How To Help Your Child Make The Transition To High School
Transitioning from middle school to high school is a big change for students. Moving to a new school with new classes, new classmates, and new teachers can all be overwhelming for your teenager (and for you as a parent!)
It’s completely normal for students to feel nervous about starting high school. Many students have at least some difficulty adjusting to the new world of high school.
The good news: starting high school doesn’t have to be scary!
To help, we’ve gathered these tips so you and your child can make his or her transition to high school an easier one.
Read on to find out how you can prepare your child (and yourself) for the high school years.
How To Prepare Your Child For High School
The Year Before
- Focus on building good study habits
- Understand your child’s learning pace
- Encourage independent learning
- Talk about how your child feels
- Take a tour of the school
- Attend orientation
- Buy proper school supplies
- Brush up on past material
- Set goals for the year
- Talk about classes
- Routinely evaluate progress
- Continue improving your child’s study habits
- Get involved in extracurriculars
It’s never too early to start preparing for success in future grades. Help your child practice good study habits such as organization and time management before he or she enters high school. By starting early, your child will have stronger learning skills that will help as he or she takes on a more challenging workload in high school.
When choosing high school classes, students will need to decide whether they sign up for academic-level or applied-level classes. Knowing your child’s learning pace throughout middle school will help you choose the best fit so he or she is able to keep up with the material.
As your child nears the end of his or her middle school years, encourage more self-directed learning. Allow your child to take responsibility of scheduling time for homework and assignments and keeping track of deadlines.
At the beginning, have daily check-ins with your child to help keep him or her on track. As your child gets the hang of the process, transition to weekly check-ins. This will help prepare your child to take on more responsibility in high school.
Over The Summer Break
Talk to your child about starting high school. Most students feel a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Ask your child about his or her concerns and talk about what you can do to reduce them.
Is he or she worried about getting lost? Visit the school beforehand. Is he or she concerned about the workload? Create an agenda or calendar your family will use to plan his or her time. Talking about these worries now can help your child make a plan to overcome them early, rather than being overwhelmed with them once school starts.
Before school starts in September, take advantage of any chances you have to visit the school for a tour. Many schools have open house days where new students can explore the school and learn where key locations are (like homeroom, the library, the counseling office, and the cafeteria). This will give your child a chance to become more familiar with the school so he or she isn’t completely overwhelmed on the first day.
Many schools provide orientation days before school actually starts. Attending orientation gives your child a chance to pick up his or her class schedule, meet teachers, and learn what to expect from high school. It’s also a great way to meet some of your child’s new classmates so he or she will see a few friendly faces on the first day of classes.
Make sure your child is prepared to head back to school with the right supplies. As your child moves to high school, the amount and level of work increases—so it’s important he or she has the tools to take on the challenge! Check out our list of school supplies for high school students so your child can get off to a strong start.
Use your child’s time off during the summer break to refresh material he or she learned over the previous year. This will help make sure your child doesn’t lose the skills he or she has already learned, so the transition back to class in September an easier one. Just taking 30 minutes each day to read a book can help keep student’s brains in learning mode over the summer.
Sit down with your child and set goals to achieve during the year. Set both academic-focused goals as well as social goals. These can be big or small, such as maintaining a certain grade in a subject or finding friends that share his or her interests by joining a club. This will help give your child a clear path to getting the most out of his or her high school experience.
Throughout The Year
Once your child has officially started high school, have regular talks about how classes are going. Ask your child which classes are his or her favourite and which ones he or she doesn’t like (and why). This will help give you an idea of areas your child may be struggling or may need some extra help.
It can be tough to get your teen to share what’s going on at school. Progress reports and report cards are another way you can find out how your child is handling his or her classes.
Keep an eye out for slipping grades—it’s normal to see grades fall a bit while students adjust to a more challenging workload. If your child’s grades are quickly and continually falling, he or she may need some extra help to get on track.
The transition to high school doesn’t end after the first day, week, or month. A successful first year of high school takes ongoing work and practice. Help your child continue to improve his or her study skills, like note taking, organization, and time management. These skills will help your child as he or she progresses through high school and work becomes more challenging.
High school is when many students learn what they are most interested in. Encourage your child to sign up for extracurricular clubs or teams and explore different interests. This will help your child start planning which classes he or she wants to take in upcoming years (and even get started thinking about what post-secondary path your child wants to take).