Guiding Your Freshman in High School Toward Success

If your teen is about to begin high school, you may be concerned about the transition. High school, after all, brings higher academic expectations and is a significant time of change for most students as they grow into young adults. As a parent, how can you help your teen survive and thrive his or her first year of high school? Here are several tips:

Get to know the support staff

Establishing good advocacy relationships at the outset of high school will be important during the next four years. Encourage your teen to stop into the guidance counselor's office early on. If he or she feels a connection with a teacher, seek that teacher's advice and help. Your support will certainly be important throughout high school, but your teen should establish a team of individuals to whom he or she can turn throughout the high school years.

Don't wait for help

High school isn't easy for everyone-be sure your teen understands the long-term consequences of falling behind and poor grades, and knows that he or she can and should ask for help. While high school teachers expect students to be more independent, don't let your teen wrongly assume he or she shouldn't seek assistance during tough times. He or she should visit the teacher outside of class and get outside tutoring help if needed. Let your teen know you are there to help when he or she feels overwhelmed by a difficult subject or issue.

Get organized

If your teen isn't a naturally organized person, now is the time to improve those organizational skills. Help your teen set up a reliable system of keeping track of papers that come home. If he or she has a desk, teach him or her to keep it tidy and consistently put things in their proper place so that homework time is productive, not frazzled. Make sure your teen establishes a study routine and sticks to it.

Work on time management

Perhaps your teen has grown used you helping manage his or her time, giving frequent reminders about outside commitments, homework and project due dates, and the like. Let your teen take the reins now. Teach him or her to make use of a planner or calendar to stay on top of homework assignments, upcoming tests and other obligations-and plan ahead properly. Guide him or her on this early in high school, but let him or her take responsibility quickly.

Remind your teen to prioritize

High school is a new and exciting social scene for your teen, and there's no doubt he or she will want to explore it. This is fine, but remind your teen that school comes first. Hanging out with friends should not take precedent over homework, but with effective time management, your teen can have a social life and keep up with school. Teach him or her about prioritizing to-dos (what assignments should he or she tackle first?) and setting goals and rewarding him or herself for meeting them (Facebook time comes after math homework is done).

High school is sure to bring many changes to your teen's life-and your entire household-but with your support and encouragement, your teen can make his or her freshman year a great one and lay a positive foundation for the next four years.