Bigger halls, bigger kids, bigger classes-- high school. If you’re not careful, your teen might be overwhelmed by this completely new environment, but they don’t have to be. Below are six tips to help prepare your students for their journey into high school.
The classes your teens take are obviously the most important part of their high school experience. It’s their chance to discover something new that they may not have known they would enjoy, a chance to expand on activities they already love, and a chance to realize that an experience may not be for them. Go over their schedule with them and help them balance it out. Does the school work by semesters? If so, you might want to separate the English classes and the history, as well as the math from the science, to help balance their homework load and keep them from forgetting everything for each subject. Your school has 8 classes all year? Make sure your teen has at least one class that is just for fun, like an art or tech class, and a good study hall period (first period study hall is kinda useless guys!).
I won’t say that appearance is everything, but it sure can make a difference. If your teen is uncomfortable in whatever she/he is wearing, then she will be uncomfortable in everything else in this terribly new situation. Break down and get her some new clothing, even if it’s just one, new-to-you, first day of school outfit. Let her pick whatever makes her feel totally confident, so that confidence can shine beyond new school nerves.
At the risk of sounding like Dora the Explorer, Backpack! Backpack! I can’t say it enough. Toting your books around can cause so many bodily problems without the proper backpack. Know what kind of backpack your teen feels most comfortable with (messenger bag? Two straps? Rolling?) and invest in a sturdy one. I understand the temptation to buy a cheap one, but a good quality backpack can last your teen through college.
Most schools are short on lockers. Even if they aren’t, there is no guarantee that the locker will be anywhere near any of your teen’s classes. Suggest to them that they share a locker with some of their friends. If one has an upstairs locker and you have one downstairs, split your books equally and avoid having to haul your entire day’s worth of books with you everywhere.
Gone are the days of having time to mosey through line and leisurely eat lunch. Warn your teen that time is limited and eating is important. You CANNOT make it through an entire day with no food. Bring your lunch, bring snacks, or barrel through that line, whatever you have to do to make the most of your lunch period.
I don’t just mean the classes, although that’s suggested as well. Don’t skip the orientation programs. They are in place for a reason: to help your teens learn their way around, meet their new teachers, and get a feel for their new school. Sit through the boring speeches, take the dumb tours because on that first day, it will make all the difference vaguely knowing to go upstairs for English instead of ending up at the gym.
Don’t imagine that these are the only things you need to do to prepare your teen for the big transition to high school. They will need all sorts of help the first few weeks learning to deal with the big fish in the bigger pond, but these tips will help keep them from feeling like a minnow surrounded by sharks on that first day.