As a (step)Mom to a 21 year old who has graduated and a 15 year old entering his Sophomore year, I decided to easily sum up what each level of High School has as a purpose to their graduation and advancement to the next phase. Whether it be to work, attend College or apprentice, High School is the last 4 years you have as a parent to shove all you can down them before you send them off to the real world. It is not a game, it is not meant to be a social assignment, but the time when you rewind back to the preschool years when their minds were like sponges and they yearn to learn. It really does happen again to an extent at this age. I am not an educator or a counselor, just a Mom. My baby sister just graduated College this year and with my boys, I have learned a thing or two and want to share that with you!
Freshman Year-Grade 9!
The Engagement year!
Scholastically: All of a sudden every grade counts! GPA is real and a bearing on their future plans. They will meet a ‘school counselor’ who may ask if they know their goals. Why? Because if they do, they can start structuring the courses they choose around state and college standards so they have the credits they need in the end. Are they in sports and clubs? Being engaged will help them socially.
Parent Support: As soon as those syllabuses come home from the teachers the first days, email them! Introduce yourself, engage! And keep that communication going. Support your child, listen if they want an ear to talk drama, but don’t let them talk drama too much. Give a quick response and do not join their emotions. Your role is to keep them on the path of education being a priority now! Focus on that and everything else has a way of working out. Raid there backpacks! Help teach them organization with those binders and papers
Financial Planning: They are about 15 and at 15 1/2 it is Drivers Ed and permit time! Driver’s Ed can be expensive. Hight School has ways to pay for items like Annuals and ASB’s at a discount if you purchase early in the school year, so take advantage of that! Some courses-Science and maybe PE may have small fees due within 30 days after the start of its Semester.
Sophomore Year-Grade 10!
The Year of Choices!
Scholastically: PSAT! I highly recommend they take the support classes offered at most schools to guide them in the PSAT testing. The ACT and SAT’s happen Junior year and are grueling, but they are the ticket to College and they will need to be prepared! Homework is harder and expect that if they say they have no homework, they ARE being told, hopefully that about 20 minutes of review per subject each night is recommended! Insist on that. They get Elective choices-don’t force them into any they may not want. Let them choose. Mose state standards are 2 years of a foreign language and if they started year 1 as Freshman, have them choose year 2 to be completed this year(elective in HS) to be done with it!
Parent Support: They may be driving, be involved in sports and have a friend support system by now-it is up to you that they do not begin the slacking that occurs this year! Make a homework area front and center in your home and communicate-have calendars and show them you are watching and supporting them!
Financial Planning: Will they be driving this year? Plan for a pricey school parking fee. Most schools have them. PSAT prep courses are well worth the money! Better scores, better scholarship funding perhaps, so you will get a return in time on that investment now!
Junior Year-Grade 11!
Things Just Got Real This Year!
Scholastically: SAT and ACT happen! If you could not take advantage of the 10th grade support then at least work on it over the summer! These are the REAL tests! The scores the Colleges see. Also, this is the year that give the last computed grades/GPA colleges will receive as you start sending in applications next fall! They need a plan and guidance counselors at the school can help you guide them if they are having a tough time deciding on their post HS goals! This is important as they need to make sure they are enrolled in the correct courses now. Are they doing well in a particular subject-suggest them to take an Honor’s course that will always stand out on admission applications.
Parent Support: They may need you to engage in talk to help them sort out their goals. They may need to get a job this year on top of everything else. Guide them into not feeling pressured to work long hours. They have become more independent, but you are still their partner! Don’t get sucked into being their friend before you act as parent! Make sure they have a relaxation method-support them on their hobbies and make sure they get involved somehow in something!
Financial Planning: It gets worse these next 2 years! Expect fees for Junior Prom, Parking passes, ACT/SAT testing, class fees and annuals! Have them help out with this if they work-time to teach them a bit of reality!
Senior Year-Grade 12!
Scholastically: The pressure is on! They are starting to hear College Applications! Future Plans! Leave Home Soon! Graduation! I can go on, but it is the last year and enter real life! With that may come the Senioritis! They will need to remember that grades do count until the end. Colleges can and will rescind acceptance letters. If grades fall, they MUST move fast!
Parent Support: A Calendar will be your best friend. Deadlines are in abundance! College applications deadlines, graduation requirements deadlines, Scholarship deadlines, senior project deadlines! Help them stay organized and informed. Remember you are working with this child of yours that is living in a fog! Grab them often-even weekly and have a recap-what is due-talk! Don’t forget Thank You letter’s for scholarship givers and school aides who have helped along the way. Nice gesture and keeps your child compassionate and helps them feel good in a soft way! Listen! Just listen to them! They aren’t looking for you to solve their problems-if that is what they want they will directly ask so otherwise, just give them an avenue to release!
Financial Planning: Take a breath! It hits the pocket hard this year. College bound and application fees, graduation including gown fees, rings, gifts. Class fees, parking passes, annuals and a financial plan that you hopefully started a long time ago to help with college!