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Some Helpful Hints For High School Freshmen - And Their Parents

Updated on October 27, 2011

For the past decade or more, your child has been in a cocoon.

Particularly during the elementary school years, your youngster has been nurtured and pampered, with all of the faculty and staff making sure that he - or she - was healthy and happy, doing whatever was necessary to assist in your son or daughter's learning and development.

Now that your kid is fourteen (or fifteen), he or she is about to leave that cocoon and enter the NFL of K-12 education - High School.

The land of football games under the Friday night lights and homecoming courts.

Of SAT tests, winter formals, and senior proms.

And hopefully of mortarboard caps with those little tassels hanging from the side, long flowing gowns, and all-night grad nights.

For the next four years, what your child does will in a large way determine that child's future for the following ten years.

At the very least.

In light of schools opening this month across America, and having worked with young people for over twenty years, I feel that I ought to offer a little friendly advice as to how best to guide your young adolescent as he (or she) begins their high school career.

For starters, a common mistake that parents tend to make is that their direct involvement in their offspring's school life often lessens once ninth grade arrives.

Visits to back-to-school nights and conferences with the teachers are stopped, PTA meetings are blown off, and guess what? No more birthday pizza or holiday room parties for the class.

Now while I am not suggesting that you should bring ice cream and balloons to your teen's biology lab, you do need to stay involved.

High school is a time when many adolescents stray off the right path. The studying and doing the homework decreases, while the partying increases, because being thought of as part of the "cool" crowd and as the popular kid who doesn't have to worry about weekend plans is more important than ever.

That is why it's essential that you, as a parent, make sure that your child handles his business in the classroom. Monitor the assignments, the projects, and the homework. See that the studying gets done; don't take your kid's word for it.

In other words, make sure they're not chatting online about what so-and-so was wearing in English class that day.

Believe me when I say that it will all be worth it when those big manila packets arrive in the mail during the 12th grade saying "Congratulations! Welcome to UCLA (or UC Berkeley, or Stanford)". Or when that joyful news is emailed, as many colleges do these days.

Secondly, have your youngster partake in at least one extracurricular activity. Or as I would tell them, "Join something".

If your teen is of the belief that sports and pep come straight from the devil, that's perfectly OK. It's so not about being the stud on the football team or trying to become the next Kobe Bryant. Or jumping around in miniskirts and midriff-baring tops yelling "Fight Team Fight!"

There's a whole world of activities that your son or daughter can do that is far from the realm of school spirit.

I, for instance, played the saxophone not only in the marching band during my days in high school, but in the jazz ensemble as well. I even tried the string bass in the orchestra for a year and a half, but that didn't work out so much.

There's also drama if your youngster likes the stage and desires to become an Academy Award winner some day, ballet and modern dance troupes if they are so inclined, and chorus for all those aspiring Christina Aguileras and Alicia Keyses out there.

Not to mention the different clubs and organizations that abound at every school, such as the school newspaper or the debate team, or the Future Business Leaders of America for those who think Donald Trump is God.

And for all those sentimentals who want to help preserve the memories for the reunions, there's the ever popular yearbook staff.

With all these things - and more - available to enhance your kid's high school experience, there's really no excuse. Those children who do nothing in high school are much more likely to do stupid things like smoke, drink, use drugs, and have unprotected sex than children who have something to do in school outside of language arts and geometry.

As I once heard someone say, "Idle hands are the devil's playground".

I won't lie; these next four years will be a crucial time for your new high school teen as far as development and growth as a person. There will certainly be temptation out there.

Lots of it.

It will be easy for your child to go buck-wild, to be badly influenced and to fall into bad crowds, possibly doing dumb things that were unthinkable just a few years before. However...

If you as a parental unit stay vigilant during this vulnerable time, there will be no reason why your son or daughter will not leave high school a wiser, mature, and confident young adult, ready to take on college and beyond as the cap and gown is worn on that final day, with "Pomp and Circumstance" playing in the background.


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    • Neil Ashworth profile image

      George Poe 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Good piece of writing.