Sweaty palms. Anxiety. Panic. Confusion. Just a few of the emotions both parents & students feel on the first day of school. Combine it with the hormones of a budding adolescent, and you’ve got the perfect conditions for a potentially challenging start to your child’s high school experience.
Luckily, we’re here to help.
Starting high school can be a very daunting experience. For many children, it’s the first time that they have been given their first real taste of freedom. For many parents, it’s their first experience with really “letting go”, allowing children to take their first steps towards young adulthood. High school is definitely different from elementary school, complete with multiple teachers and classrooms, a schedule, and locker assignments. While most of the first week is dedicated to learning new rules and procedures, many students get overwhelmed quickly, just trying to find their next class.
As a result, learning can easily take a back seat. Here are 5 things you, as a parent, can help your child focus on to hit the ground running and have a successful start to their freshman year of high school:
Routine, Routine, Routine.
Everyone’s schedule is different, and despite your child’s objection to the contrary, children really do crave structure. Get your child into the habit of the performing the same thing every day when it comes to school-related activities. Wake up and sleep times should be consistent so that they receive the rest they need to be productive and arrive at school on time. Plan out lunch options the night before (cafeteria/Richie’s Café/brown bag). Layout the school uniform the night before. Designate a place/time for homework. Assign a box/hook/shelf for all of the school essentials so you aren’t searching for backpacks, shoes, lunch boxes etc. each morning. You can even create a morning routine chart! Even though young adolescents want to believe that they are their own best judge of time and space, they subconsciously appreciate it when they know what to expect before/after school.
Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.
Need more ideas? Check out Back to School: How to Get a Good Routine Going by Pam Myers, BSEd.
Read through your child’s agenda with them.
Every high school prints and distributes a student agenda specific to their school. Take the time to read through it with your child so that you are both aware of the various rules, regulations, and procedures that your child’s school operates under. In addition to ample space dedicated to writing down homework assignments, test dates and project due dates, the school agenda is like your handbook outlining important things about your child’s school.
Bell schedules, educational mission statements, a list of important school dates (ped days, mini-days, holidays, school activities, etc.), procedures for absences/lates, the school’s Code of Conduct, mathematical formulas, maps, and more can be found within the pages of your child’s agenda. Make sure your child writes his/her name in the agenda, tries not lose it, and writes down their schedule/locker number as well.
Make the effort to go through all of the paperwork your child brings home on the first day.
While the conversation around the dinner table may highlight what your child’s impressions of their first day of high school is like, the nitty-gritty of the day will be in the numerous pieces of paper your child will (hopefully!) come home with after the first day, so make sure to take the time to go through absolutely everything. Each teacher will distribute a combination of the following:
- course outline
- supplies list
- forms (digital consent/emergency contact info/insurance)
- class procedures
It may be repetitive and mundane, but each teacher really does take the time to prepare the materials they believe will best educate your child. Furthermore, because each teacher is different, their approaches will be different as well, so it really is suggested that parents take the time to go over the items sent home. Being in the loop will go a long way towards fostering a positive partnership with teachers. Everyone wants what’s best for the student.
Familiarize yourself with the school’s various social media streams.
Most schools today have abandoned the traditional website and distribute the majority of their information via social media, as people are more likely to check an updated status/tweet than read an email. Become familiar with the school’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds so that you can stay on top of important school news, notices, and what’s happening at your child’s school. Social media also makes it easy to share the accomplishments of your child quickly and easily with family members, and also provides an “inside look” at what goes on during a typical school day and during special events. Also, don’t worry about being techno-illiterate – your child already knows more than you do and should be more than happy to give you a crash course!
Initiate contact with your child’s teachers.
Finally, just as you would with a new contact, business associate, or friend you’ve just made, make sure to drop them a line and further introduce yourself. Teachers are appreciative of any “insider information” they can acquire that can help them provide the best instruction and support for your child. While email is usually the fastest and most convenient route, some teachers may have even provided you with a Remind class code which will allow you to safely “text” them with any questions or concerns. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to establish and nurture an open line of communication with all of your child’s teachers. And please don’t be a stranger – make it a point to communicate with teachers regularly to get updates about how your child is doing. It’s often much easier for a teacher to respond to a specific email as things may get lost along the way because of the 100+ students your child’s teacher educates every day.
Remember, we’re here to help. Should you have any questions, please feel free to leave us a comment, or get in touch with us via email or any one of our several social media streams. We know that parents, families and carers are some of the most important influences on a child’s education. When you are positively engaged in your child’s education, they are more likely to attend and perform better at school.
Here’s to a successful, stress-free start to the school year!