Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back To School - High Schoolers

Whether you have a "minor niner" starting high school or one entering into Grade 12, high school is four years of your child's life, that are some of the most emotional, difficult and overwhelming years.

Grade 9

The "Minor Niners" year.  Do you remember the feeling of walking into the large high school, feeling completely lost and nervous about where you locker is, how to find your classroom, where the cafeteria is, if you'd be picked on by an older student?  Those feelings are still around today for new ninth graders, but with a lot more concerning issues, like bullying, fitting in, sexual orientation and more.

One of the easiest ways for a ninth grader to get started, is to stick with someone they know.  Often, students will venture into a high school with someone they've already been going to school with for most or at least part of their lives.  Strength in numbers!  Your student will be able to have that friend closeby for assistance, or even just to have someone to talk to, as they meet new friends.

Ensuring that your child is safe & happy is one of the most logical concerns a parent can have.  Does the school have a zero tolerance for bullying?  Is your child someone who is friendly to everyone, or are they a potential bully themselves?  Are they involved in clubs or sports?  These are all excellent questions to keep in mind and to talk to you kids about.

Grade 10 

Not at the bottom of the food chain anymore, but not at the very top either.  Students in grade 10 are starting to know what they like and what they don't when it comes to subjects, and will definitely have a few choices for classes and electives.  Sitting down with your student to hash out details of each class together is a great way to learn more about what your high schooler is loving, and ensuring that they are meeting the school's requirements for graduation in a couple of years.  

All of the same concerns listed above can follow your child through their high school career.  Don't assume all of that ends in the 9th grade.

Grade 11

Your student is at the time in their high school career where they are going to be starting to think of post-secondary school or a career.  Now is an excellent time to listen to their hopes for their future, and how you can help them get there.   There comes a bit more expectation and pressure in the 11th grade, with making sure they stay on top of their studies to ensure good grades for college or university.  

This is also one of the times in your students life, where they're falling in love for the first time.  You may think "Oh she/he is just too young to feel that way!" but truth be told, we all had a first love in high school, and if you are honest with yourself, you'll remember the feelings that come with it.  Having the good old "Safe Sex" conversation with your child when they are in their first serious relationship can help you (and them) be more prepared for what can happen.  You'll most likely get a lot of eyerolling and the "Mommmmmm" or "Daaaaaaaaad" "I knoooooooowwwww", but believe me, they will care that you took the time to talk to them.  They will have their hearts broken, and there will be tears, so letting them know you are there, no matter what happens, will help them through tough times.

Grade 12

Top of the totem pole!  College, university or the work world are steps away from your almost graduate.  Finishing up missing credits, college applications, resume building - it's a very, VERY stressful time for your student.  You will invariably see changes in your child's demeanor, so taking time to sit down and talk about everything will help you both through it. 

Now is also the time where your student is just on the brink of being legal age (if in Ontario) and there will be parties, and dances, and more parties, and prom.  Taking time to talk about their responsibilities as a young adult are key, and setting ground rules.  They'll most likely be driving out late with friends now, so talking about being safe while driving to avoid tragedy is a must.

At the end of the day, ensuring that you are understanding and willing to listen to your student's anxiety, stress, depression, happy time, excitable moments, proms, dances, math tests, broken hearts, biology experiments gone awry, and simply being there for your student, is the most important thing. 

Students will be going through a slew of emotions over these 4 years and can easily pick up the phone and call the Distress Centre.  It's free, confidential, and while you may not necessarily know that they've called us, you can rest assured that our fully trained volunteers are here to provide support and listen.  Put our number in the hands of your student before this school year starts, and together we can get through another school year!  613-238-3311 - any time of day or night, we're here.

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