How to help your high schooler prepare for the fall

I’ve spent a lot of the last month meeting with clients in various stages of High School. One thing that is consistent across the board is how challenging and unusual spring was. Kids are burned out on zoom, feeling disconnected from friends and many are mourning summer plans that went up in smoke as a result of COVID. I realize while I’m writing this how privileged these challenges are given everything going on in the world right now.

I’ve also met with educators, listened to hours of school board meetings deciding what to do about the fall. School will not look like it did before March when it resumes in August…Why am I telling you all of this? The one thing that I’ve realized, regardless of where your student goes to school, is that we need to support our students and their school community. As parents, we need to be supportive, flexible and resolute and model this behavior for our kids.

As you think about this summer (and I have another blog coming on that), please start to think about enforcing these habits when school resumes:

1. Wear a mask: Get your kids used to wearing a mask; the last thing any educator wants is to be disciplining students about this. Positive reinforcement is the way to go here- stock up on ones your kids like and will wear and make sure they have a few extra for their backpacks.
2. Get students into the habit of checking their email: I can’t tell you how many teenagers do not do this. Teachers and administrators communicate via email, and if our students are not in school as much, email becomes even more important.
3. Require your kid to attend zoom sessions: I know this doesn’t apply at private school, but it’s optional at public school. Please make this a requirement for your child. Like #2 it’s going to be a big part of school in the fall and teachers will be relying on it to communicate. Live. Love. Zoom!
4. Check your kid’s progress/grades: I usually am way more “loose” with this as I think high schoolers should have more autonomy, but I think it’s important when they are learning remotely to be held accountable for their work. A regular weekly check-in is great. As my kids’ high school principal suggested, engage in meaningful conversations. Ask your kids what they are reading, or covering in math.
5. Workspace: Summer is a great time to plan and reassess the workspace your kids were using in the spring. I am unpopular in my own house and with my clients for recommending that you do NOT use your bedroom to get your work done. I realize, if everyone in your family is home, this may be impossible, but generally speaking, a common quiet area like a dining room table or shared space is better than a bedroom. Teenagers’ rooms generally are full of too many distractions and I strongly believe a separation between a “rest” space and a “work” space is important.

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