For your teen, transitioning from middle school to high school is one of the biggest changes of their life thus far. For you, it can be a huge adjustment. From teacher involvement, class scheduling and peer engagement, a lot of things change as your teenager gets older and enters high school. We’re highlighting the top three changes we see in students to help you prepare for the upcoming school year. This will benefit your teen and you during this transition period that can, at times, be stressful! Below are the top 3 changes and how to handle them.

Difference #1: Faster pace (more classes + more content to learn = more homework)

Suggestions on how to handle this:

  1. Have a homework routine.
    This removes the thinking and arguing and “when should I start?” because that decision has already been made. While routines must be flexible to accommodate soccer practice on Tuesday and volunteer work on Thursday, knowing in general when and where you, or your child, will do homework literally removes half the battle.
  2. Have a battle plan
    Overwhelmed students look at a mountain of homework and think “insurmountable.” But parents can look at it with an outsider’s perspective and help them plan. Put in an extra hour Monday when you don’t have soccer. Prepare for the bio test on Friday a little at a time each evening so Thursday doesn’t loom as a scary study night (consistency and repetition will also help lock the information in your brain). Knowing what the week will look like helps your teen keep calm and carry on.
  3. Don’t be afraid to call in reserves
    You can’t outsource the “battle” but you can outsource the help! We find that kids just do better having someone other than mom or dad to help them—and sometimes even parents with the best of intentions aren’t equipped to wrestle with complicated physics problem
  4. Celebrate victories—and know when to surrender
    Make sure to encourage your teenager when they finally turn all their assignments in on time or ace that test in the subject they’ve had trouble with. Knowing that you’re noticing and appreciating with go a long way for future projects or struggles your teen might have.

Difference # 2. More independence expected by teachers – when you have a question, it is expected that you ask the question rather than a parent asking.

Suggestions on how to handle this:

    1. Encourage your teen to see their teachers as people outside of school. Find out about their interests and their families so they seem more approachable.
    2. If your teen is uncomfortable asking for help in person, have them write an email.
    3. Ask for help or attend a teacher led study session early in the school year. When your teen goes early in the year and sees that it’s not so bad, they will be more likely to go in the future.

Difference # 3. Many more social demands (more opportunities for involvement, more peer comparison, peer pressure, etc)

Suggestions on how to handle this:

  1. Encourage your teen to surround themselves with people who they admire and strive to be like. Give them a heads up that their friend groups may change over time and that’s okay.
  2. Explain the short term and long term benefits of being involved in a group at school. There are other activities in addition to sports. If you don’t see something that appeals to you, start your own club.
  3. Discourage your teen from comparing themselves to others. Everyone has their own journey. Don’t forget that what we see on social media is only the highlight reel of everyone’s life.

Bottom line? Encourage your teen. Support your teen. And, most importantly, respect your teen and understand that this is a complicated and very full time for a teenager to process. Covering these three bases will only make this transition smoother and more manageable for you both.