High School Transitions
Arrival to high school can erupt many emotions for a young teenager: an apprehension at being the new kid on the block; exhilaration on achieving that long awaited destination; or just basic confusion on how it all fits together. High school transitions prompt a quick reflection on those previous grade school and middle or jr high transitions and demand a new plan of attack.
For many teens the high school landscape may seem too vast to take hold of initially, the first few weeks of exploration include getting accustomed to hallway traffic and detours, personally contrasting educational philosophies of different teachers, understanding locker combination dilemmas, lunchroom inclusion or exclusion, and just trying to fit in can make high school an exhausting task - not to mention the early AM start.
It is important for a parent to hang in there with the teen during this transition period and be a guide by asking what other opportunities exist at school. Although the teen may have put up a wall of "I can figure it out." or "You don't understand what HS is you are too old," those comments are frustration speaking. The reality is that many first year "quiet and/or belligerent" high schoolers are afraid and instead of reaching out they close up and miss hearing announcements or reading emails that indicate days and times to sign up for cheerleading, band, sports, arts, debate clubs and the like. This self-imposed fear may set a teen off on a lonely track and may make the first experience of HS an unsuccessful one.
Parents certainly hope their children become independent, ask questions, seek out help, and get involved to share personal gifts and talents yet, some children need that extra boost to make it happen. High school goes by very quickly and it is important in the social/emotional and academic development of your child that a positive experience happen early, teens are going through so many changes it is best to help them create a HS environment where they feel safe and energized to thrive.
5 Tips for Parents of High Schoolers
- Most school districts post school calendars and activities on-line for the general public while other districts email and post things on student and parent portals. Stay aware of what is available to your child - and communicate options.
- If you know that the child has mentioned an interest in something. Ask when tryouts are and together work out a plan of transportation to make it happen.
- Follow-up with the teen on their interests, successes or challenges at school and offer assistance; schedule a weekend breakfast together, discuss options to get involved, create an action plan with the child.
- Some teens decide to get involved in everything while others struggle to join one organization. Show Up and support your child if your schedule permits - if it doesn't then make time to talk about what your child is up to.
- High school transitions can be both difficult and non-eventful it depends on the variables in the HS environment, the self-esteem and self-efficacy the child has acquired, and the support the teen has and is able to accept. Pay attention and Do not give up on your child.
Education is a life long journey and can help a person achieve dreams, realize potential, and develop strategies to live a life filled with meaning and purpose. The happiness parents wish for their children is not elusive, it is internal and if young people feel supported, learn how to meet challenges with perseverance, and understand that difficult times are merely steps of growth - well the rest will take care of itself eventually.
It's the first month of HS do you know what positive opportunities are awaiting your child at school? Find out together!