Over the next several months, many parents will experience our children’s transformation from “middle-schooler” to high school student. This reality hit me right smack in the face during a recent visit to the local high school – that enormous place with the football stadium, endless buildings, and gigantic parking lot that my oldest son will be attending as a 9th grader in just a couple of short months.
It wasn’t a cold or unpleasant place; actually it was quite the opposite. Everyone there was very friendly as I made my way through the maze of offices looking for the right person to turn in paperwork to. I had athletic forms to submit, fees to pay for summer sports camps, and also some curiosity about what the offices looked like and how the staff would be. Everything was great – great until I felt like I was starting high school! I didn’t know the lay of the land, new faces everywhere, and the whole place in general dwarfed the size of the middle school that I have become so accustomed to over the past few years. This immediately made me think of my son and many of my friend’s kids that are headed to high school. Will they be overwhelmed? How will they interact with “kids” (seniors), many of whom are already 18 years old and classified as “adults.”
This experience made me realize that I have to be ready for this change just as much if not more so than my son in order to be there for support and guidance during the switch to high school. I am pretty confident that my child, and yours, will have a much smoother transition becoming a high school student than mom will becoming a high school parent. All that said, this transitional period is a time to love and support our children unconditionally – the pressure and stresses during high school years are prevalent. It’s just a matter of putting out those fires when they start smoldering so you, and most importantly your child, have a great high school experience.
Here are three things that I believe every parent should consider as the transition to high school begins.
- Stay involved but your approach of “staying in the mix” has to evolve. I remember the days that I used go into the classrooms and help out the teacher – my boys loved seeing me there. Today they would be a little red in the face if I would walk into their classrooms and help out. Even though a teenager is entering high school it is still very important to stay connected to the school. Getting to know the current PTA, joining parent committees, participating in booster clubs, etc. I know that I will not be directly in the classroom but at times I will still be on campus and will be able to keep up to date with things going on at school
- Learning to let go and letting them learn challenges on their own– I have to admit this is one of the toughest ones for me. As much as I want to still hold my teenager’s hand through everything, one has to learn to let go and let the teen learn how to maneuver his way around. They may not do it exactly how you want them to, but as long as they learn and grow as they make important choices is the key.
- Listening instead of speaking at your teen– I have focused so much on communication with my teenager and there has been improvement. So now that I have drilled that into him I really need to just listen to what he is saying and not interrupt. In the past I’d jump in and drill him with a ton of questions but I again need to sit back and process what he is saying and really listen to him – does he need help, guidance, advice? Or is he perhaps just venting and needing someone to talk to?
What are some things you are doing to prepare for the transition?