By Ana Vela
Transitioning from eighth grade to high school is a big milestone and a critical time in a student’s life. According to a research brief from the University of Chicago, students who pass their freshman level classes are very likely to graduate from high school, while those who fail a class or two are at high risk of never graduating. Many students finish eighth grade, but drop out before they even start high school.
In last week’s article, Helping Your Child Successfully Transition to High School: Part I, I encouraged parents to help ease that transition with tips that focus on a child’s emotional and social well-being. Today I will address the physical health and academic achievement approaches, as all four of these factors are key to a child’s success.
Children continue to undergo several physical changes in high school, and will question and explore those changes.
- During the summer, have a health care provider perform a physical exam for your child. Make sure all vaccines are up to date, have eye and hearing exams performed, and allow your child to ask any questions or concerns they may have about their physical changes. Assuring your child that they are developing normally will help ease them into the transition.
- Have “the talk” with your child, if you haven’t done so already. Whatever your personal stance is on teen or premarital sex, make sure you communicate it with him or her. Don’t allow your child to face situations without any form of knowledge to make the best decision for him or herself.
- Foster a healthy lifestyle for your growing child. He or she will face unhealthy food choices, from vending machines to the freedom to leave school during lunch and eat at unhealthy food establishments. These unhealthy choices can lead to weight gain and low self-esteem, health issues such as diabetes, and poor performance in the classroom. Ensure you supplement healthy choices for your child at home, and teach him or her to make healthy choices.
As indicated by the National High School Center, “the most powerful predictors of whether a student will complete high school include course performance and attendance during the first year of high school.” As a parent, you can have a big impact by making education a known value to your child. Set positive expectations for your child's success in high school as he or she begins to transition.
- Foster your child's interests and start discussing possible careers. Come up with a plan together to get him or her to that career. Choose high school programs and extracurricular activities that support his or her interest. Find universities that offer degrees related to your child's career aspirations. Understand minimum requirements and deadlines to help guide your child to achieve success.
- Monitor your child’s attendance rate at school. Help your child to develop life skills to wake up on his or her own, gather required materials for the school day, and arrive to school in a timely manner. Remember to be a positive role model yourself by being punctual to any of your commitments as well.
- Allow your child to indicate the best way, place, and time for him or her to study. Then support and monitor your child to ensure he or she completes homework on time.
Just remember that being an involved and supportive parent is essential to helping your child transition successfully into high school and be on the right path to graduation. For more information, read part one of this series.