Raising Successful Teens

Help Your Teen Do Well in High School

Some students seem to sail through high school with few academic problems, while others seem disorganized, distracted and unable to keep up with their school work and other activities. Many parents become frustrated with their less successful offspring, attempting to yell at them or bribe them to get better grades. Rarely do these techniques work, leaving both the parents and teens feeling discouraged and frustrated. What are some skills for high school success that parents can use themselves or teach to their teens?

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Parenting Skills that Promote High School Success

Parents are a child's most important teacher. Unfortunately, many parents don't realize that, and believe that the school is going to teach their child everything that they will need to know to succeed in life. As a high school educator, I know that this is not true, and is becoming even less true as high school classes become larger and less time is spent with individual students. What are some of the parenting skills that will help children succeed in school?

First, spend week night evenings, as much as possible, in tranquil togetherness.  Spend time preparing meals together, eating together, and chatting.  Do not bring up topics that could cause stress, anger or unhappiness at mealtime.  For example, don’t ask your kids why they think they missed that goal at their last soccer game, why they broke up with their boyfriend, or why they did poorly on their last test.  Instead, ask them about their thoughts!  For example, ask open ended questions such as “What do you think about those demonstrators we drove by today?” or “What do you think about the money the school district is spending to build a new gym at your school?”  Don’t ask a lot of questions about far away places or vague political situations that they are unlikely to know about or understand.

 Next, listen to your kids.  Whatever their opinion, let them know that they are entitled to it.  Be respectful.  Even if they say something you think is crazy, such as, “I think they should build a skateboard park at school rather than a new gym,” listen to them patiently.  Tell them that they have an interesting idea, and you had never thought about it from that viewpoint before.  Kids who feel as if they are listened to, and respected, are going to do better in school.

Then, spend some quiet time after dinner helping your kids with their homework.  Don’t get me wrong.  They should be able to do most of their homework on their own, without your help or interference.  However, if you all sit in the same room together, reading, studying, or working on the computer, your kids will be accustomed to working independently in a room where they are surrounded by other people.  They will also have you nearby where they can ask questions or get your opinion when they want it.  They will feel as though you are interested in what they are doing.  In addition, you will be able to make sure they are actually doing their school work, and not playing video games or goofing off.  They’ll get their chance to do that.  Once the work is completed, give them some free time to relax, watch TV, or call friends.

 Finally, make sure your teens get to bed at a reasonable time, and check on them.  I constantly see teens sleeping in class who tell me that they were up until 2:00 am playing on their computer or texting with their friends.  Do what you can to see to it that your teens gets eight or more hours of sleep every night.

There are some specific study skills that will help you student, too.  You can get a broad overview below.  For more specific ideas, you may want to use this quick link to Amazon.com to get the book "Getting to A+: Breakthrough Study Skills for High School Students."

Student Skills that Promote High School Success

Once you have done your part, your high school student will feel more confident and capable of doing their part to succeed in high school.  According to FamilyEducation.com, here are some of the skills that high-school students need to learn in order to succeed:

 Time Management:  Teens need to learn to use a daily planner, and parents should help them fill in all the spots in their planner that are already taken up with family time, study time, school time, sporting events, and other activities.  Let the kids know that they are free to choose how to spend the remaining time, as long as they follow family rules and expectations.

Study Habits:  High School students that succeed have learned to take their education seriously.  They attend their classes faithfully, turn in homework on time, and spend a few minutes each evening reviewing what they learned that day, so that they are prepared for tests.

Learning to Pay Attention:  This can be a touchy subject for some families, because the biggest issue I have noticed in high schools in the last few years is the problem of electronic devices that distract the students.  Kids will slip their smart phone or MP3 player into their pocket, run their earphone wire up through their clothing, and slip the earbud into their ears.  In a classroom of 30 – 40 students, this is difficult to monitor.  However, the result is that teens often have no idea whatsoever what the teacher is saying.  I have even walked past desks where the student has discreetly attempted to hide their phones in the clear pocket in their notebook, or inside an open backpack or purse.  Instead of doing their class work, they are calmly watching a movie or even a rather inappropriate music video.  This behavior has created serious educational problems for more than one otherwise capable high school student!

If parents and teens practice good home study skills, and teens behave in a responsible and mature manner while they are at school, nearly every teen can have a successful high school career!

If you are interested in reading more about health and safety for teens, you may be interested in the articles listed below:

Loving the Addicted Teen

Finding Help for your Troubled Teen

Teenage Boys and Anabolic Steroids

Why Worry About Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Teens

Teach Your Teen about HIV and AIDS

Here's a Book to Help Your Teen Achieve Their Best

Getting to A +: Breakthrough Study Skills for High School Students
Amazon Price: $9.95 $7.91 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 21, 2014)
Kids are not born knowing how to succeed in school. They need to be taught, and parents are the best ones to teach them.