. When the warning signs for trouble start to appear, engage these professionals as resources to aid your student in getting back on the right road. Technology is great, but it’s no substitute for face-to-face consultations!
4. Know what Resources are Available – it may be that your student isn’t a natural at French, or that Algebra II is just eating their lunch everyday! That’s ok. They don’t have to be a natural and you don’t have to be an expert in order for them to succeed. Almost every school has tutoring resources that they can identify to help your teen succeed. Whether the solution is extra time with the teacher or a local volunteer group of college students, there is nearly always a resource available that you can help your student access in order to be successful. School doesn’t have to be stressful, and nobody has to go down difficult roads alone. Reach out to guidance counselors, teachers, librarians, and school administrators. All of these people have a stake in seeing your child succeed, and there are options to make that success a reality! You can also check out the Follett website for some great resources you can put to work today with all of your kids. Follett, a leading provider of education technology, services and print and digital content, is hooking you up with their #FallBackToSchool campaign, which is focused on how parents and children can prepare to head back to school. Check them out f
5. Be a Cheerleader – if the only conversations that you have with your teen are centered around their struggles, then high school is going to last forever. There will be challenging times, and most students just know that they are thinking, feeling, and experiencing things in a way that no person in the history of humanity has ever known. That’s ok – in fact, it’s pretty typical. At the end of the day, they need to feel like someone is in their corner and that someone is interested in hearing what they have to say. Being that sounding board and source of emotional support has advantages for you and for them! Parents who are engaged have kids who are more likely to finish school, delay sex, and report greater life satisfaction than those who don’t. So grab a pom pom and give ’em a cheer – or at least an ear!
It is in an exciting time for your teen and for you. Enjoy the homecoming games and the awkward social interactions. Encourage showers and buy an extra deodorant for the car so your teen can reapply on the way to school. Chaperon a dance or field trip and help with a fundraiser because these years aren’t going to last for very long at all. We have 4 years and ours will be off to college – while she will undoubtedly be home to do laundry and raid the fridge, these are the final years we are likely to all live together. Have fun and find the happy as you support their growth and celebrate their success!
Check out the Follett website for more great information on supporting your kids at every stage! There are some wonderful resources available for all families.
Is your student finished with high school? Congrats! Make sure that they get everything that they need to get a great start in college. If you missed anything during the move-in weekend, Family Weekend is coming and you can help them by making sure that they are equipped to succeed!
What tips do you have to help kids make smooth transitions in school?