As a parent, you are probably tingling with excitement at the anticipation of the new school year starting and getting your teenager back into the groove of things! Gone will be the days of sleeping until noon, constantly borrowing the car, and staying out too late! You are celebrating the return of set schedules, dress codes and regular progress reports.
Would you be surprised to know that your teenager is also looking forward to going back to school? Is it possible you both actually agree on something???
It seems like most teenagers are excited to return to school, but not for the same reasons as their parents (surprise, surprise). We surveyed a handful of teens, ages 14-15, and found that most are excited for school to start again so they can see friends, participate in extracurricular activities and experience important milestones, like getting a driver’s license or going to prom. While all those polled acknowledged the importance of doing well in their classes and have aspirations to attend college after graduation, not surprisingly, nobody listed homework, tests, and grades as something they were looking forward to.
So what can you, as a parent, do to help boost the morale of your teen this year?
- Share in the excitement of the things your teenager is actually excited about. If your student is in the band or plays a sport, take an active role (without be too controlling) and go to games or competitions. Ask questions, offer to help or watch practices. Engage them in conversations about their extracurricular activities because this is definitely where their interests are. Additionally, participating in school activities is great motivation to keep the grades up.
- Encourage them in the classes they will admit to being excited about. If your teen is feeling good about taking an AP class or loves their foreign language class, ask lots of questions about it and praise them for a job well done.
- Make a big deal out of your teenager’s social milestones because they are a big deal. Driver’s permits and licenses, proms, homecomings…these are the events your teenager has been dreaming of since elementary school. Let them know that you also are excited for them to go through these experiences and do what you can (again, without being too controlling) to make them as memorable as possible. Remember, these are the things they are excited about…not Algebra and Chemistry.
- Try and remember what high school was like for you. We all want to see our children succeed and grow into productive, self-sufficient adults but we must also remember back to the days when we were in school and how it was not all about education. Yes, grades are important and will get you into college which will lead to a good job but developing social skills, self-esteem and strong sense of self are also key components to future happiness. Help your teen find something they are passionate about (music, art, sports, student government, the environment, etc…) and encourage their pursuit.
No parent should ever sit back and watch their children’s grades fall or act as though academics aren’t a very important part of school. As parents, it is our job to try and set our children up to be successful adults but remembering that high school is not all about the grades and letting your teen know that you understand what they are going through (whether they believe you or not) will go a long way in making the upcoming school year an enjoyable experience for both of you…although your teenager will probably never admit to it!