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Back to school time with your teenager

Back to school time, with your teenager

Hey parents of teenagers and pre-teens, I need your attention for the next couple of minutes because I am going to share some important information that can really affect your child's life. I know, we all know that choices we make have impact on our kids' lives, but sometimes as parents, we may feel like we need a survival guide more than them. Here is some great information adapted from University of Minnesota Extension and their program Teens and School Success.

School is a big part of your kids' life, as they spend about one third of their time in school. One of the biggest predictors of success in school is on how connected they feel to their school. Feeling connected can happen in many ways, but in essence, it means that they have a sense of belonging and feel close to people. This attachment can be with teachers, coaches, mentors or friends and is associated with reduced rates of alcohol, cigarette and marijuana use as well as lower rates of sexual activity, fewer attempts at suicide and lower levels of violent behavior. You as a parent also make a difference.

As kids get older, parents tend to become less involved, yet teenagers benefit when their parents show interest. Research shows that children do better in school and have attitudes that are more positive about school when their parents are involved in school life. You can show interest or get involved in many ways.

The first way to get involved is with communication. Keep in touch with your teen's teachers, coaches, band instructors, etc. Knowing the names of each teacher for each subject area is important. Take advantage of school open houses and attend parent-teacher conferences. Ask teachers specific questions about their expectations and what you can do to help support your child in their class. Build a partnership with the teachers so your child sees you working with teachers and staff, not against them.

The second way to get involved and show support is through student activities. Students become connected and committed to school by taking part in extracurricular activities and sports. Many kids find they have talents in areas outside the classroom and can really develop them through extra-curricular time. Encourage your child to try different activities until they find one that they enjoy. If your teen is already involved in one, show your support by attending their school events.

As a parent, expect success from your student. When parents set high expectations for their children, they are more likely to meet those expectations. When kids work towards their personal best in school, they are less likely to become depressed or involved in harmful behaviors. This does not mean to expect perfection; it just means to encourage them to give it their best at whatever they are doing. When teens' parents make school a priority, they are more likely to do well in school. Additionally, parents who expect kids to attend college or a trade school are more likely to do so.

Volunteer in the school or at school events. Do not be surprised if your teen is not too excited about this idea; however, schools often need chaperones for outings or help at extracurricular events. Parents can assist and show their interest in their childrens' activities by volunteering. You can ask your child how they feel about it before offering your assistance.

Both parents should be involved. Research shows that youth do better when both parents are involved in their school lives. Young people are more likely to get good grades, participate in extracurricular activities, and enjoy school if their fathers participate in their school life.

Here are some additional pointers for parents to help your teens and tweens through the school year:

  • Set high goals yet reasonable goals that they can work towards. Tell them that you believe in their abilities and that is why you expect success. Hard work and determination should be taught and emulated.
  • Recognize your child's accomplishments. Do not assume that because they are maturing that they do not want attention from you. Sometimes, teens are pressured to just do the minimum from their peers. You can offset that mindset by positive recognition.
  • Create a positive home environment that encourages learning. Make sure your child has a designated comfortable, well-lit place to study and do their homework.
  • Establish a nighttime routine for bedtime for a good night's rest. Teens are not adults and still need nine to nine and half hours of sleep. Most adolescents are sleep deprived due to school and social obligations. Also, limit screen time leading up to bedtimes.
  • Keep a family calendar that lists school events, projects and activities as well as family events to help pace school projects and so everyone is aware of school activities.
  • Know how and where your kids spend their free time and know your children's friends.

For more information:

National dropout prevention centers –

National Education Association –

National PTA -

Wishing you and your families a healthy school year ahead filled with lots of learning and growing experiences.

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