Tutor Doctor’s top tips for parents who want to set their students up for success as they move from middle school to high school.
If the last year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that change – especially when we have little or no control over it – can feel overwhelming. Many of us have also realized that we can survive, and even thrive, during times of transition by relying on the people and resources available to us.
If you have a student who will be leaving middle school for high school next fall, you are well aware that this will be a major milestone in their life – and in yours. And you can use lessons learned during the pandemic to support your child as they transition through this exciting and challenging time.
Set realistic expectations.
The last year and a half created big-time changes for students. They often had less or no homework, no midterms or finals, and in some cases, no tests at all. When asked about their morning routines, some of our students boldly told us they logged into their online class for attendance, then turned off their camera and went back to sleep. Others didn’t care about handing in assignments. They were feeling sad, helpless, and often hopeless, unable to visualize when things would return to “normal”.
Now that they are back in school full-time, it’s no surprise that many students are struggling to adjust. They might not be used to the workload, may miss a favorite teacher, or are anxious about renewing relationships with pre-pandemic friends.
If your middle school child is experiencing these or other challenges, you can use this opportunity to build a foundation of support that will help them adjust – as well as ease their transition to high school next year. A good place to start is by managing your own expectations and feelings of sadness or anxiety. As parents and teachers, we wish we could wave a magic want and make things instantly better for our kids. But we must accept that this is a rebuilding process that will take time.
Come from a place of understanding and compassion.
Whether navigating the return to in-person learning today or navigating a new high school in the future, your student needs the assurance of knowing they have a safe and accepting place to express how they are feeling. High school is a completely different environment, and it’s extremely common for students to feel nervous or overwhelmed when making this shift. They should be encouraged to reach out to their parents and teachers for additional support.
Being open to listening and helping your child work through their feelings will build resilience. It also reinforces to your student that asking for help – whether from you or a teacher – is a positive thing. Make sure your conversations and decisions are coming from a place of compassion and understanding – not one of anxiety. It’s also important to set aside special family time to talk about what has been going WELL for your child and celebrate his or her accomplishments – no matter how small.
Emphasize the importance of academics.
Although we don’t want students to feel overly pressured, it is important for them to realize that it’s time to take their education seriously. Grades are far more important during their high school years due to the cumulative nature of how grade point averages are calculated. When students are applying to colleges, their final GPA will include all four years of high school. As a result, students should be aware that “everything counts” from day one. That said, your student should not feel disheartened if they don’t receive the grades they want at the beginning, as colleges also appreciate marked improvement over time.
Promote effective study routines.
At-home learning’s distractions and lack of structure made it challenging for even the most dedicated students to practice good study habits. At Tutor Doctor, we have helped many students get back on track by learning to manage their online assignments and realizing the importance of handing in each assignment on time. Simple things like checking in with your student to make sure they are reviewing homework websites regularly and studying a little every day can have a big impact on their academic performance. The sooner they establish an effective study routine, the better prepared they will be for high school, when juggling five or more classes each semester is the norm. And if they are not already using an agenda or planner to keep track of daily assignments, help them choose one that works for them. Click HERE to check out our previous article for ideas.
Encourage your student to get involved – but to avoid overdoing it.
High school offers students endless opportunities to find their “niche” by getting involved in clubs, sports, study groups, and after school programs. Joining in will allow your child to build relationships with students with similar interests, as well as provide extracurricular activities they can add to your college applications. But there is such a thing as being too involved! The wise parent makes sure their student avoids burnout by spreading themselves too thin.
Now is the time to support your student’s ability to think for themselves and make choices for their future. Many high schools offer excellent support systems to help students develop greater independence, providing a network of teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, and other professionals they can tap into for guidance. It is critical for every adolescent’s development that parents step back from micromanaging and encourage their children to advocate for themselves. Helping your student discern who to go to for what and build connections with other adults they can trust will go a long way towards helping them discover who they are, what they believe – and what they want out of life.
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Meet Jessica Bush
For Jessica, “making learning personal” is not just a slogan – it’s the foundation on which she has built Tutor Doctor North Jersey and Rockland. For the past 10 years, her instinct for uncovering the unique needs and desires of students and their families – and her passion for helping them achieve their dreams – have been the hallmarks of her tutoring practice.
Jessica understands that learning is often about more than just mastering academics. Whether it’s test anxiety, executive function, or school avoidance, her expertise lies in helping families address even the most complex learning challenges holistically. Families can count on her not only to connect the right tutor with the right student, but to build a support team with a shared commitment to seeing each student succeed – in school and in life.
Connect with Jessica at (201) 492-1888 or visit www.TutorDoctor.com/Bergen-Rockland
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