Remember those feelings of back-to-school jitters? Your first day of school in a new grade, new classroom, new schedules, and new and unfamiliar teachers and classmates.
For students starting high school, these back-to-school jitters take on a new dimension. 14-year-olds are now attending a school with other teens who are up to 18 years old! Imagine walking the hallways on the first day of high school -- the sheer height and size of the upperclassmen can make a 14-year-old feel quite intimidated.
Here are some tips to support your new freshman as he/she begins the first days as a high schooler:
- Visit the school. New freshmen can be overwhelmed by a feeling of anonymity, especially in a big school. If your child has never been there and if the school doesn’t have an orientation, go to the school with him if possible to get familiar with the building and layout so he feels more comfortable navigating the building.
- Learn about the school community. High school is a great opportunity for young people to learn more about themselves through getting involved with the school community. Encourage your new freshman to learn about clubs, cool electives and ways to get involved. Just as important to be aware of are academic advising and social emotional supports that are available at your child's high school.
- Walk in their shoes. Actually, your teen might be thinking a lot about shoes! Developmentally, your teen is thinking a lot about her image, her friends, what people think of her, and if she seems cool to others her age. “Who am I going to talk to? What if people think my outfit is lame? What if none of my friends are in my classes?” This can be quite overwhelming to your son or daughter in the context of starting at a new school.
- Let them know you’re there. As your child transforms before your eyes into an adolescent and starts his first day at high school, this can be an exciting and nerve-wracking milestone. At this very moment when you might want to be close to her, you might find your 14-year-old pushing away from you. This is totally normal for your teen to want some distance as she becomes more independent. However, it is still important for your new freshman to know you’re there if he or she ever needs you. Just saying, “I know starting at a new school can be intense, I’m here if you want to talk,” can be incredibly supportive, even if your teen decides not to take you up on the offer!