Whether you’ve got one child you’re hoping to guide through the education process or several children at different stages, you probably want to do what you can to participate in your kid’s learning. That looks different at different stages. Ideally, your child’s teachers will work with you to help you determine what is appropriate, but this too will vary among children and families, and it can be helpful to know what to do at these stages. If your children are already teens or headed to college, it’s not too late to get involved.
Preparing for College
There’s an extra element to the high school years, which is getting ready for college. Whether or not you have attended college yourself, you can do a lot to help your teen prepare. First, talk to them about what they might want to study, not in a high-pressure way but just to get them thinking about what they might major in since this could affect where they choose to go. Help them research schools and put together a plan for filling out applications. At a minimum, it’s generally a good idea to apply to both a dream school and a safe school. One of the big things you can do to help is by applying for a low-rate Private Parent Loan. Even parents who are able to save some money for their child’s education often find that they do not have enough given the rising costs, and a private loan can be a great way to help your child and reduce the amount of debt to carry after graduation.
Helping your child sometimes means stepping back, and you’ll want to do more of this in the high school years. They need to start working independently, and if this means that they do poorly on a project or a test, you really do have to let them see the consequences of their own actions. You absolutely can help them if they need it, for example, show them the best educational platforms and resources to get their work done, but it needs to be assistance, not “do my project for me.” Do stay engaged in what they tell you about the school, meet their teachers, and keep going to extracurricular activities.
Junior High, or the Tween Years
Whether it’s called middle school, junior high or your school system simply goes from elementary to high school, the years around 7th and 8th grade can be tough transition times for both academic and developmental reasons. This might be the most crucial time for parental involvement, and if your child is facing bullying or other problems at school, don’t hesitate to step in and speak with teachers or administrators.
You can set the stage for your child’s attitude toward school by conveying the idea that learning is fun. That doesn’t mean they have to love every multiplication table or spelling list that they memorize, but it does mean that keeping this a low-pressure time while still encouraging your kid and helping them pursue their interests is important. Make sure you attend all parent-teacher meetings. Your kid at this age may need a lot of hands-on help with homework and developing good study habits.