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Preparing Your Child for High School

Starting high school is an exciting event, but one that can also cause some stress and anxiety for both parents and teens. Just like the transition from elementary to middle school, they go from being the oldest kids in the school, familiar and comfortable with the daily routine, back to newcomers trying to navigate a new school and new social situations. Try these tips to help make the transition to high school go smoothly for you and your teen.

Talk to your teen. Find out how your teen feels about high school. She likely has both fear and expectations. Let her know that she can come to you. Share some of your own experiences (both positive and negative) with her, and see if you can get an older sibling, cousin, or family friend to talk to her, as well.

Get yourselves oriented. Make sure your teen attends orientation if the high school has one. The school will also likely have a parents’ night or parents’ orientation before or shortly after the school year begins. Your teen may discourage you from attending, but it is important for you to learn what to expect during his high school years. It is also a good opportunity to meet with teachers and other school administrators as well as other parents.

Don't forget about after school. Before school starts, talk with your teen about what her daily schedule will be like, what classes she will be taking, and how she will manage her time. Discuss about any extracurricular activities she might like to participate in. It is important for you know her after school plans and set some limits on these, including where she is, whom she is with, and how she is transported, whether on the school bus, using public transportation, or getting a ride.

Set some limits. High school is a time when teens test their limits and assert their independence. However, it is important that you uphold the house rules and remind your teen that you are still the parent. For example, he may want to decide when to do his homework or when to go to bed, and may start spending more time on the computer or phone. While it is ok for you to loosen up on some things and let him make some of these decisions, make sure your teen knows that he still has to do his chores, eat dinner with the family, and have limited computer, TV, and phone time. Discuss and set these rules together with your teen before school starts to avoid arguments.

Keep yourself in the loop. Plan to spend at least 15 minutes each day touching base with your teen and letting her know you are available to talk or listen if she needs you. High school is a big step, but it doesn't have to be scary. Be sure that your teen knows that she can talk with you about any issues that may arise. Be ready to talk about difficult topics like sex, alcohol and smoking. Your teen’s teachers or the school guidance counselor might have some tips for you on how to have these conversations if the need arises.

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