High School

Helping Your Child Through the Transition to High School

Starting high school is a milestone for kids, and one that's filled with as much fear as anticipation. Your middle school-age child has already started to assert independence by pulling away for you, so you may be unaware of how anxious they are about making this change – but it's an enormously stressful time for a kid, and they need your support as much as ever. As tempting as it may be to just pat them on the head and assure them that everything will be fine, the raw truth is that high school can be an unpleasant place for many teens, and how they adapt to the emotional, psychological and social pressures can affect their academic performance.

Freshmen in high school are facing a huge plummet on the social ladder, from experienced older kids at their old school to new, young, out-of-their-depth students in high school. Just the change in size of the schools may create a kind of culture shock, with your former middle-schooler going from small campus to a larger high school that draws students from many different schools. With more students, larger classes and teachers less able to give individual instruction, and your child may soon find that they're scholastically adrift.

Helping your Child Succeed

Even if your young teen is keeping you at arm’s length emotionally, it’s important that you communicate with your child in as open a fashion while they’re transitioning to high school. Although your child is becoming independent, she needs support from you as a parent. This can be hard sometimes parents feel that their children don't want them to take such a strong interest in their lives, so they back off entirely – but that’s a mistake. Kids may be embarrassed to be seen shopping with their parents or to have them come on school trips, but they still crave support and interest from their parents.

Parental involvement can take a number of forms at home. There are plenty of ways to spend time with your child while they adapt to high school. Share activities that you both enjoy, and do what you can to get to know her friends. Encourage your child to invite friends over for dinner, or to watch a movie. Make conversation with your child’s friends about their interests – this will send the message to your child that you care about their life.

By understanding the stressful nature of making the transition to high school with all of its new academic and social challenges, you can be there for your teen as she navigates the waters of her new situation. By showing an interest in all aspects of her new environment – friends, classes, homework and teachers – you’ll help your teen to have a successful high school experience.

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