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5 Tips to get your teen ready for school

Summer is like a rubber band. Your teen wants to stretch it out as far as possible — for you, it’s about to snap. No matter how much your teen might not want to talk about school, what’s coming is definitely on his or her mind — and yours.

Teen at school texting

You can reduce back-to-school stress for both of you by following these steps to get your teen READY.

Contributed by Ben Bernstein, Ph.D., author of A Teen’s Guide to Success

R=Reflect on the last year

Recall successes (“You spoke up in English class and your teacher gave you a higher grade.”) and consider changes (“A better study plan for exams will mean more sleep!”). You’re not saying who’s right and wrong — you simply want to build on your teen’s experience.

E=Expect what’s coming

Each grade has its own calendar. For example, eighth graders have high school visits and applications, juniors will be taking SATs or ACTs, and seniors need to schedule college interviews and applications. What events are in store for your teen? Mark the important ones on your calendar.

A=Anticipate academic and social challenges

What courses may require special attention? Research possible resources, such as free material on the internet, peer mentoring programs at school or tutors in your community. What social groups can your teen join? Talk about where your teen will feel accepted and be able to make a contribution.

D=Determine guidelines and ground rules

Consider possible conflicts that might arise and discuss them openly. How much media time is acceptable during the week and on weekends? Will your teen receive an allowance? What are your expectations around household chores? Will your teen have access to the car? Working these issues out now can go a long way to reducing stress when school gets rolling.

Y=Yearn for next summer

Spending some time imagining next summer can help alleviate the pain of this summer coming to a close. Ask your teen what he or she would love to do next year. Planting this seed will reduce the feeling that school goes on forever. It doesn’t. Next summer is only ten months away!

Talk with your teen about these things together in any order, and preferably not all at once. Go for a walk together, get an ice cream or take a drive. Value your end-of-summer days with your teen by considering what’s coming. By doing so, you’re showing that you care.

About the author:

Ben Bernstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, educator and performance coach. Author of A Teen’s Guide to Success, and Test Success! he maintains a private practice in the San Francisco Bay area. For more, visit

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