Given the context — one replete with adolescent hormones, uncertainty about the future, and the characteristic nervousness associated with a new school year — the transition from middle to high school may be the most stressful in your student’s young life.
Still, as a parent, you want to make his adjustment to ninth grade as seamless as possible. To do so, create a strategy with your freshman to tackle this exciting, albeit nerve-racking, transformation.
Follow these steps to a September success:
1. Take a trial run.
For many first year high school students, the prospect of navigating a new space is a harrowing one. Getting to class on-time is a priority, but how can your child be confident he can do so when he doesn’t know where his locker is located or which floor belongs to the math department?
Although many schools have freshman orientation to help students get comfortable in the new school, it may be helpful to have a second walkthrough. This way, your teen will be more confident and more at ease on the first day.
2. Communicate with other adults.
Some students will arrive in ninth grade feeling like the school is theirs. For others, the transition may not be so smooth. If you’re concerned about your child’s ability to adjust, connect with his guidance counselor and teachers. Preemptively contacting the adults involved in your teen’s education will only provide more care and attention to help your student succeed in the high school setting.
3. Encourage involvement.
High schools offer a litany of extracurricular activities, sports, and clubs that create opportunities to meet new people and to take part in novel experiences. Moreover, getting involved will help your child feel a part of the school culture. Urge him to take that often stressful first step of attending a meeting that interests him. He may thank you later.
4. Promote time management.
With an increased workload and a quickened pace of learning, many students struggle to keep up. Coach your son on how to prioritize assignments and activities, so Sunday nights don’t turn into a fight to get everything done. Buying an agenda or planner is an easy first step to keeping your teen organized. Just don’t forget to guide him into the habit of checking it again once he gets home.
5. Avoid discussing college.
The first few months of high school are indeed stressful. Academics are, of course, a top priority, but so, too, are building and maintaining friend relationships and finding a niche in a new place. Heaping on the pressure of thinking about college may not prove as productive as you may think. Instead, help your teen focus on what he can do to be successful now, what good habits to continue, and what constructive changes to make. Doing so will open more doors when graduation time rolls around.
6. Focus on health.
So much focus is placed on grade point average and starring in the school play that often the most important aspect of your child’s life falls by the wayside — his health. Ensuring that your high schooler is getting enough sleep, eating well, and managing stress will only make him more productive and happier in the long run. Because, after all, if he isn’t healthy and happy, what does anything else matter?