Our family made it alive through our son’s first year of high school! With Zach’s freshman year behind us, I thought it would be nice to share 5 important things all high school parents should know before their kids start high school. Boy, how I wish we knew then what we know now!
It’s hard to believe that almost a year ago to the day, Patrick and I were freaking out that middle school for Zach was already over. It seemed impossible to us that we were now going to be parents of a high schooler. We definitely didn’t feel ready for it to be here, but ready or not, it came. And as of yesterday, Freshman year already went bye-bye forever. Thank goodness!
As parents, I can admit we definitely weren’t prepared for what this year had in store for us. I think we just assumed it was going to be like any other school year thus far. Boy, we were wrong! Had I known what I know now, I would’ve been reading posts like these to get a better idea of what we were in store for. So kudos to you for being way ahead of where Patrick and I were this time last year.
They say hindsight is 20/20 and we just can’t change the past. All I can do at this point is share what I’ve learned this first year of high school to help future parents of high schoolers survive the ups, downs, and in-betweens!
Although I am sure I can come up with a ton more, here are my 5 Important Things All High School Parents Should Know.
Academically, high school is hard.
Has your child filled out their course selection paperwork for high school yet? If they have, I’m sure you know how overwhelming it can be. Unlike in elementary and middle school where most students in every grade level learned the exact same concepts, high school has so many different classes to choose from. I know all school districts are different, but ours offers regular and honor level classes, advanced placement (college-level) and online courses to choose from. Oh, and don’t forget to add electives to the mix. I can only guess that this is similar all over the United States.
With so many different options for courses, students are finally able to be placed in classes that challenge them and push them to achieve at a higher level. The workload can be intense. I mean REALLY intense. Gone are the days where you can just sit in class, listen to a lecture and still end up with an A. There are projects, reading assignments, note taking requirements, online homework, and much, much more. The list never ends!
This folks was our family’s biggest struggle this year! Our super smart boy who was able to “just get by” for the last 8 years with A’s and B’s, struggled immensely in this department. I vented quite a bit about it on the blog throughout the course of the school year because it DROVE ME ABSOLUTELY CRAZY.
Now is probably a good time to tell you I have a degree in education so Zach struggling in school really hit me hard. Somehow I felt I should’ve been able to prevent this from happening. I tried everything I could think of to help Zach. I even wrote a series on, How to Organize Your Student for Success, focusing on all the strategies I had come to learn as a teacher and a parent.
I now know that this was just something Zach had to go through and learn from. I will say that even though our children are getting older, they will still need our help and support through it. I know Zach did. It’s definitely a work in progress, but Zach did end the school year on a completely better note! I have high hopes for the upcoming school year. He better not let me down…or else! Just kidding!
Socially, high school is hard.
Things haven’t changed much from when you and I were in high school. What do I mean by this? Well, you still have your mean kids. There are still bullies. The “cool kids” rule the school and the cheerleaders are still dating the jocks.
As parents, we can look back at our high school years and laugh at all the silliness that took place. We can probably count on one hand how many of our friends we even still talk to from high school. It’s crazy how little effect our high school status has on our adult lives. Nonetheless, when we were in high school, we felt the same way as our kids do.
Finding where you fit in a sea of a million other kids is stressful. As a parent, it’s hard to just take a backseat and watch your child figure this out on their own. Yes, I’m saying this from experience! There have been many times this school year that I’ve wanted to fly in and save the day when Zach was clearly struggling socially.
My motherly instincts kicked in about halfway through the first quarter when I started noticing Zach spending all his time on the weekends sleeping and not wanting to do anything with friends. I sat back and observed him but tried to talk him through it at the same time. Eventually, it got to the point where I had to step in but I did it in a “cool” way. You can read about our bonfire experience, here.
Social acceptance can take a huge toll on your high schooler. This is something to be very aware of. Just be observant of your child and their behavior.
Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.
Again, these same things were happening when you were in high school so you shouldn’t be shocked. You can’t be naive enough to think that these things just magically disappeared the day you graduated high school.
Even though all these shenanigans are still happening today, I have found a couple of things to be a little different in regards to these topics.
First, I feel like kids are experimenting with drugs and sex a lot younger these days. Maybe it’s tv, movies, or Internet, who knows. All I do know is your 9th grader will see people doing drugs in the bathroom at school, be offered drugs at school, asked for money so that person can buy drugs, know of friends sneaking off to have sex in cars, bathrooms, etc.
We live in a great neighborhood in case you were wondering. It doesn’t matter where you live. These things are happening everywhere!
Second, kids aren’t just sneaking cigarettes or smoking pot these days. They are taking pills, eating Tide Pods, and smoking all sorts of things in e-cigs. Do your research and be aware of what’s out there. You’d be shocked at what kids are using to get high!
Be open with your child about your expectations in regards to all this. Pretending these things aren’t happening isn’t going to benefit anyone. Yes, we have had to talk extensively about all this with our freshman and you should too! It’s awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved but it sure beats the alternative.
Time management is key.
I’ve already mentioned that regular high school academics are a struggle all on their own. Try adding in a sport, club, or band (in Zach’s case) to the mix and it’s just pure insanity. Juggling school and extracurricular activities can be a real challenge for your 14-year-old.
Of course, you want your child to be involved, but you don’t want them overextending themselves either. Help your child create a schedule that blocks off time for school work and extracurricular activities. Before they commit to anything additional that isn’t already on their schedule, have a talk with them and see if there truly is enough time to get it all done.
There’s a fine line between staying busy and burning yourself out. We know this all too well as parents. If we can teach our kids this lesson at a young age, we can possibly save them from it in the future.
Be patient, loving, supportive and a good listener.
High school is a huge transition. Your child is changing in so many ways. As hard as it is for you to understand, your child is feeling that way a thousand times more.
Have I wanted to kill Zach about a million times this school year over missed assignments or low test scores? Yes!
Did I want to freak out when he told me about the kids snorting something in the school bathroom? You darn right better believe it!
Sometimes all this honesty is too much for me to handle but I never show it. I grab my composure, take a deep breath, and I listen. I do give my opinions from time to time when I disagree with something Zach says, but ultimately he needs to learn how to deal with the consequences of his choices. It’s all a part of growing up! As painful as it may be…
No ill feelings to Zach’s freshman year of high school, but I think all three of us can say we are happy to see it go. It was a huge learning experience for Zach, and even more so for us as his parents. We’ve had some amazing experiences, wonderful accomplishments, awkward conversations, and a ton of teachable moments. It was a roller coaster ride, to say the least! And although I can’t prevent it from being a wild ride for you too, I hope these 5 Important Things All High School Parents Should Know help you prepare and have peace knowing you’re not in this alone!
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