Easing Your Child’s Transition to High School

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There’s a saying about being a big fish in a little pond. The best understanding of this phrase comes when your child transitions from junior high to high school – they go from being a big eighth grader to a small freshman, with new schedules, classes, and pressures. Help make the transition easier with these ideas:

1. Do a Dry Run

Before the first bell rings, see if your school district has a program that lets incoming freshmen explore their new surroundings without the pressure of missing classes. You can go through their day, from trying out their new locker combination to making their way from class to class. It’s also a good idea to explore bus schedules, especially for kids that take connecting buses.

2. Catch the Problems

Even the best office staff still makes mistakes, so double check your student’s schedule before the year starts. Even though he might enjoy taking an extra gym class instead of calculus, it won’t do his college applications any favors. Catching the mistakes early gives you time to straighten things out without your student missing out on any lessons or having to change his or her schedule.

3. Emphasize the Value of Grades

If your child has a lax attitude toward grades, she might be in for a surprise now that she’s in high school – even as a freshman, grades mean something. You can illustrate it this way: the average cost of tuition and fees for a four-year program comes out to $116,224 for a private school or $34,620 for a public university. Now, let’s say that your child earns a full tuition scholarship from getting straight A’s all through high school: eight classes multiplied by sixteen terms gives you 128 A grades, so the dollar value per A is approximately $908 if they get accepted to a private university, or $270 for a public education. Those are not small numbers!

When talking about grades, though, be sure to emphasize the reward rather than ratchet up the pressure. As long as your child is trying his or her best, they have a bright future ahead of them – even earning a half-tuition scholarship can save them hundreds of dollars per A.

4. Stop to Listen

As with many of the other changes going on in children’s lives, the best thing parents can do is stop to truly listen. With all the pressures of life stacking up on kids while their brains are still developing adult capacities, big changes like this can lead to big emotions. When you listen to your kid’s problems without interrupting and trying to fix things (or to tell them how you would do it), you’re showing your kids that they matter more than their report cards.

5. Experience Extracurricular Activities

Along with the pressure, high school can also be one of the greatest times for your child to explore new interests and activities. As you prepare for the new school year, help your child find out about the clubs, sports teams, and music programs at the high school. Not only will picking activities help enrich your child’s school experience, but they can also improve her social circle and make the difference on college applications as well.

6. Model a Positive Attitude

One thing’s for sure – when it comes to how to feel, your kids are paying less attention to what you say and more attention to what you do. Keeping positive yourself during this time will show your child that it’s going to be a fun four years, and that with the right amount of organization, he can have his valuable A’s while still having fun. So if you feel like stressing out about what the future holds, take a moment to collect yourself. Having confidence in your child can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Here’s wishing the best of luck to the freshman class this coming school year!


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