High school can be a stressful time for teens, whether or not they have learning and attention issues. The academic demands increase and grades becomes more important, especially if your child is heading to college. Here are some of the challenges your child may face.
More Juggling and Less Time
In high school, kids need to juggle more than they’ve ever had to. Midterms and finals, multiple assignments with the same deadline, getting from class to class on time—it’s a lot to plan for. Having afterschool activities or a job makes it even more complicated.
You can help your child learn how to manage time to keep herself on track. Show her how to use a day planner. You can also help her figure out how long it will take her to complete assignments.
More to Study and Keep Organized
With an increase in homework and tests, high-schoolers need to have strong study skills—even more than they did in middle school. They also need to be prepared for every class. That means bringing the right materials and handing in completed homework on time for each one.
You may need to step in and help your child develop strategies for keeping on top of things. You can review her daily planner with her and help her decide how to tackle her homework. Should she finish work that’s due tomorrow before studying for a test that’s a week away? Help her get in the habit of getting her backpack organized at night for the following day.
An Increase in Note-Taking
To be able to study well, high-schoolers need good notes about what happened in class. But teens with learning and attention issues may struggle with taking notes. They may not be sure what they need to write down. Or they may struggle to keep up with what the teacher is saying.
There are many note-taking strategies you can try with your child at home. There are also accommodations your child may get at school if she has an IEP or 504 plan.
These might include copies of the teacher’s notes and lesson plans or guided notes that are partially filled in. You can also look into assistive technology such as note-taking or speech-to-text software.
If your child doesn’t get special education services, you or she can ask the teacher if there are any informal accommodations that might help. That might include teacher’s notes or study guides.
Needing to Self-Advocate
Asking questions, seeking help and speaking up about needs—these are some of the key life skills known as self-advocacy.
In high school kids are expected to acknowledge and discuss their issues. They’re also expected to start asking for and getting the help they need on their own. Being able to do those things can help them feel more confident and less overwhelmed. It’s also good preparation for life after high school.
“In high school, kids are expected to start asking for and getting the help they need on their own.”
Let your child know it’s OK to ask the teacher questions if she doesn’t understand an assignment, lesson or lecture. Or ask for an extension on an assignment. If she has an IEP or 504 plan she may have to remind her teacher about it.
One way to help your child is to role-play having these conversations. Talk about the importance of saying “please” and “thank you” when asking for help. You can also remind her that it’s rude to interrupt class to ask a question or argue with the teacher. Plus, it won’t help her make her point.
Needing to Stick With It
In high school, there will probably be some subjects kids are more interested in than others. But even if they don’t enjoy a subject or care for the teacher, they still need to go to class and complete their work. That’s part of becoming an adult.
“Even if they don’t enjoy a class or care for the teacher, they still need to go to class and complete their work. That’s part of becoming an adult.”
Afterschool activities can complicate things. On the one hand, they’re a great way for teens to make friends and nurture interests. But because they take up time, they also provide an easy way to avoid doing work that is difficult or boring.
You may need to remind your child that she’ll still need to complete her schoolwork even when her other activities take up time. And even if she’d rather focus on them than on classes that she doesn’t like or has trouble with.
High school can be an exciting but challenging time. By staying in the loop with your child and her teachers, you can help her master her challenges.