Parents’ Guide to Navigating the High School Transition

In the book “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” it states, “One day middle school will end and become high school and after that it just becomes life. All those things you think are important now won’t be anymore.” The transition between middle school and high school in most cases affects parents more than students. Tensions can arise between parents and children, as the new young adults strive to become independent and responsible, while being plagued by hormones and peer pressure. Parents now must balance the tight rope between staying active in their child’s day-to-day life, while giving them the space and the responsibility needed so they can independently achieve their goals. This is the last big journey parents entertain before their children venture out of the home to college or working life. Here are a few helpful parenting tips for staying involved and igniting a healthy dose of independence in your high school student.

Learn the ins and outs of high school.   

Most high schools offer a freshman orientation program. This program allows freshmen a time to get acquainted with their new environment and expectations. This is a great time for students to learn the essentials such as: how to use your new locker, finding your classes, locating the bathrooms, getting caught up with your friends and getting a chance to explore the new environment without crowds. Academically, over the summer a soon to be high school student should get a jump start on the new curriculum. Solicit information and comments from administrators, students and parents about your future teachers. This will help your child know their teachers’ individual expectations.  Last if your desire is to go to college keep focused on college requirements by meeting with your counselor on a regular basis.

Celebrate a child’s independence.  

A child getting a driver’s license is a big deal. Watching parents’ expressions as they leave the DMV (Driver Motor Vehicle) with their new licensed drivers can be very entertaining.  Some parents look scared to death, some look confident, some look like the end of the world has come and others look like it doesn’t matter at all.  High School students will experience thrilling freedoms, will grow into adulthood and will do most of this without their parents being present.  Therefore, it is important to celebrate these independent moments in your young adults’ life before these moments just become part of the monotony of life.

Get involved in extracurricular activities.  

High School means that there are expanded chances for students to get involved in extracurricular activities. There are many forms of extracurricular activities such as sports, clubs, governance, student newspaper, music, arts and drama.  These activities positively effect students with better grades and higher graduation rates. This is not to negate the social aspect of these activities.

Build in lead time

An Olympic athlete would never take a three-month hiatus from training and expect to perform at that same high level. Students need to be ready to start the school year sharp.  This means students need to train over the summer like they are running a marathon, by mastering previous year concepts, improving study habits and organizational skills, preparing for standardized tests (SAT/ ACT) and being prepared for the rigors a new school year will bring.

We’ve got your back.

Parents and students emotionally through the high school years, can feel like they are on a deserted island.  We’re serious, we’ve got your back.  You’re not alone.  You’ve got a whole team of teachers, counselors, parents, tutors and friends available to tap for parenting resources, support and transition tips you may not have thought of.   Don’t ever give up!  We won’t give up on you!

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