Guide to Your Teen’s Freshman Year of High School

By Huntington Learning Center

Guide to Your Teen’s Freshman Year of High School

Middle school is officially behind you and your teen. You both have been preparing for this transition to high school for a while now, but here’s a quick guide to help your teen make it great:

  • Talk about the change. There’s no question: high school is vastly different than middle school. You’ve probably been having conversations throughout eighth grade, but this summer is a good time to remind your teen that it’s OK to be uncomfortable for a little while. The adjustment period is something every high school freshman goes through, so your teen isn’t alone.
  • Get organized. This is a tip for both you and your teen. Your teen must work on organizational skills, particularly if this was a weakness in middle school. He or she needs a reliable system for keeping track of homework, assignments, and upcoming test and project due dates, and a good filing system for paperwork. For your part, hang a family calendar in a central location. Designate a study space in the home and stock it with supplies. Set up inboxes near your home’s entry point where your teen can drop important papers for you and graded assignments or other papers that he doesn’t need to carry to and from school.
  • Go over time management essentials. High school academics are more rigorous, so it’s important that your teen learns how to be as efficient as possible with his or her time. Especially if your teen plans to get involved with sports or extracurricular activities, she will need to schedule her time diligently and become adept at avoiding distractions. Learning to prioritize homework each night is vital. Learn more about developing a foolproof time management system.
  • Talk about self-advocacy. Remind your teen that high school teachers expect independence. Your teen, not you, should speak up for himself or herself in high school. You can support from the sidelines, but if your teen feels he’s falling behind in class, it is up to him to reach out to the teacher to find ways to catch up and clarify any confusing areas. Bottom line: if your teen needs help or advice, he should ask for it.
  • Encourage relationship-building with teachers, staff and the guidance counselor. It is essential that your teen establishes good relationships with teachers from the start of high school. Your teen should pay attention in class, ask questions and visit the teacher whenever she needs help. Regular visits with the guidance counselor and other support staff are also important to keep your teen on track toward graduation and do everything required for college.
  • Make sure your teen gets enough sleep. Many high schools start classes earlier than middle school, and the schedule adjustment can be painful for teens. Insist that your teen make sleep a priority. He or she will feel more alert overall and focus better in school and when doing homework.
  • Discuss your teen’s goals. Maybe it feels early to bring up college, but your teen’s performance in high school matters—and will have a big impact on where she can go to college. Start talking about the future. What subjects does your teen like in school? Does she have any careers or college majors in mind? Plant the seeds now by having these conversations, which will get your teen planning ahead in her mind as well. 

High school brings many changes to students’ lives, and making the transition from middle to high school can be both nerve-racking and exciting. Open the lines of communication with your teen this summer and discuss some of the above. You will find that doing so mentally prepares both you and your teen for the impending change.


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