As a junior in high school, I know how hard transitioning to all of the challenges of high school can be. From quizzes to social events there is always something on my agenda, so I made this list of ways for parents to get involved and help make things a little easier for their new high school freshman.
By: Lauren Ofman
1. Give them independence.
For teenagers, starting high school is associated with gaining more independence and having more responsibility. It may be difficult to “let go of your child” in a way, but trust me, this is one of the best things for your child’s high school career. Looking back as a junior, becoming more independent helped me feel more comfortable with making my own decisions and taking charge of my own life. Having the freedom to make your own decisions and have control over your life is an amazing learning experience and helps prepare you for the future.
If your son or daughter has shown good judgment in making friends and social decisions, think about letting them make their own plans without trying to be informed of every little detail.
2. Set a household standard.
As much as you may want for your child to have fun in high school, you have to make sure that they are still focusing on school. Setting a household standard for your freshman and for your other children in some cases is the best way to make sure your child is trying hard in school.
Once your child gets to know their teachers and is getting used to the stress of high school, ask them how well they think they can do in those classes and use that response to set a standard for them. However, if you feel like your child is not in a place where they will not set a reasonable standard for themselves, then you can intervene and set a standard for them by letting them know what your expectations are for the year, whether that’s “all Bs” or “the same grades or better than last year.”
3. Be their chauffeur.
Starting high school can be very difficult socially for a high school freshman. I remember that there were a lot of social events in the first few months of high school and since freshman can’t drive yet, they will rely on you to help them get places. Making a place for oneself socially makes high school so much easier and you as a parent and chauffeur are a crucial part of that. Also, knowing that a parent would pick me up if I were in an uncomfortable social situation was very comforting and allowed me to branch out.
4. Create a balance between school and friends.
This was one of the best things that my parents did for me when I began high school. There are many ways to create this balance. For me, my parents only let me hang out with friends on weekends and I focused on school work during the week. Although it was hard to adjust at first, in retrospect, I definitely believe that it was beneficial to my school career because it gave me a lot of time to study.
5. Show interest in their life.
Although independence is very important, showing interest in your child’s life helps them feel supported. Asking them questions about their day will show that you care and want to be involved in their life, which is very comforting for a new high schooler.
There is a difference between prying into their personal life and nagging about grades rather than creating a personal friendship and asking questions about their life. Asking questions as simple as how they feel about the presidential election or what music they are currently listening to shows that you want to learn about their personal life and not just their academics.
6. Test your child on school work.
It is much easier to avoid stress when you study with someone else. Helping your child study by testing them on new material not only helps them absorb the information better, but it gives them a clearer sense of whether or not they know the material enough to perform well on a test.
Being willing to offer this help at the last-minute, which is when your child will probably need it, is a great way to show you are invested in their success.
7. Create a good study environment.
I am going to stress this point because it took me very long to get this right. Having a special place or environment where your child can study is vital in high school. For me, my desk is the perfect place because it is clean and it faces away from all things that could distract me. I also know people who depend on the library as a quiet space to really focus and get work done. This varies for everyone but it is definitely important to figure out what works best for your child sooner rather than later.
8. Read with your child.
As weird as it may seem, involving yourself in your child’s academic life can be very beneficial. I’m sure that your child will have to read a novel at one point, so why not read it with them? One of the best ways to absorb what you have learned is to have a discussion about it. When I was reading a difficult novel in school, my mom read the book with me and we would talk about every chapter after we read them. This also helps you and your child bond.
If you don’t think that this method is a good fit for you, then another great option is to brush up on the main ideas of the book and have a discussion about it with your child.
9. Be a host.
If both you and you child are comfortable with the idea, hosting others, especially school friends, is a really productive way for your child to make friends. It takes away the anxiety of going somewhere new and allows your child to bond with new people in the place where they feel most comfortable. Still to this day, I prefer hosting over going to someone’s house because I feel more comfortable at home. Also, your child is guaranteed to be invited to an event if it is at their own house.
Being there when new friends arrive and helping them feel comfortable in your home (maybe by being clear on what to call you or welcoming them to help themselves to the fridge) is a great way to make sure everyone feels comfortable — then, stay out of the way!
10. Encourage them to join clubs or teams.
This is such a cliché thing to say to someone entering high school, but it is very good advice if you follow through with it. Because your child can choose whichever club or team interests them, getting involved is a great way to meet people with similar interests. I have met some of my best friends from clubs and sports teams. Also, both of these activities look good on college applications, so they can look impressive and do something they love at the same time.
Even if your child isn’t really interested in any clubs at their school, signing up for something is a good way to learn more about what might interest them and have some structured social activities, which can help them all through school.
I know every family is different, but I hope these tips might give you some idea of what could work for you and your high school freshman!