As a both a college planning coach and the mom of two teens (a college student and a high school junior), I’ve learned a thing or two about how to navigate the high school years with my girls.
In the interest of helping you get through this time with your teens a little easier, I’m listing some of the major items that I wish someone had shared with me earlier on. Stuff that a little course would have been helpful for, or at least a heads up….
1| Help your teen reflect on passions.
We’re all on this earth for a short amount of time, and we’re all truly searching for our purpose. Even as adults, it can sometimes be tough to put our finger on exactly what we’re here to do. Or what makes us happiest.
Now think about our poor teenagers. We’re bombarding them with questions like, What do you want to do after high school? What will you major in? You HAVE considered how much money you can make in that job, haven’t you?
Whoa. Heavy questions for kids who still sometimes forget to brush their teeth.
Start on the lighter side with open-ended, thought-provoking questions – it’s the best way for your kid to do some reflecting. It will help him to understand more about who he is, which can be so empowering.
Use the questions on my What’s Your Passion? worksheet as conversation starters with your teen to get him thinking a little.
I promise your teen will be surprised about what he learns about himself.
2| Discuss activities that interest your teen.
Learning in high school isn’t only academics-based.
High schools offer loads of opportunities for students to engage in the fun stuff. Sports, clubs, volunteer or service activities…there’s bound to be one or a few things your teen would really be interested in pursuing.
This is where some major growth happens. Teens can explore and enhance their strengths, develop new skills, and have a chance to socialize on a different level with peers.
It’s a big character-building exercise, too. And…it promotes happiness. We all want to be involved in something we love.
Many students come to high school knowing exactly what they’re going to pursue. But certainly not all of them.
There was no question for my youngest daughter that she’d try out for the volleyball team, but my oldest wasn’t so sure. After some exploration and discussion, she decided to join the Green Team at her school. She found such satisfaction in the projects she helped create for the community, like building tiny homes for local homeless folks and designing a unique recycling bin that the city ended up purchasing hundreds of.
And you know as well as I do that the activities your teen is involved in can enhance college applications.
Download and share the Extracurricular Activities Ideas List & Tracker with your teen. This list gives hundreds of ideas for activities that might appeal to him, and it offers a place to keep track of activities and dates of participation in each. (Your teenager will need that when it comes to filling out the application.)
3| Encourage sleep.
So, teens need 8-10 hours of sleep every day for optimal brain and body function, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
And yes…you and I both know that’s close to impossible to promote during the school year.
(I hear you laughing.)
But I wish that I’d promoted better sleep practices with my girls earlier on, because those bad habits were pretty tough to change as time went on.
Sleep deprivation is kind of a big deal: It impairs memory and makes it harder to learn. Not to mention, sleep-deprived teen drivers are a hazard to themselves and others on the road.
When they’re going through puberty, teenagers’ internal clocks are a little…off. They don’t start creating melatonin (that sweet, sweet sleep hormone) until later in the evening, which means they naturally fall asleep later than is optimal for school to start the next day.
Teens essentially seem to live in a different time zone.
Teenagers who get enough sleep feel more alert and have more energy. They think more clearly and make better decisions. They will be happier and enjoy life more. And…they perform better in school.
So until we can get high schools to start classes later in the day, here are a few ways you can encourage your kid to get a little more sleep:
– Consistency is crucial.
Encourage your teen to go to bed at around the same time every night.
– Blue light from screens screws with melatonin production.
Limiting screen time is optimal, but I get it. You have a teenager.
Download f.lux, a free app for your teen’s laptop, that limits the amount of blue light that’s emitted according to what time of day it is.
– Make sugary or caffeinated food and drinks off limits after dinner.
Your teen may think it’ll help with finishing up that essay, but it can disturb the sleep that he could get after that work is done.
– Consider giving your teen a low dose of melatonin (2-3 mg).
It’s a non-prescription vitamin found at the drugstore, and it’s helpful if your teen has trouble getting to sleep. Taking it an hour before bed is ideal.
What other advice can you give to moms of high school teens? Leave a comment below!