NEA Parents' Resources

Help Your Teen Thrive in High School

Studies show that parent involvement in students’ school lives drops off dramatically as students move from elementary school into middle and high school. And that’s probably exactly what your student wants at that age (you remember being a teenager).

But this is the wrong approach. High school is exactly when your student needs your engagement most. As high school gets more complex, parental involvement is becoming more and more important for success.

A Home Environment for Success

Plenty of learning happens in the home—that’s why they call it “homework.” But what can you, as a parent, do to make a home environment best suited for your student?

Most critical is making sure they get plenty of sleep. Studies show that teenagers need nine or more hours of sleep a night. Also, students that earn A’s and B’s generally go to bed earlier than those that don’t.

When they are awake, make sure your student has a quiet place to study without distractions. And yes, distractions include their TV and phone.

You can also take an active role in helping them track toward assignment and goals.

If they have a big project, for example, work with your student to divide it into smaller tasks with specific deadlines. Help them organize the materials they need for their projects, and maintain a calendar for short- and long-term work.

This doesn’t just teach skills for high school success, but these will be great habits for their professional career too.

Other Actions You Can Take

In addition to making a supportive home environment, there are extra steps you can take to support your student’s high school success:

  • Keep an eye on your student’s grades and attendance. They can’t succeed if they aren’t there. This is especially important senior year of high school, which many students think isn’t important. This “senior slump” can leave students unprepared for college-level work.
  • Talk to your student about what they’re studying. You may not understand physics or early American literature, but letting them talk about it helps cement the information in their brain.
  • Ask what’s happening outside of school. It can be harder to stay engaged in school if they’re dealing with problems with other students. You can be a resource for your student, or point them to one. Also putting their problems into words can help them find solutions and coping strategies.
  • Get your student involved in a school club or after-school activity. Having something to do at the school that isn’t just schoolwork can help keep your student engaged.

The goal is to have a high school student who is self-sufficient and motivated to learn, but not all students can get there right away. With these tips, you can be an active participant in getting to that goal.

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