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Give Your High School Student the Best Chance at Success in School this Fall

High school as we know it could be radically different this fall. Help your student navigate those changes with confidence using these strategies.

Note: This is the third post in a 5-part series of conversations parents can have with their students from college-bound to elementary school to help them prepare for school success this fall. Read the first post for Parents here. Read the College-Bound Students post here.

As a former high school educator and current education coach for college and high school students I can honestly say I have never seen the education journey of our students so disrupted. Fall has always meant school starting with back-to-school shopping and excitement over who was in each other's classes. The start of school each year was the one constant in life our students could all count on. Not anymore.

It's one thing for us as parents to try and figure out how to navigate all the unknowns of school openings (or not) this coming fall. But our high school students may not have the reasoning skills or even full understanding of what's happening to make those decisions, leaving them feeling anxious, unsettled, and even unmotivated about their education this fall.

The high school students I work with are looking forward to school starting up this fall, but are hearing rumors of masks being required, plexiglass barriers, and A/B day schedules and are anxious about whether or not they will get to see friends, have any of the usual freedoms at school, and if they will have to go back to virtual schooling. Overall they are feeling apathetic toward school, believing it may be more prison-like than they feel it already is.

Students with disabilities are having the hardest time overall. From language barriers to emotional nuances to mental and physical limitations these students, who usually receive special services, are already struggling as are their parents without the usual support and structure necessary to helping them succeed.

Additionally, students in poverty are struggling with barriers to technology (no internet, no computer) in addition to other barriers like hunger and isolation.

It's clear that the changes to education as usual that we have experienced can have devastating effects on our students. What isn't clear is what things will look like this fall.

While students at all levels of schooling are experiencing disruption, this post will focus on how to help your high school student achieve success no matter what school looks like this fall. I will post strategies to help your Middle School and Elementary student in later posts this month. (To get more posts like this delivered to your email inbox, please sign up in the top right-hand corner.)

The conversation you need to have with your High School student.

If you have a high school student, they have watched the losses this past senior class experienced. They are wondering if they will lose their senior year, whether or not they will get to play sports, and if high school will be any fun at all. Here are a few suggested questions to begin discussing to help your high school student achieve academic and personal success this fall

  1. What changes does your student need to make to be successful with virtual schooling this fall? We entered into crisis schooling at home when the pandemic hit. Looking ahead to this fall we now understand the challenges of trying to do school at home. What does your student need to change so they can be successful?

  2. What will their virtual school-day schedule be like? Routine is essential for students. Clearly established guidelines, that are enforced with consequences and rewards, are essential to keeping students aligned with their responsibilities. Together establish a daily schedule as well as consequences and rewards before the school year starts.

  3. What are their fears and concerns and frustrations about the coming school year? Many students need help processing the complex emotions they experience daily without the added weight of a pandemic. Try to get your student on a bike ride, walk, building something, or engaging in another minor activity and begin to ask some questions about how they are perceiving all that is going on around them.

  4. How will success be determined this fall? With the normal parameters of school in possible jeopardy, knowing what success looks like will be harder to define. Will it look like getting all work done on time for that struggling student? A higher grade in a particular subject? Making space to study and prepare for the ACT/SAT? Take some time to discuss your students perceptions of success and create a pathway to get there.

  5. What ground rules need to be established? You may not be able to be home while your student is supposed to be completing school assignments and possible ZOOM/Goggle Hangout calls with her teachers. What rules do you and your student need to establish so work gets accomplished?

  6. What will physical activity consist of? If you have a student-athlete and school goes virtual, sports will be cancelled as well. What routines need to be in place so your student-athlete's performance doesn't suffer should their sport get moved to the spring or re-established before the end of the year?

  7. How will you handle a hybrid scenario? There is still a chance we will have school in place this fall, but there may be changes to how many days your student actually goes to school and virtual days may still be in play. What would success look like in a hybrid scenario?

I know how hard it is to try to plan with so many variables in play. I have a college-bound student and we are having our own versions of these types of conversations. The key is to start the conversations, look at the possibilities together, and create pathways for success for each scenario you believe is possible. Then, trust the process to continue as you get new information.

While no one knows for sure what college will look like this fall, being prepared can help make any transition go smoothly. I hope these questions get you started on healthy conversations with your student. If you would like some help preparing or even discussing different questions tailored to your circumstances, please reach out and schedule a free, no obligation, 30 min. Fall School Strategy Session Call.

Join the Conversation: What messages about school in the fall are you getting from your principal?


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