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Helping Your Teen Excel in High School

Helping Your Teen Excel in High School

It's time to head back to school, and if you have a teen (or two) in high school, you're probably already thinking about ways to help him or her survive mentally, emotionally and academically. Even if it's not your teen's first year, high school can be scary, stressful and dramatic.

In addition to the physical changes (and raging hormones!) associated with puberty, for most teens, high school is the start of dating, building deep friendships, planning for college and figuring out where they fit into the world. It's a perfect storm of social chaos (e.g., gossip, hurt feelings, peer pressure and popularity contests), academic challenges and a quest for independence while still living at home.

To help you help be a supportive parent, we've put together some tips to help your teen excel. Remember, if they think high school is hard, just wait until they get to college! The better you can prepare your high schooler now-in terms of independence, academic excellence, accountability, confidence and resiliency, the better.

  1. Get them a padlock to practice on. If this is your teen's first time user a locker with a padlock, they may be feeling worried about not being able to open it fast enough-or at all. It's a small gesture, but one that can go a long way to build their confidence.
  2. Encourage them to sign up for a club or sport. Feeling like you're part of a team or group with common interests is a great way to build confidence, make friends and boost your academics and/or fitness levels.
  3. Host sleepovers or parties. The girl who throws the sleepover is rarely the one to be left out of things. For older kids, you may be willing to host a coed movie night or pool party. Just be sure everyone understands the rules in advance!
  4. Remind them that they're not alone. Teens of both genders can be very dramatic and think they're the only one experiencing something. Help ease their feelings of loneliness or sadness by reminding them that other teens are going through the same thing.
  5. Enroll them in personal brain training. If your teen struggles academically, take them to a one-on-one brain training center for a cognitive skills assessment. The assessment will tell you which cognitive skills-like attention, logic & reasoning, memory, processing speed, and visual and auditory processing-are weak. Once these skills are identified, a customized brain training program is created to help target those skills. The results can be life-changing!
  6. Get involved at the school. Too often, teens suffer because their parents aren't involved in their education. Volunteer at the school when you can, even if it's only working the concession stand at football games or helping to raise money for new band uniforms.
  7. Encourage them to take leadership roles. Being involved in a lot of clubs and sports looks good on college applications, but leadership roles are even more impressive. Encourage your daughter to run for Student Council president or your son to offer to be team captain in Mathletes. Leadership roles build confidence, help them get to know more people and earns them respect among their peers and teachers.
  8. Review their school-related papers, assignments and homework each night. Even seniors miss assignments, forget to do homework and wait until the last minute to write papers that count for a quarter of their grade. By staying involved and asking questions, you'll help your teen stay on top of things and plan their schedules accordingly.
  9. Download apps to help with time management and organization.
    With so much going on-tests, assignment deadlines, college applications, after-school activities-teens can always use a little help with organization and time management. Forget the "Trapper Keepers" of your generation and consider instead free or low-cost apps. You can read recommendations and reviews online or ask the most organized people you know (adults included!) how they stay so organized.
  10. Talk about personal responsibility. No one likes it when they mess up, but constantly blaming others for your mistakes doesn't add to your character or credibility. Talk to your teen about peer pressure, risk-taking and taking responsibility for their actions. Help them understand why you or the coach or the school has consequences and that the rules are for everyone.