I Have a Ninth Grader :: Supporting Your Child’s Transition to High School


kids make the shift to high school

I know it seems like your baby just entered kindergarten, and here you are anxiously awaiting the first day of high school. You are probably thinking back your high school experience and excited for your child, or you are full of dread that you are attempting to hide. You are probably trying to manage how to determine the level of support and guidance you should provide as your child transitions to high school.

Here are some ways to proactively reduce the strain for both of you during the transition based on some common realities of high schools.

Prioritize Studying and Important Class Dates

Many high school teachers thankfully have a high level of expertise in their subject area. This can sometimes result in the teacher utilizing different instructional practices than what your child experienced in earlier grades.

It can also mean the teacher knows the content so well there could be a disconnect when a child struggles to master a concept. As a parent, before school starts or within the first few weeks, you may suggest your child explore one of these strategies:

        • Students should attend teachers’ tutoring/office hours at least once a week to get help, ask questions, ask for study tips, or to ask how they may strengthen their knowledge on key concepts.
        • At least twice a week, students should review any class notes or resources provided by the teacher.
        • If a class syllabus is provided, calendar major due dates, quizzes, and exams ahead of time. Consider these dates before committing to any personal events that may take the child away from school or distract him or her.

Help your child transition to high school

>> RELATED READ :: Parenting High Schoolers Through Dating <<

Develop a Relationship with Your School Counselor

School counselors are the unspoken gems who can make a difference for your child’s high school experience. School counselors have the knowledge to support with personal challenges, navigating high school, academics, and planning for life after high school. You and your child should consider building relationships with your child’s assigned counselor (often based on grade level or alphabet of last name). You definitely want to celebrate him or her during national school counseling week. Proactively engaging with the counselor in one of the following ways.

        • Regularly ask about scholarships, internships, or unique summer opportunities that have come to his or her inbox.
        • Have your child share his or her current post-high school interest and periodically update the counselor as interests change.
        • Engage with your counselor for clarity on the graduation plan selected by (or for) your child to make sure it is aligned with future aspirations.

Set Goals and Prepare for Exams 

Exams have likely been a large part of your child’s experience as a student for as long as you can remember. However, the weight associated with exams heightens in high school for most families. If your children attend a public school, they have the weight of STAAR end-of-course exams. If they are in advanced placement (AP) courses, they are faced with AP exams. After high school, those considering the military have aptitude and physical fitness exams to complete. If they are hoping for college entrance, most likely, they are planning to take one of the college entrance exams. Consider these tips to reduce the level of overwhelm these exams cause.

        • Make sure your child (and you) are clear about what exams need to be taken based on your child’s desires and associated deadlines and ideal scores to reach related goals. This is another place to engage with your school counselor.
        • Work alongside your child early to identify resources and free/affordable options to help your child prepare for the required exams. Reach out to your child’s teachers or counselor for suggestions.
        • After exams, make time to review the scores with your child. During this time, celebrate what went well and determine if he or she should retake (if possible) if a higher score is needed to meet the goal or requirement associated with the exam.

A strong relationship with a high school counselor will help your child in high school.

Become Involved in Extracurricular Activities

School extracurriculars are wonderful and students should be encouraged to give at least one a try. High schools typically offer many more options than what is offered in middle school. Extracurriculars have so many benefits, including making new friends and the possibility of building new skills.

        • Talk to your new high schooler about what he or she likes to do for fun. Determine if there is an established school extracurricular option aligned with the preferred activity.
        • Encourage your child to listen to school announcements and read school publications/social media platforms to build awareness of opportunities to become more connected.
        • Once your child is involved, attend activities or engage in conversations about the activity to show support.
>> LISTEN:: What We Wish We Knew About Parenting High School Kids :: Momfessions Podcast :: Episode 67 <<

Yes, high school comes with increased responsibility for your children. However, it can also be a time for you to guide them in a way that they feel empowered to take on this new time in their life. Lean in to know what is going on but allow your child to navigate their own path to, through and beyond high school.


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