By Erica Patino
Whether starting high school or returning to it, teens might be nervous about the new school year. If your child with learning and attention issues is fearful about the academic and social pressures ahead, try these tips.
Visit the school before the year starts. Help her map out where her classes and locker are. If she has trouble managing her time, practice walking from one class to the next, with a stop at her locker in between. (Many high schools have a day set aside for this purpose and also have freshmen orientations.) Older teens may find it helpful to go over their new schedule and the syllabi (if available) with a parent and discuss how to organize their time.
Remind your teen that everyone feels nervous about starting a new year of school. Reassure her that having a few good friends she can count on is more important than being in the “popular” clique. Help her find her “place to belong” in organized groups. Perhaps she can sign up for one or two extracurricular activities at school, volunteer at church or join a theater group in town.
Schedule a meeting with a guidance counselor two to three weeks before school starts. If a guidance counselor is unavailable, you may want to meet with your child’s homeroom teacher, special education teacher or case manager. Talk about challenges your teen had during the previous year and what might help her address them going forward. Ask what teachers she’ll have and what their teaching styles are like. If your child has an IEP, go over it and make sure everyone (including your child) understands what her accommodations are. Encourage your teen to ask questions, too.
High school is a time when teens might be experimenting with cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol and more. Students might also have boyfriends and girlfriends and start to be sexually active. Your child may not tell you everything, but if she feels she can trust you, she may be less likely to make risky decisions. Try to eat dinner together at least a few nights a week. It can build tradition and open the door to conversation.
As your child moves up in high school, grades begin to matter more. Eventually, talk turns to SATs and college. This can be particularly stressful for a teen with learning and attention issues who may not be on the same path as her peers. Take time before the year starts to talk openly with your teen. If she has an IEP, use the transition planning process to help her clarify her goals and develop a strategy to achieve them. Your child may find it a better fit to ease into college by attending a community college, for instance. Remind her that high school is not about keeping up. It’s about working her hardest and forging her own path to success.
Starting a new school year can make any middle-schooler nervous. The social and academic pressures can be especially daunting for kids with learning and attention issues. Here are tips to help you calm your child’s fears.
As the first day of school approaches, kids with learning and attention issues may feel a bit nervous. Here are some tips that can help keep everyone calm.
Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.
Jenn Osen-Foss, M.A.T., is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions and co-planning.
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