When was the last time you felt that frenetic energy of nerves before trying something new? Maybe it was the night before starting a new job or counting down the last few days before giving birth. Many of life’s big moments give us ambivalence, a distinct mix of nervous and excited at the same time. That’s exactly how most teens feel preparing for high school… especially as the last few weeks of summer break begin to tick down.
Here are nine ways you can help your child prepare for their first year of high school and continue to work out the jitters as school gets underway:
- Have them write down questions. Prior to your student’s high school orientation, make sure they write down any questions or concerns they have, so they can be sure to ask. Tour the building, find their locker, and review their class schedule together.
- Encourage them to talk with friends. The biggest thing to remember is we’re never alone in our feelings. Talk to other parents who’ve raised a high schooler and encourage your child to open up with friends who are likely feeling the same way.
- Get enough sleep. Everything feels better after a good night’s rest. Encourage your student to go to bed early the night before their first day. They should get at least eight hours.
- Dress confidently. How we’re dressed has a big impact on how we feel. Make sure your child has a first-day-of-school outfit that makes them feel confident and cool.
- Help set up their homework space. Many teens feel academic overwhelm early in the year, so making sure they have an easily accessible and stocked workspace at home can help them sit down with clear minds and the tools they need to complete homework assignments comfortably.
- Consider tech limits. Most high school students have smart phones or other devices, and we all know the affect blue light can have on our ability to sleep soundly. As your child builds a larger social life and independence, there will be loads more texts and social media interactions happening, so consider creating limits on how late a phone can be used, and whether it can even remain in their bedroom overnight. Better sleep means better school days.
- Keep family time. No matter a child’s age, they need to feel your support – to know they’re rooted somewhere secure. Schedule time and activities together and do your best to honor them no matter how busy your family becomes with sports, clubs, or afterschool activities (even if it’s just a standing weekly pizza night).
- Help them be realistic. We all tend to build things up in our minds – often to unrealistic heights – either assuming something will be much better or much worse than it may turn out to be. Instead of pumping them up as they head out the door with, “Today is going to be amazing” consider something like “I’m really excited for you. Today is the beginning of a cool new journey for you.”
- Encourage them to be the friend they want. It’s hard to think about others when we’re in our own feels, but it’s good to encourage your child to think about their classmates… to acknowledge that everyone is probably feeling just as nervous as they are. If your child can focus on being a good friend and helping others feel more comfortable at school, they’ll settle in too.