From Middle-to-High School: How Parents Can Help

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From Middle-to-High School: How Parents Can Help

The move to high school can be an exciting time for your child. They may be feeling as if they’ve outgrown middle school and are ready to move on. Or, they can be nervous and worried about being a high school freshman. Here are some ways to help your child make the adjustment and to thrive.

1) Emphasize learning and creating a lifelong learner. Hard as it is, focus on your student’s efforts not their grades. You’ll know whether the effort was put in and if they did their best, then congratulate them for doing just that.

2) Be sure your child is learning not just “doing” their homework. Even the best of students will react with surprise when they don’t make the grades they used to or do as well on tests or assignments. “I did the homework” is a common response. The reality is just doing the homework doesn’t cut it in high school. If they need help, get them help. And start with the teacher not expensive tutors. Help your student arrange a meeting with the teacher to go over what they’re missing and how they can better study for that class. Let the student do the talking; your job is to be their support in case they get tongue-tied or nervous. Your teaching self-advocacy and they’ll need to practice that starting now.

3) Focus on their strengths not weaknesses.There is a myth that a weakness can become a strength. Not so. Not ever. “You can neutralize a weakness but it will never be your dominant strength,” says Kevin Huie, of TopTEN Inc. So focus on how great they are in whatever subject they’re excelling including PE or their  sport or fine art. It may be the only thing keeping them engaged and connected to the school.

4) Engage in discussions with your child regularly. Ask them what their favorite subject or teacher is throughout the year? (It can change!) Ask questions: why is math so interesting to you? What are you reading in English? Don’t limit yourself to just academics though. If they are involved (and should be) in extra-curricular activities ask them how it’s going, or what they like about what they’re doing? And most importantly, try to refrain from telling them how you see it going and how they’re doing. Believe me, they know how they’re doing, especially the athletes. They have coaches that tell them all the time how much improvement they need so, adding your two cents worth on top of that would be akin to having your spouse reinforce all the things your boss said about what you need to improve upon.

5) Don’t worry. Or at least don’t let  your worry show through to them. Yes, easy to say; hard to do. Parents are natural worrywarts. I can attest to that as I too am a parent. Remember though it’s not about YOU. You already went through high school. Maybe you were a great student, maybe not. Your high school experience has almost no bearing on your student today. And while some things never change in the high school world (there are still cliques, the popular crowd, the rowdies, the athletes, the nerds) some things are hugely different for our kids, namely the stress, anxiety and pressure on them to be perfect and get good grades or else they won’t get into a good college! By the way, when did it change to “get good grades” from “make good grades” anyway? Mostly, try not to worry about the mistakes your kids will inevitably make. We learn from mistakes. And they’ll learn through theirs, if you let them. They need a soft landing spot at home for when they mess up so keep it all in perspective…for their sakes.

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