Ten Tips for Getting Your Teen Ready for High School

This is John.  He’s my baby, and he’ll be starting high school next month – YIKES!

— 1 —

Invest in a study skills class. Earlier this month John attended a study skills / test-taking class.  I suspect once school starts I will find this was the best money I’ve ever spent.  It was much more individualized than I expected, teaching each student how to play to their strengths and find a way around their weaknesses.  Simply knowing that John is an auditory learner with very low test anxiety will be a huge help with his Advanced Program-heavy coarse load this Fall.

— 2 —

Maximize your teen’s sleep time. With their busy schedules most teens are sleep-deprived for at least a portion of the year.  Identify those high-risk times and try to slim their schedule as much as possible.  Then assure they have good sheets and a comfortable mattress and pillows.  Believe it or not, teens do notice the difference when they sleep on high thread count sheets and when they select their own pillows.

These are my personal favorites – they never get lumpy!

— 3 —

Plan lunches together. I have my fingers crossed that John will like the cafeteria food at his new high school, but if not, or if lines are too long to give students time to actually eat (a common problem) then we will have some tasty, healthy brown-bag options.

— 4 —

Friends are important – old ones and new. This is especially important if your teen will be switching from private to public school or attending a magnet school – they may not have any old friends attending their new school.  Take the time to get the old gang together for a movie or a sleepover.  But make an effort to help your teen find some potential friends at the new school, as well.  This is one of the reasons I love marching band.  John will be spending eight to twelve hours a day every day with one hundred kids from his new school from now until school starts.  There’s really no way he can help making friends.

— 5 —

Find a physical outlet for stress. Again, one of the reasons I love marching band.  Doing something physical, working up a sweat, coming home exhausted – these are coping mechanisms your teen can use throughout their life.  It doesn’t matter if they play a team sport or an individual one – just get them out there and moving.

— 6 —

Remember how crucial your “look” was as a teen?  That hasn’t changed.  This can be particularly tough for teens moving from schools where uniforms were required to schools with more lax dress codes. This is another area where “boy moms” like me get lucky – the rules are pretty easy to comply with.  The dress code rules for girls, on the other hand, go on for page after page until they make Obamacare seem simple. And on top of the official rules there’s all the “what’s cool and what’s not” stuff that no parent actually understands.  Shopping together, while painful and frustrating, is the only sure-fire solution 🙁

— 7 —

Start the year with a contract.  John and I did this for the first time last year.  His contract included household responsibilities and academic expectations.  This year we will expand it to cover other behavioral expectations.  With every extra freedom comes additional responsibility.

— 8 —

Stock up on school supplies, even if you don’t have a detailed list. I was thrilled when I no longer had to scour the city for specific school supplies once Aaron started high school, and I grossly underestimated what he’d need that year.  Again, shop together so you don’t end up buying things they refuse to use, and stock up on everything while it’s on sale.

— 9 —

If your teen doesn’t already keep their own schedule it’s time to start. Yes, it is easier to do it yourself and tell them when they have to be somewhere.  But sooner or later (unless you’re planning on moving unto the college dorm) your teen will have to keep track of their own convoluted schedule.  They might as well learn while they’re at home and you have a back-up calendar.  Try calendars online, on their phones, on their computers, and the old-fashioned on-the-wall version.  Only your teen knows what will work for them!

— 10 —
Help them keep perspective and maintain balance in their lives. Some difficult decisions are going to need to be made during the high school years.  There will be conflicts between extra-curricular activities that can’t be resolved.  A part-time job may make them more financially responsible, but can they handle the pressure academically?  Most importantly, teens need to know that failing a test, losing a job, or not making a team isn’t the end of the world.  Make sure your teen knows that their family and their faith will always be there for them – in good times and bad.

What are your best tips for teens entering high school?  And for their parents?

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One thought on “Ten Tips for Getting Your Teen Ready for High School”

  1. First, Angie – you always have the best suggestions! Truly. Second, I can’t believe how grown up John is. What a great son you have (ok, two of them.) my suggestion is for parents: you may feel like you are being run mad with all the activities, but make the effort to be at every performance or game or competition your child is involved in. High school years go by at the speed of light. From the first day of Freshman year to graduation seems to take only 18 months, and then they are gone.

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