If your son or daughter graduated from 8th grade a couple of months ago, you’re ready to jump into being the parent of a high schooler! This transition can be just as hard on you as it is for your child, or even more so; it can be hard to realize that your baby is growing up! Just a few short years from adulthood, your young teenager is on the brink of some exciting opportunities, and will be stretching those wings in an attempt to fly, often away from you. Here are some things you need to know in order to help your child acclimate to the new rigors of high school life:
- Prepare your child for an increased workload. In addition to homework, which may grow exponentially over the next few years, he’ll be involving himself in activities, wanting to go out with friends, and may even have a part-time job. If your child has been disorganized with schoolwork up to this point, it’s time for him to break some bad habits. Take him shopping for some tools to keep himself and his clutter under control, such as bookcases, a calendar, and desktop organizers.
- Remember that your job is to step out of the role of manager when it comes to your teenager. She should be getting herself up for school in the morning, and managing her own time in regards to getting herself ready for the day. She also needs to take over the responsibility of making sure that she’s getting all of her work done and handed in on time. If you’ve been checking to see that she’s been doing her homework every night until now, it’s time to ease up. Letting her find out on her own how important her homework is to her grade will help her establish good habits before she starts college or a job.
- Find out whether your child’s high school has a website where parents can check in with teachers. Our local high school allows parents to keep up with their children’s grades and assignments from the Internet, which gives you a non-invasive way to keep tabs on how your student is doing without looking like you’re nagging. If you see grades drop or assignments not being turned in, you can talk to your child about it and nip it in the bud.
- Make rules, but keep them flexible. Your child will be going through a huge growth spurt in his social and emotional development over the next few years. While you’ll want to keep a close eye on your freshman, by senior year, he’ll be handling his own affairs and will need to make grown-up decisions. Don’t be afraid to talk to other parents: Find out what his friends’ rules are. You might be surprised at how strict other parents can be, despite your child’s claims that everyone else is cooler than you are!
- Keep the lines of communication open. Remember that your child still needs guidance, whether it’s with schoolwork, social issues, time management and sensitive topics like drinking, drugs and sex. Let her know that she can come and talk to you about anything, and that you’re willing to help however you can.
These next four years are a rite of passage as your young teenager prepares for adulthood. Remember that your ultimate goal is to raise your child into a capable adult, so hold the reins loosely as you spend these next years preparing him to leave the nest. Good luck!