By Guest Blogger Amy Beveridge

The rite of passage of high school: the smell of gym socks, boys in fast cars, college and future life decisions to be made. No longer does the child stand in front of your house holding the cute placard on the first day—instead they might ask to be dropped off a block away from school and not to be seen with their parents. While this is the case for some, most high schoolers become aware of the fact that the game has changed. They feel the beginning pressure of the future as well as the sense that others seem to watching their every move. High school can and should be an exciting time for students, one that sees them branching out from their nest, beginning to spread their wings and testing the sky to what lies ahead.

As a parent of a new kindergartner, I might not have the exact parental advice needed for the high school parent, but in 18 years of teaching 11th grade where the curriculum might have changed and technology has definitely changed—the students have stayed the same. They still feel hyper aware that someone is monitoring their outfit, what they say and who they hang with. They still let little things bother them and everything seems to be crisis. There is still that student who never studies or takes notes and seems to pass every assignment, while the other kid writes every word of a lecture and cannot pass a test to save their life. There’s the class clown, the nerd, the bookworm, the jock, the teacher’s pet—they all still exist in high school—the only difference is they now all carry smart phones.

Coming up with some pieces of advice for parents and students was tough so I enlisted some of my colleagues for help. Each are suggestions to explore as your child enters the world of high school.

  • Become involved in school! It’s a long four years for you only to go to class! There is something for everyone – a club, an activity, a sport! Being involved is any easy way to find someone with your common interests.
  • As a parent become active while you can—use the POWERFUL tool of PowerSchool and knowing your child’s grades and attendance. This system is a live look into the school life of your child and is accessible 24/7. It’s advised to become active before you lose control.
  • Now is the time to become organized—4 classes, A day vs. B day, 4-6 classes and teachers, maybe even two schools—high school is tough to navigate—organization makes your life easier.
  • Have an agenda, keep up with a calendar!
  • Students have a powerful school and studying tool in CELL PHONES! Encourage your student to download the PowerSchool app so they can have access to their grades themselves and take responsibility. There are so many studying apps—flash cards, quizlet, and others that your student can use to AID in their learning.
  • Recognize that students are addicted to their phones and it is such a challenge for teachers to fight this addiction and keep the attention of 30 phone holding teenagers. To help this, don’t text or call your child during school or class hours. They haven’t learned the art of calling later, they treat everything as an emergency that has to be answered asap. Even if you ask them to remember to feed the dog, they feel the necessity to answer “ok”
  • Students usually spend more time complaining about the work than actually completing the assignments. I believe that keeping students on track and curbing procrastination helps eliminate headaches in the future. If a student waits until the last minute to start their semester long “Around the World” project, you’ll suffer just as much as them.
  • Just as they say junior year is the toughest with the threat of reality settling in—college, future, majors, GPA and SATs—the entire four years can be a tough time for some students. Remind them to treat their actions as if someone IS watching or videotaping. While a text might be deleted on your phone, it never is truly deleted. Use caution in anything you Write, Text or Take a picture of—consider that permanent someone for the rest of their life!
  • Don’t ever be afraid to be yourself! Peer pressure isn’t the after school special from when we were kids. It abounds in school, from the outfit you wear, to the people you choose to be friends with. The hardest part is to learn who you really are and to be confident in that person.
  • High schoolers believe they are the 3 I’s:
    1. Invisible—no one ever seems them sneak a look at their phone while taking a test,
    2. Invincible—an 11th grader told me last night, “I am the best driver, it’s everyone else out there that needs to learn to drive.”
    3. Individual—“yes, I’m so unique, I am the only one wearing Jack Rogers sandals today”
  • The reality of these three words can be a true learning experience for some high school students.

With these and so many other pieces of advice, high school has the potential to be a wonderful and exciting time. They do not refer to this time as rite of passage for nothing—it truly is that for everyone. When students frequently say, “High school sucks!” I remind them that it is SUPPOSED TO! It’s how you navigate and survive this time in your life that defines who you are—and that they are definitely not alone!