I think it’s fascinating that no matter how old you are the first day of high school can still bring up so many strong emotions from places that we forget existed. It has been many years since I walked through the doors of a high school as a student, yet every time I do, even in my professional career, I can feel a rumbling of the insecurity and stress that I felt all those years ago. (Check out this article written by a local student that describes her experience as she starts high school for the first time.)
I know school has already been going for about a month now, but not too long ago, I had the privilege of meeting with a group of parents at a local high school whose teens were starting their first day of Grade 9. I was so impressed to see the number of parents who were able to take time out of their day to learn about what they can do to support their teens through high school. Little did they know, they were already headed down the right path.
If this is your first time parenting a teen through high school, it can be just as overwhelming for you as it is for your son or daughter. You may feel like you are entering a new world and it is difficult to know where you fit in. One thing you know for sure is that your role as a parent of a teen is rapidly changing from what it was when your child was in elementary school. Here’s the good news, there is one very important part of parenting that will remain consistent through this period. And that is being involved in your teen’s school.
Parent involvement in their teen’s high school experience is proven to help protect teens from negative behaviours (smoking, drugs, poor self esteem) and to promote positive outcomes (academic and social success).
Now let’s get real, I’m not talking about becoming the chair of the school council or chaperoning every field trip. Simply showing up for parent/teacher interviews or attending sporting events, school plays and recognition nights can have a wonderful impact on your teen and their success in school. By doing this you are showing them that their education is important to you and that you are interested in their world outside your home. School is the place where your teen is finding out who they are and who they want to be—what a gift it is to be a part of that.
The positive impact of parent involvement in their teen’s high school is also recognized by Ontario’s Ministry of Education. Earlier this year, the Ministry developed a new parent engagement policy called Parents in Partnership to help schools and communities become more parent-friendly. Have a look when you have a chance.
For those who may not be comfortable approaching your teen’s school to get involved, or if your teen has completely forbidden you from stepping foot on school property, there are many ways that you can stay connected and involved in their lives outside of the school building.
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Meghann Foley, RN