At the risk of coming across as an interfering parent, it’s important that you do find ways to get involved with your teen’s high school education as you’re one of the key players in the equation that factors into their success.
This isn’t to say that your teen isn’t capable of helping themselves, of course. Many young people have clear ideas about what they want out of life, so while they’re at school, they might work as hard as they can to improve their chances of reaching their dream future.
Some teens, on the other hand, need a little more encouragement. They might resist the idea of homework in the evening. They might try to avoid certain classes altogether. And they might find it hard concentrating on the future, especially if they have no idea about the types of careers they want to get into.
But whatever the case, don’t underestimate your role as a parent. There is much you can do to support your teen with their high school education, no matter how proactive they are themselves, and in this article, we are going to give you a few suggestions.
#1: Take an active interest in your teen’s daily school life
Do you know what your teen is doing at school? Do you know what courses they are taking? Do you know what problems they might be experiencing? While your teen might be less than communicative with you when you ask such questions, you should still make the effort to raise them for two reasons.
Firstly, and most obviously, you will learn more about your teen’s time at school. You might pick up on clues that they are unhappy or that they aren’t working as hard as they should be, so you will then have the incentive to find out more to put your teen on the right path.
Secondly, if you take an active interest, it will show your teen that you care about their education. For this reason, they might be more communicative with you about what is going on, now and in the future, and they might try harder if they know that you care about what they are doing.
#2: Show encouragement
As a follow-on from the above, be an encourager.
When your teen tells you about things they have achieved at high school, celebrate their successes. Throw a party, buy them a gift, give them a celebratory hug!
When your teen is performing at school, perhaps in a play or in a sports tournament, show up! Be there to watch what they are doing with joy in your heart, as your joy might be infectious, so your teen might make special efforts to do better in whatever they are doing.
And when your teen is struggling with a particular subject, encourage your teen to keep going. Help them as much as you can so they know you are supporting them.
The more you can do to encourage your teen, the better, as if you’re cheering for them on the sidelines of their high school education, they will be motivated to do their best.
#3: Support them with the academic side of their high school life
As we suggested above, your teen might struggle in certain subjects. This is natural as, like you, your teen can’t be good at everything. However, you should still support your teen with the academic side of their high school life, especially when it comes to those courses that are necessary for their future hopes and dreams.
So, if your teen is struggling, offer to help. You shouldn’t do their work for them, of course, but you might still point them to the right places on the internet for help, and you might want to speak to their teachers for advice. You might also want to arrange extra tuition for them as, despite the expense, your teen will get the extra coaching they need to succeed. You can easily find such support online – we came across one organization that can provide you with an online physics tutor, for example – so look for similar in line with the subjects your teen struggles with.
#4: Talk to your teen about the future
It might be that your teen clearly has their future mapped out, in which case, they might know more than you do on what they need to do to succeed. On the other hand, they might have no idea at all about what direction to go in, so you might need to offer your support in this matter. So, if it is a case of the latter, make the time to talk to your teen, discuss possible career paths with them, and highlight the degree courses that they might need to work towards while still at high school.
You should also remind your teen about their future every time they slacken off, or when they consider changing courses at high school. If you know what their dream career is, you will be able to remind your teen of this to give them the incentive to make the right choices within their academic life.
Of course, your teen’s plans might change, and that’s fine. However, some direction in their life is always useful, so make sure they set foot on some kind of academic path, even if they later decide to change direction.
And finally, on this point, remember that it is important to cast aside your own wants for your teen’s future. Too many parents push their children onto career paths that either aren’t right for them or that they are resistant to. So, listen to your children’s dreams, and if they aren’t beyond the realms of reality, do what you can to help them reach their goals instead of pushing them down the path that you think they should be headed on.
#5: Send your teen to school the right way each day
A lack of sleep and a less than nutritious breakfast isn’t the right way to begin their day at high school. They will feel tired during lessons, have little energy to concentrate effectively, and they might perform poorly!
To boost your teen’s attention span and learning capabilities, make sure they have a good night’s sleep before school the next day. Make sure screen time is minimized an hour or so before bedtime, as they will have a better chance of falling asleep early. And in the morning, provide your teen with a healthy breakfast that is filled with brain foods, as they will have a better chance of performing well at school if they have been well fed with nutritional goodness.
On this point, be sure to pack a nutritional lunch for your teen too. This way, they will have a better chance of doing well after the lunch break, as they won’t experience the tiredness they might otherwise feel if they skipped out on lunch or if they made the wrong choices at the school’s cafeteria.
And finally, try to ensure your teen goes to school in a good mood. If you and they have had an argument the night before or during the morning, try to clear the air before they step out of the front door. You will feel less guilty if you do, and your teen will go to school in a mood that is hopefully conducive to learning.
#6: Deal with the obstacles to your teen’s learning
There are all kinds of obstacles that could get in the way of your teen’s ability to learn.
For one, they might have a diagnosed learning disability. From dyslexia to dyspraxia, check out these learning disabilities, and consider the signs that might suggest your teen is struggling with one of them. If so, speak to your child’s teachers, as steps should then be put in place to ensure your teen is given the best possible chance to learn, despite the challenges they face in the process.
Then there are your teen’s peers to consider. If they get in the way of your teen’s ability to learn, perhaps because they are bullies, or perhaps because they are a distracting influence, you need to find ways to handle such problems. So, you might talk to your teen’s teachers, speak to the necessary parents, and teach your teen techniques for handling bullying and/or peer pressure.
Your teen’s teacher could also be an obstacle in some circumstances, perhaps because they treat your teen unfairly or because their learning method doesn’t support your teen’s learning style. In such an instance, you should talk to the teacher or another figure with authority at school to ensure the right changes are made to support your teen.
And there could be other obstacles to your teen’s learning, which you will find out about if you adhere to the first point in this article, and talk to your teen about their high school experiences. When you discover them, research the best courses of action.
To enhance your teen’s high school life and their future, consider our suggestions. You don’t need to become a helicopter parent, overseeing every aspect of your teen’s life overbearingly, but you should be there to support them when you can. You will improve their chances of success if you do, and you will feel happier, as you will know that you have done your best in your attempts to support them.