Change is a scary thing. When you are a teenager that’s being bombarded by drastic physical and hormonal changes, it becomes even scarier. Having to transition from middle school to high school in the middle of it all, only makes things even more difficult. Especially now with the pandemic and the new school dynamic. While I am glad my daughter can still to some extend have some normalcy during this time, not many are afforded that opportunity. With that said, I hope you find these tips helpful as you help your son or daughter transition from middle school into high school even with remote-learning.
Tips to Help Your Teenager Transition from Middle School to High School
While it is true that some teens make smooth transitions into high school without needing any extra help, many of them have a tough time coming to terms with the change. Unfortunately, when students have difficult transitions, they become demotivated, leading to low grades, a high drop-out rate, and depression.
The good news, though, is that there are certain things you can do to help your teen make this transition easier. Here are 20 tips to help you do that:
- Understand that it is normal to be afraid.
A lot of teens are terrified of high school. They worry about the unfamiliar buildings, new teachers, having to deal with more students than they were used to, and being intimidated by older students. Will they be able to handle everything that comes with being a high school student? This mix of emotions is completely normal. As a parent, it is your job to talk to them about their fears and listen to what they have to say. Then find out if there is anything you can do to help decrease their anxiety.
- Talk to them about some of the changes they should expect with high school.
Talk to them about the physical changes they should expect and the changes in behavior that will come with those changes. They will soon be very interested in romantic relationships. How should they navigate this new world?
- Get involved in their schooling.
Talk to your child about school. Check their homework, meet their teachers, attend PTA meetings, and attend school events. Above all else, be proud of their accomplishments and show them your enthusiasm.
- Encourage them to make friends with other high schoolers.
Middle schoolers who have high school friends have an easier time transitioning. If you have a child or a relative who is already in high school, ask them to talk to your teen about their experiences and what helped ease their own transitions. Such conversations can help your child feel more relaxed about starting high school.
- Consider getting your child a college mentor.
A successful student currently in college with recent knowledge of admissions requirements can be an invaluable asset to your child early in their high school career. They will help guide them on choosing appropriate classes and extracurriculars, entrance exam prep, and admissions essays. They can also help with goal clarification and boosting their study skills.
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- Encourage them to get to know their teachers.
Making friends with teachers is definitely not number one on the cool list, but studies have shown that kids who have a good relationship with their teachers have an easier time transitioning into high school. Teachers provide social support and invaluable advice that your child can use when they are feeling overwhelmed.
- Encourage them to participate in extracurricular activities.
Extracurricular activities are a good idea because they help foster strong relationships with teachers and other students. In the process, your child will get to form a strong bond with their school. Encourage them to look for activities that they have a genuine interest in.
- Talk to them about your high expectations for them.
Studies have shown that parents who have high expectations of their kids and let their kids know about these expectations, then encourage them to meet those expectations have high-achieving kids who exceed their expectations, especially academically. Let your child know that you expect them to do well in school, and they will.
- Let them know that you care about them, not just their accomplishments.
While you may have high expectations of them, they also need to know that to you; they are more than just their grades. Let them know that you care about their feelings more than you care about their accomplishments. At this age, teens still greatly value their relationships with their parents. It is your job to make this relationship as healthy as possible. This will give you a more confident teen who is better equipped to face any challenges they may face during their high school years.
- Help them with time management.
When kids start high school, they still have rudimentary time management skills. Since they have bigger workloads, consider helping them find a system that works for them, so they don’t get overwhelmed and stressed.
- Establish a routine.
Routines are essential if you want your child to build good study habits. Top on your list should be setting up an organized, consistent homework routine. Encourage them to do their homework simultaneously every day and get rid of any distractions, such as phones, games, and TV.
- Teach your child to think ahead and prepare early for things.
Teens are lazy. They lack focus and forethought. It is your job to help them foster these skills. Help them learn to use alarms, reminders, and post-it notes to avoid being disorganized and rushing through things like morning routines.
- Visit the school with them before it starts.
Orientation visits before the school year’s official start are a great way to help your child transition more smoothly to high school. If your teen is anxious about the new environment, visiting their future classes, and interacting with their future teachers can go a long way in making them less anxious about what to expect.
- Visit colleges with them.
When they are just starting high school, consider introducing them to college. Any college will do; the idea here is to help foster a college-bound mentality. This will help ease their transition. Casual tours of local colleges are also great because they help make later formal college visits less daunting.
- Talk to them about limits.
High school comes with a lot of freedom. If you haven’t already, it is now time to have a serious discussion with your teen about lines that cannot be crossed. While you must be willing to hand over control for some stuff, you still need to lay down some ground rules on what you expect and the consequences of ignoring those things.
- Help them brush up on their social skills.
Your child is going to be meeting a lot of people for the first time. Remind them about social rules and how they should think before they speak. Talk to them about being respectful of other people’s opinions and not interrupting. If they need it, consider enrolling them in a social skills class.
- Encourage them to stand up for themselves.
Self-advocacy is an important life skill that will benefit them greatly, even beyond high school walls. They need to learn to seek help on their own. Be supportive of their efforts, and gently guide them if you need to. Above all else, stay involved to make sure that they get what they need.
- Address any health issues they may be facing.
Most mental health issues surface in the teenage years. There are also emotional and physical issues that they may be dealing with that also need to be addressed. Addressing them this early will help prevent larger setbacks down the road.
- Let them have some alone time to decompress.
Your child may not always want to talk to you when they get home from school. Don’t ask them too many questions if they are not interested in having a conversation. Don’t be offended, either. Just let them know that you are available if they want to talk later. This will make them feel that their needs are understood at home even when things are not going so well at school. And they will be more likely to open up to you about any issues they may be facing.
- Focus on the end goal.
Why do they need to work hard? It’s not just about good grades. You want them to have successful futures. When your teen can focus on the bright future they want and their dreams beyond high school, it becomes more tolerable and become more motivated to work towards something bigger than mere grades.
The transition from middle school to high school can be rough. However, this does not mean that it has to be traumatic. Your teen can prepare for this transition well and have a successful and positive outcome with your help. In the end, they may realize that high school was one of the most wonderful experiences of their lives, thanks to you.