My Kid is Starting High School, Help!

Punam SaxenaUncategorizedLeave a Comment

Every parent worries about a new school. Whether children are starting preschool, elementary, middle, or high school, there is that vast unknown we need to uncover and learn about so we can be best equipped to help our children. The learning curve can be daunting, especially if it is our oldest child who is blazing the trail for themselves and their siblings.

In our family, my oldest is our trailblazer in many ways. She has endured the brunt of having to pave the way for her three younger siblings and navigate schools, teachers, and extracurriculars first. As the oldest child in my family, I can completely empathize with her journey. It’s a tough burden to bear at times. So, when she was beginning high school, as with each and every school change that occurred in her life, I worried about what this new phase would entail, how she would adjust, and what did I not know yet that would help her (and her siblings as they soon followed behind).

So, as my husband and I say, we hit the jackpot of high schools. One that was focused on helping students prepare for their post-secondary goals-whether it was the military, vocational, or college. One that help parents understand how to become a partner in our schools and help guide their children. One that set a high expectation for each student, wherever their threshold may be. So, yes, we hit the jackpot.

One of the most important parts of high school, though, is planning out those post-secondary paths so the classes and curriculum taken in high school can best set children up for that outcome. But many students do not have any idea what their plans may be and that’s ok, too. Here is where a good guidance counselor comes in.

Again, in my humble opinion, our family hit the jackpot. Lesley Chambers, our high school counselor, sets each of her students (600+) with an academic plan for each year of high school. So you know exactly what you are academically in for before you walk into any given grade. Of course, this varied due to their interests and academic level and even any hiccups along the way. But for the most part, students know exactly what their 4-year plan looks like and how they are going to meet all the state mandated requirements for graduation. It’s a relief for students AND parents.

The vast unknown just became just the unknown. The rest was for us to figure out. Once the faculty and administration realized that we genuinely wanted to be involved, it became a symbiotic relationship which grew over the 9 years we were at the school.

I digress…let’s get back to the topic. The other, vital piece of our successful time in high school was that Lesley also provided student conferences for each grade level in the spring. This would allow each student to review their progress and preview the next academic year. Parents were also invited. This was helpful for all to be on the page and created yet another opportunity to become engaged in the school and your child’s path.

Now, I know you all are thinking, ‘My kid won’t even let me walk into the school. And worse, I have to park around the corner so no one will see them getting into my car!’ They are, after all teenagers and beginning to assert their independence. And not every high schooler wants to have us parents in their ‘business’. As a teenager, I certainly fell into that category. I wanted to create my own path and be independent although I was the least equipped to handle it. Thankfully, my parents are resilient and incredibly patient people. They weathered the storm of my teenage years and continued to persevere to provide a positive post-secondary career for me. And I am forever grateful for them.

All this to say, we parents must persevere and be patient because it is in the best interest of our children. Thankfully, my children were much kinder to me than I was to mine.

Our high school is unique in that every student was touched and guided by our guidance counselor. And there is no doubt that our teachers, guidance counselors, and administrations are overworked. As a former educator, I am in awe of my peers who work so hard, be so passionate, and take care of our children for the better part of each and every day.

So, I urge you to build a relationship with your child’s school. Everyone at the school wants children to succeed. And a guidance counselor, once they understand your child and their needs, will work extra hard to see them forge their paths. Lesley is one of the best in the business, but they all are!

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