How to adequately prepare your child for high school

Jul 20, 2015 at 10:41 a.m. ET
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Transitions can be difficult, and your student's switch from middle to high school is no different. To best prepare her for the new environment and expectations, try introducing a few changes at home. Here are several of the areas where middle school and high school may differ; keep these in mind while you prepare your student for the switch.


The older your student gets, the more difficult and plentiful the work will become. To help prepare for this, have your student try completing assignments before the due date. More homework in high school means more to accomplish each night; even if a math worksheet isn't due for a few days, there may be homework from other classes that also must be completed during that time. Help her get in the swing of things now by working on assignments as soon as they are assigned.


Your student will most likely be required to complete research papers in high school, with much of the work done outside of the classroom. Is she ready to look for reputable sources and find her own answers? Try remembering this when your child looks to you for help with a project or task. Whether she asks how far away Grandma's house is or wonders about how the U.S. Electoral College works, let your child look it up on her own. You are always there to make sure she finds the correct answer, but by letting her do the legwork you're helping her build research skills.

In addition to knowing how to find her own answers, be sure your child is ready to manage her own schedule. Try implementing a paper datebook into her routine, since electronics may not be allowed in all classrooms, so she can keep track of due dates, class schedules and exams.


In addition to having more work, the first bell may ring at a different time in high school than it did in middle school. A few weeks before summer ends, try having your child slowly adjust to these times, both the required wake-up time and the corresponding bedtime, to avoid having an exhausted teen on the first day of high school.


Look through your student's class listings and see if there are any differences in supplies than were previously required. If her middle school didn't have lockers, make sure she feels comfortable working her school and gym combination locks. Perhaps graphing calculators are new this year; buy one in advance so she can get the feel for how it works. By helping your student feel acquainted with new tools, you may increase her confidence so she enters these new challenges with her head held high.


Keep your child from inadvertently breaking a rule and read up on the high school's policy together. What is the dress code? Are backpacks allowed in class? Does a school ID need to be kept on the student at all times? The expectations and requirements may vary vastly from middle school.


From top grades to athletic endeavors, the competitive vibe of high school may be much stronger than that during middle school. Many students are preparing to compete for acceptance into selective colleges, which may make things like the high school student council election much more intense. Let your student know that awards, teams and classes may be more competitive now than they were in middle school, but that should not discourage her from trying.

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