It seems just like yesterday when I was compiling a list of “how to prepare you child for middle school.” And, as all moms know, time just goes way too fast. If you are a first timer – like me – on sending your first born to high school, you know that fleeting feeling all too well. That whole “18 summers” bit is feeling close to home and making the already existing mom anxiety feel extra intense. We know life goes quickly, and pretty soon, we are snapping photos of those sweet babies in their caps and gowns.
But, I am going to put aside the mom feels and put on my educator hat for this one. If you’re new to sending a child to high school, I want to offer the other side of things. The perspective from someone who has been the main contact for nervous moms. Let’s chat on how to prepare your child for high school.
How to Send Your Child to High School
Take a Breath
Inhale and exhale, especially all the thoughts that this journey will be a sticky one. You’ve made it through middle school, and you let them take the reigns on responsibility. This tip is the same for high school. Continue to trust them and support them. They know you’re there when they need the chats; you know to tell them to take care of themselves. My counseling advice is to let them take the lead. You will know when intervening is necessary.
While you may need a therapy session or two when it comes to parenting teenagers, you should always have a team to consult. Friends who are educators. Friends who have been through this time already. As a school counselor, I recommend staying off the Facebook groups with the “experts.” Sure, call the school and reach out when needed. Calling every day isn’t the best practice, but establishing a relationship with a counselor is also a great idea. Let them know you’re there and ready to work to best help your child.
Don’t Play Games
The GPA one. The helicopter mom one. The constant caller/emailer one. It goes back to taking those deep breaths. Your child isn’t the same as the one who takes all the honors or AP classes because so and so said so. Your child is his or her own person. Talk with them about plans. Again, encourage them to advocate for themselves. Being “in the know” for all things just isn’t feasible, and it doesn’t teach your child to discover who they are.
Maybe they won’t make the team. Maybe they will fail their first big test. Maybe they get in a bit of trouble. All scary, right? It can feel as though you failed too. These times are for talking and learning. They are not times for calling all the coaches or teachers or school board members when your child falters. We have to let them grow, and failure is one of the best ways to do so.
Start a Portfolio
While it may seem early to do so, this tip is one I share often as a school counselor. Save awards, certificates, or any accolade. Encourage them to build a rapport with teachers and keep their names noted as ones who can write recommendation letters. Create a simple word document that includes hours of volunteering or small (and big) things they do around the community. You will be so happy to have these things in one place once the busyness of college prep begins.
I am teetering between complete anxiety and pure excitement that I am about to have a high schooler. Some of my favorite memories are from that time in my life where I discovered more about myself and failed more times than I can count. It’s now that time for our kids.
Veteran high school moms, what other advice can you share? No matter what our background is or our parenting style, we can all use the love and advice.