Transitioning to High School
Entering high school is a significant milestone in your adolescent child’s life. It can feel overwhelming and exhilarating for students and parents. The transition should be viewed as a process, and not a singular event. Open communication, mutual respect and trust between you and your child are critical to helping you both face and overcome the emotional, social and academic challenges ahead. The lessons learned in high school will provide a foundation to helping your child to live independently.
It’s never too early to start planning and to set aims and expectations for the next four years. Before the beginning of high school, talk to your child about after-graduation plans. Does your child plan to pursue a higher education or join the Armed Forces? Even if they are unsure, these plans require good grades. Earning high marks from the beginning is critical to helping your child create a foundation for success and a strong grade point average.
The new demands of high school require parents to value the importance of organization and offer ongoing praise to ensure their child is developing both academically and personally into adulthood.
As a parent, find out about and stay on top of important school events such as open houses, parent-teacher conferences, and special activities your child is involved in such as a school play or sporting event. Add them to your calendar so that conflicts do not arise. These events are great ways for even the busiest parents to stay connected to their children’s high school experience. Show your child that you are scheduling these events into your life. This sends a message that you want to stay connected and share the journey through high school.
High school is an important time for your child to develop leadership and team-building skills. Encourage your child to learn about the clubs, sports teams and activities available and determine which new areas he or she wants to explore. This is the time to try a variety of activities, but coach your child to avoid bouncing around too much or trying too many clubs simultaneously. Encourage your child to give a new sport or musical instrument time to develop his or her skills, it is important to learn to not quit if something is not easily grasped.
Remember, high school is when your child can venture out and try new things. It might not be a sport or activity you’ve tried or that interests you, but keep praising and motivating your child as he or she develops personal interests.
Some students may get involved in sports or special groups, while others will start a part-time job. It is wise for parents to monitor how much time is dedicated to these endeavors. For those students starting a job for the first time, it is a good idea to limit the number of work hours each week and encourage most work to be scheduled on the weekends. Students who head straight to work after school and work all evening may not be getting adequate time to study for tests or complete homework assignments. If your child’s grades begin to suffer after starting a job, talk about cutting back on hours. Having a job and earning income is an important responsibility and should be encouraged, but not at the expense of school or extracurricular activities.
Keeping up with school, a job and an active social life require both commitment and time. It is important to embrace the new possibilities and challenges your children experience while making sure you steer them toward the most productive path. At the end of the day, supportive parents are the backbone of any successful high school student. Talk with your child frequently to help him or her prioritize and spend their time most productively. Investing in time with your child now, as they are in a critical development stage, will set the tone for a smooth and positive transition into high school and through adulthood.