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Helping Your Child Successfully Transition to High School: Part I

July 9, 2014

By Ana Vela

Helping Your Child Successfully Transition to High School: Part One | A mother puts her arm around her teenage daughter, who is wearing a cap and gown.

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.

Parents have a significant impact in helping their child transition successfully to high school. There are many factors that educators believe lead to this dismal trend, especially focusing on the academic achievement of a student. Parents should use a holistic approach with their child, focusing on emotional well-being, social well-being, physical health, and academic achievement. All of these factors affect how a child performs in high school.

Today I will address the emotional and social well-being approaches. In part two of this series, which will publish next week, I will address the physical health and academic achievement approaches.

Here are some helpful tips for parents to implement to help their child successfully transition to high school:

Emotional Well-being
Your child may be feeling anxious and nervous about transitioning to high school.

  • Talk to your child about your own high school experiences, and encourage him or her to be excited for this milestone in his or her life.
  • Make quality time with your child and develop a trusting relationship in which your child feels comfortable discussing any issues he or she encounters at school with you.
  • Attend Freshman Orientation with your child so you are both well prepared for the beginning of the year. Anything that helps your child avoid any embarrassing mistakes as a freshman will help his or her nerves.

Social Well-being
It is critical that your child socializes with friends who will positively influence your child's path.

  • Help your child transition into a responsible and independent young adult. Make it clear what your expectations are for curfews, homework and grades, household chores, driving, dating, social media and technology use, etc., as well as the consequences for not following your rules. It will help your child to balance his or her social life with your expectations, and avoid misunderstandings between you and your child.
  • Encourage your child to join extracurricular activities at the school and make friends with similar interests. Extracurricular activities boost self-esteem and look great on college and scholarship applications.
  • Find opportunities to meet your child's friends and their parents. Building that support network allows you to provide more trust and freedom for your child to socialize.

These efforts are relatively easy ways for you as a parent to engage with your child and prevent him or her from dropping out of school. Next week I will give you tips on addressing your child’s physical health and academic achievement.

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