Life changes require an adjustment or transition period. We tend to think of transition as a period reserved for a significant change like a move to a new city. Yet, we may overlook the shifts that take place for an incoming freshman starting high school. The pressure is on and the students feel it. Anticipate that your teen is going through similar stages of grief such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance before and throughout the first year of high school. While every teenager will have a unique response, all students can be taught resilience. To ensure their success as they navigate this new world, here are a few ways to support your student in the transition to high school:
Create a Supportive Environment
Parent involvement is essential as your student’s life becomes more complex. Studies indicate that physically and mentally being there for your teen will be factors that improve how they view and do school. Independence is healthy at this age, but remember your teen craves connection and still needs you.
Start with positive intentionality behind the energy, attitude, and messages you internally feel towards learning and school in order to be the role model your teen will follow. Allow yourself to listen to what your teen is learning in school without offering advice or just ask for fun stories from the day by carving out one-on-one meaningful time to spend time with each other. Fun dates can include getting coffee, watching your favorite show, or developing a bedtime routine that checks in on your teen’s friendships or music interests together. Finally, ensure that they are getting the recommended amount of sleep, nutrition, and hydration to stay on their A-game.
As a parent, your role is integral to building up your teen into a flourishing adult. Studies show that parents, who take an interest in different aspects of their teen’s life from schoolwork, their friend group, and participation in school activities, improve their students’ success transitioning into high school. Students want to do their best for themselves and their parents. Likewise, parents have the same desire. Persistence against challenges is what matters in the overall big picture. Give your teen the opportunity to struggle before coming to you. Positive statements that acknowledge, validate, or encourage your teen can minimize their overwhelm. Supportive communication allows your teen to feel safe and see their home environment as a space to open up comfortably.
Familiarity: School Tour
Proactive strategies to familiarize your teen to their new school gives them an advantage. Give plenty of time for their mind to process the place they will be in the next four years. Go on a school tour together or have students participate in any offered orientations put on by the school. This will aid with the uncontrollable factors that come with new changes. The more familiar they are, the more you are increasing their confidence and decreasing nerves to manage those first weeks of school. Read up on the transition activities available that provide information from course credits, school calendar, attendance, and grading policies. Finally, get an in-depth lens into the school culture and people through volunteering when you can at their school.
Explore and encourage risks
As a parent, you have an eye for your teen’s talents, interests, and strengths. Praise and encourage taking risks to join a club, try-out for a sport or volunteer with an organization that amplifies their unique attributes. Recognize the courage it takes to do something new and the fear that may come with expanding and changing friends.
Some teens will need more time to figure out clubs, organizations, and sports to be involved with. Connect with family friends that may have a high schooler to see if their teen can mentor your teen. Give space for your child to ask questions independently. Peer-to-peer is beneficial for you both.
It is vital to view high school as a coordinated team effort. Take the initiative to establish the main school contact to communicate with regularly. Lean towards this school contact instead. This will encourage your teen’s impression management skills while balancing parental control. As students are learning how to follow up and build rapport with their teachers, the point of contact should be able to keep parents in the loop and trust will build among parents and students to relieve school-related familial stress.
These simple steps will smooth out the bumpy roads of transition and you will be amazed at the transformation your teen goes through. Best wishes to you all for the new school year!