For some teens, high school is the time of their life. For others, it’s pure hell. And for many, it’s somewhere in between. Whether your teen is thriving or struggling, here are some tips for helping them get the most out of their high school education.
1. MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
As adults with work and life experience under our belt, it’s easy for us to see how important getting good grades and being involved in school is. We have the benefit of hindsight. But it’s important to remember our teens do not see the “big picture” the way we do. Their brains, bodies, identities and relationship skills are still developing. It’s a lot to deal with, and a little patience from parents is helpful.
At the same time, it’s important to not chalk up all your teen’s issues to “kids will be kids.” Things like low self-esteem, falling behind in school, stress/anxiety disorders, abusing drugs and alcohol and engaging promiscuous sex need to addressed by parents.
2. ASSESS YOUR TEEN’S LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Society dictates there is one clear and acceptable path: finish high school and go to college. And for many kids, that is exactly what they need and they find happiness and fulfillment in that plan.
But education isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all proposition. Some teens have psychological and emotional issues that are not served well in a traditional high school environment. For other students with learning disabilities, the classroom curriculum might be too much too handle. If your teen is struggling, take a honest look at what is going on and take into consideration any observations or insights from teachers or coaches. Do they have what they need to succeed? Do they just need help getting in gear? It’s also important to explore the idea that your teen might need a different learning environment completely reach their full potential. If the latter is the case, don’t think of it as a failure. Think of it as taking proactive steps to help your teen get what they need to thrive.
3. TAKE STEPS TO SET YOUR TEEN UP FOR SUCCESS
Once you feel like you have formed an educated opinion about what your teen needs to do well in school, take the steps to get it. If their environment is suitable but they just need help with motivation, have a loving talk with them about what will help them stay focused and do your part to help. You could also set up a reward system, but make sure it isn’t one that isn’t based on perfection. If your student is failing every class, telling them you will give them something if they get straight A’s is too much to take on. Work at his or her pace. That might mean the goal grade is a B, or maybe it’s not a grade but meeting with their tutor twice a week.
If you need to utilize professional help, do it! It might involve a getting a tutor or therapist. It could also involve enrolling your teen in a therapeutic boarding school. These resources and programs can help you tailor the learning environment and curriculum model to your specfic teen.