Help Your Teen Succeed in High School
Written by Cedar Ridge Academy,
in Section Teen Living
10 Ways to Help Your Teen Succeed in High School
Parents can play a vital role in helping teens succeed in school by being informed and lending a little support and guidance. Even though teens are seeking independence, parental involvement is an important ingredient for academic success.
Here are 10 ways to keep your teen on track to succeed in high school.
1. Attend Back-to-School Night and Parent-Teacher Conferences
Teens do better in school when parents support their academic efforts. Attending your school's open house or back-to-school night is a great way to get to know your teen's teachers and their expectations. School administrators may discuss school-wide programs and policies, and post-high school options that parents and guardians of juniors and seniors need to know about.
Attending parent-teacher conferences is another way to stay informed, although in high school, staff usually set these up only when parental involvement is needed to address issues like behavior problems, falling below grade-level expectations, or alternatively, benefiting from advanced class work.
If your teen has special learning or behavioral needs, meetings can be scheduled with teachers and other school staff to consider setting up or revising individualized education plans (IEPs), 504 education plans, or gifted education plans.
Keep in mind that parents or guardians can request meetings with teachers, principals, school counselors, or other school staff any time during the school year.
2. Visit the School and Its Website
Knowing the physical layout of the school building and grounds can help you connect with your teen when you talk about the school day. It's good to know the location of the main office, school nurse, cafeteria, gym, athletic fields, auditorium, and special classes.
On the school website, you can find information about:
- The school calendar
- Contacting school staff
- Special events like dances and class trips
- Testing dates
- Current grades and missing assignments
- Sign-up information and schedules for sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities
- Student resources for life after high school
Many teachers maintain their own websites that provide access to textbooks and other resources, and detail homework assignments, and test and quiz dates. Special resources for parents and students are also usually available on the district, school, or teacher websites.
3. Support Homework Expectations
During the high school years, homework gets more intense and grades become critical for college plans. Students planning to attend college also need to prepare for the SATs and/or ACTs. Amid all these changes, many teens are learning how to balance academics with extracurricular activities, social lives, and jobs.
An important way to help is to make sure your teen has a quiet, well-lit, distraction-free place to study that's stocked with supplies. Distraction-free means no phone, TV, or websites other than homework-related resources. Be sure to check in from time to time to make sure that your teen hasn't gotten distracted.
Regularly sit down with your teen to go over class loads and make sure they're balanced, and help him or her stick to a homework and study schedule.
Encourage your teen to ask for help when it's needed. Most teachers are available for extra help before or after school, and also might be able to recommend other resources.
4. Send Your Teen to School Ready to Learn
A nutritious breakfast fuels up teens and gets them ready for the day. In general, teens who eat breakfast have more energy and do better in school.
You can help boost your teen's attention span, concentration, and memory by providing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein, as well as low in added sugar. If your teen is running late some mornings, send along fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, or a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Many schools provide nutritious breakfast options before the first bell.
Teens also need the right amount of sleep — about 8½ to 9½ hours each night — to be alert and ready to learn all day. But early school start times — on top of schedules packed with classes, homework, extracurricular activities, and friends — mean that it's common for teens to not get enough sleep. Lack of sleep is linked to decreased attentiveness, decreased short-term memory, inconsistent performance, and delayed response time.
Most teens also have a change in their sleep patterns, with their bodies telling them to stay up later at night and wake up later in the morning. Ideally, teens should try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. You can help by reminding your teen before bedtime to turn off the phone and limit video games and TV. Napping during the day can also push bedtimes back, so it's best if teens don't nap after school. Many teens try to catch up on sleep on weekends. But try to keep your teen's sleep and wake times within 2 hours of what they are during the week.
5. Instill Organizational Skills
Learning and mastering the skills of getting organized, staying focused, and seeing work through to the end will help teens in just about everything they do. But this is not usually explicitly taught in high school, so teens can benefit from some parental guidance with organization and time-management skills.
Parents and guardians can help teens keep assignments and class information together in binders, notebooks, or folders that are organized by subject. Creating a calendar will help teens recognize upcoming deadlines and plan their time accordingly. Don't forget to have your teen include non-academic commitments on the calendar, too.
It also helps for teens to make prioritized daily to-do lists, and to study and do homework in a well-lit, quiet, orderly workspace. You can remind your teen that when it comes to studying and homework, multitasking is a time-waster. Working in an environment free of distractions like TV and texts works best.
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