Starting high school is an exciting event in a child’s life, but it can also be a daunting transition. Unlike the move from one middle school grade to the next, this transition can mean a whole new school building, new teachers, new classmates, and notably more challenging material. We’re here to help with the transition from middle school to high school with tips for students and their parents.
1. Set a Routine
As students become more independent, time management can be one of the biggest challenges and one of the most crucial skills they learn. Middle school students may be used to their parents telling them when to go to bed, waking them up in the morning, and overseeing their homework to make sure it gets done. High school students are expected to be more self-reliant.
Help your child create their routine for a typical week. Subtle changes like having your child set their own alarm rather than waking them in the mornings can help them learn to manage their own schedule. Learning how to follow a routine on their own can help students tremendously when they’re in college or working a job.
2. Combat Procrastination
Another aspect of successfully managing time is avoiding procrastination. A sizable body of research makes two things clear — procrastination is problematic, and it runs rampant among students. It’s best to help students establish positive time management habits now so they can enjoy lower stress levels and higher grades throughout the remainder of their educational careers.
Encourage your child to complete work before it’s due, effectively creating their own soft deadline before the real ones. They can also combat procrastination by breaking larger assignments into chunks and setting their own deadlines for completing each piece.
3. Stay in Contact With Friends
Sometimes a transition from middle school to high school means disrupting supportive relationships. One study found that this disruption can negatively impact an adolescent’s socioemotional well-being and can lead to lower academic engagement.
Relationships with others can make even the most challenging experiences more positive. Make sure your child maintains positive and supportive friendships, even if they no longer share the same classes with friends. If your child is moving to a new school district, encourage them to stay in contact with their friends back home and former teachers so they can share updates on their experiences at their new school. Family members may also provide companionship and support to help your child adjust to high school.
4. Make New Friends
In addition to maintaining existing friendships, it’s a great idea to make some new friends. Encourage your child to introduce themselves to other kids in their classes. In high school, students can meet others with similar interests through elective courses, such as STEM, music, and languages. These present perfect opportunities to make new friends and build relationships through shared passions. You can also help them make friends by allowing them to have classmates over to hang out after school. An active social life can keep kids happy, and the friendships they form in high school can last a lifetime.
5. Stay Organized
Organization skills are critical in everyday life — including in high school — and middle schoolers likely have some room to grow in this area. Work with your child to create the organization systems they need for success. This might include, for example:
- A daily planner for writing down activities and assignments
- A backpack with pockets for all their school supplies
- A binder or set of notebooks where they can keep organized class notes
6. Try New Opportunities
High school comes with some new challenges, but it also offers some exciting new opportunities. Rather than displaying nervousness about the transition, lead the way for your child with a sense of enthusiasm.
Encourage them to explore new possibilities and try new things. This may mean trying a new hobby or activity, like chess, or joining a book club even if they don’t consider themselves an avid reader. High school is the perfect time to expand their horizons.
7. Set Goals
An important piece of advice for middle school students going to high school is to set goals. Goal-setting is a helpful practice for everyone, so this can be a great area for you and your child to work on together. Model for them what goal-setting looks like by establishing and sharing a few short-term and long-term goals you want to achieve. Try to make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) rather than vague.
Help your child make similar goals for themselves so they can start this new chapter with a can-do attitude. One expert recommends students write down goals for eight different areas of their lives, with academics being just one. This can help students think holistically about their own success and well-being.
8. Think About the Future
Students may feel overwhelmed by the current changes they’re facing with their transition to high school, and it can help to think long-term. Help your child think through the future they’re working toward. Ask them whether they’re interested in college and if any careers appeal especially to them. Having an idea of the path your child wants to pursue after high school can help you make informed decisions together to prepare your child for their future.
9. Practice Self-Care
Mental health should be a point of focus for your family as your adolescent enters high school. Depression and other mental health conditions are on the rise for U.S. teens. Issues like academic and peer pressure can take a toll on young people. Help your child bolster their mental health by talking freely about some of the challenges that can arise during this season of their life and sharing healthy ways to overcome those challenges.
For example, journaling can be an excellent way for your child to process their emotions. They might also try breaking up schoolwork with creative pursuits they enjoy. Encourage your child to stick to a healthy bedtime routine so they get all the rest they need — for a teenager, that’s 8-10 hours of sleep per day.
10. Join an Extracurricular Activity
In addition to the classes your child takes, think about the extracurriculars they will be involved in. Find a list of the clubs and activities your school offers and see which ones interest your child. Maybe they want to join a gaming and computer club, an art club, or try out for a sports team.
Students don’t need to limit their selection to school activities. See what opportunities are available in your community. Maybe your ninth grader wants to audition for a community theater production or join a local recreational soccer league.
What to Know About CCA’s Club and Activity Opportunities
At Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA), we believe in supporting learners in every aspect of their school experience. That goes beyond academics to include a wide range of extracurriculars. In fact, students will find a club or activity for nearly any interest they might have. This may come as a surprise if your family has never tried cyber school. Often, families wonder how their children can participate in clubs and activities when they attend school online.
We combine the benefits of virtual learning with the social benefits of in-person school programs through our focus on extracurriculars. Clubs meet virtually or in-person at regional Family Service Centers throughout Pennsylvania. Your child can join multiple clubs and can even request to start a new one if they wish. As with students’ academics at CCA, their extracurricular experience is tailored to them.
Experience Commonwealth Charter Academy’s Extracurricular Programs
Starting high school is exciting and maybe a bit nerve-wracking. You can empower your child to enjoy a great freshman year by following the tips we’ve shared. Overall, parents can help by supporting their child’s growing independence and total well-being. Help your child get excited about this new chapter, and encourage them to get involved in some extracurricular programs. Contact us today to learn more about CCA’s club and activity opportunities for online students.