Next week, our Jimmy starts his sophomore year. It’s so nice that he has one year in his back pocket and seems to have figured out how high school works.
Last year, I put together a set of tips I had for parents who had their first child going off to high school. I heard from a number of them that this post was helpful so I thought I would share it again.
Getting Jimmy ready for high school was so much easier because of my experience with my older kids. But it was less smooth with our oldest Grace. The whole idea of a public high school was new and kind of scary to me. All of my education, from kindergarten to graduate school, had been in Catholic schools, so a big high school (and LFHS isn’t even that big) was a whole new world. I remember when we got to Grace’s book pickup, I hadn’t checked the right box so we had to go back the next day to get the them. This wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t also not submitted her physical form before her first day of cross country tryouts and the coaches made her sit that day out. Ugh! Needless to say, there have been a few lessons learned.
Someone told me before Grace started high school that 98% of kids find their way once they get to high school. This has been true for us. No two of our kids have followed the same path. Grace did cross country and yearbook, Eddie did football and student government, Leo was sports and more sports, and Annie played tennis and volunteered with any program where little kids were involved. Now it’s fun to watch Jimmy blaze his own trail. He was mostly sports last year but I can already see his wheels turning about trying some new things as a sophomore.
Tips for Parents
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wish I knew when Grace was starting high school. Here are a few things:
- Let the kids advocate for themselves. Our local high school is a huge supporter of this. And it’s so great to be able to watch your kids take these steps towards adulthood while you’re still close enough by to catch them if you need to.
- Trust your kids until they give you reason not to. We were so strict with our oldest son who was always looking for the fun. I was terrified that he was going to get into trouble, so we kept him on a very short leash. This totally backfired and forced him to sneak around us in order to have a normal high school life. So again, trust your kids until they give you reason not to. This is a much better plan. (Thankfully our sweet boy turned out great in spite of me being so tough!)
- Volunteer where your kids are. What brings them joy will likely bring you joy, too. And you won’t believe how much you will get back, even if you can only volunteer a little bit of time.
- Go to as much of the high school fun as you can. It all goes so fast. When everything was shut down during Covid, I realized quickly how much I missed it. So as soon as the world opened up, I went to everything I could. Cheering for your kids and the kids of others is just so much fun!
- Give yourself grace. You’re going to make mistakes. But as long as your heart is in the right place and the best interest of your child is your guide, don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go perfectly.
Tips for Your Freshman
My kids went around the table at dinner one night and gave Jimmy this advice.
- Start strong. Get good grades from the beginning because freshmen year is a lot of review so it’s easier to do this. These good grades come in handy when the harder classes come along and you need a little padding in your GPA.
- You need just one good friend. You don’t need a whole group. One solid good friend is all you need in your corner.
- Play a sport. (Not hard to figure out who said this!) But coming from a small school, joining a fall sport or club was so good for my kids. Their worlds immediately got bigger!
- Invest yourself in something. Lean into your schoolwork, a sport, or an outside activity you care about.
I thought these were really good and balanced out the “don’t let mom talk you into clear braces,” “don’t spike your hair,” and “know where the clean bathrooms are.”
Additionally, Annie helped me put together a high school supply shopping list for Jimmy. Click here for her list.
I hope these are helpful. Our high school years have been some of our happiest as parents. I hope they are as well for you.