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5 Steps to Start Freshman Year Right

August 20, 2014

By Kevin Rutter

5 Steps to Start Freshman Year Right | High school students walk through the hallway at school.

High school can be a big adjustment with a new building, teachers, rules, and fellow classmates. In recent years school administrators have recognized this challenge and put supports in place to assist you and your student in making the transition a smooth one. Here are my top five tips for making the first year of high school a successful one.

  1. Register for and participate in an orientation program. Many schools offer week-long programs for incoming students so that they can begin the process of learning about how to get around the building, where to find support, what the dress code entails, etc. This is a great opportunity for your teen to get acclimated before the entire student body shows up, bells are ringing, and the teachers are giving assignments. In lieu of a formal orientation program, you can stop by the counseling office during registration and ask for a tour of the building with your student and any guidance they might have for new students.
  2. Sign your student up for a sport or club. High schools offer a wide array of extra-curricular activities. Get your student involved in one or more. Activities provide a context to meet new friends and build collaborative skills. Studies also show that students in sports or clubs perform better in the classroom and are more engaged with their schools. 
  3. Check out the school’s website. Every high school has a website that has loads of information. Take the time to browse it with your teen. You may find programs or opportunities that you were not aware of. Additionally, once you know your student’s schedule, you can look at the homepage of your student’s teachers. Usually teachers have brief biographies, course syllabi, and their school email address posted. Look at these so you can reinforce class expectations at home. 
  4. Send an introductory email to your student’s new teachers. The teachers work directly with your student every day. Send them a quick email with a brief introduction and your contact information. This small action will open up a line of communication so that behavior and performance issues can be addressed immediately. As a teacher, I would also appreciate knowing how to get in touch with you and that you are an active supporter of your teen’s education. 
  5. Encourage and make time for your student to try new things. High school is a very important time for your teen’s social and academic growth. He or she must be given time to explore interests and try things for the first time, which will help your student develop a sense of self and learn what he or she might be good at after school. Give your student the support and time needed to do so.
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