5 Tips to Help Your Teenager Succeed in School This Year

How do you help your teen?At the beginning of each school year, your kids have a chance for a fresh start. And you, their most important teacher, are key to their success. Here are five ways you can help them succeed:

1. Understand that teens are different. You're not parenting a seven-year-old. Your teen wants to be in charge of her time and choices, but she still has a lot to learn. You need to be on hand to help with skills like problem-solving and decision-making. That's help, not do it for her.

2. Give them time to decompress after school. One of the things a group of eighth grade girls said bugs them is when they are picked up from school and their parent (usually mom) immediately asks them about their day. They've just spent seven hours in school and would like to think about something else. So sit tight. If you play your cards right, information will be forthcoming.

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3. Encourage student-to-teacher communication. It's time for your teen to be his own advocate. This takes courage, and is an important life skill that will serve her well in the adult world.

If there's a problem with a grade, encourage her to talk to the teacher. Same thing if she needs extra help. She won't want mom and dad online with her registering for college courses, or calling the boss about a performance review. Now's the time to develop that skill.

4. Set preparation, routines, and limits reasonably. This goes for homework, sleep, social media/screen time, sports, lessons and socializing. You're not a prison warden, or standing there with a timer, but ... you know very well that there needs to be a balance. And, as the parent of a teen, it's time for brainstorming and compromise in some of these areas if you want to see any results.

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5. Focus on the big picture, too. With college in the back of your mind, you may be putting extraordinary attention on grades. Of course they are important, but that also sends the message that grades are the only things that count during middle and high school.

There's lots of life learning to do if your kids are going to be successful in college and beyond. Are they curious and courageous? Do they show concern for others? How responsible are they for themselves (from laundry to behavior)? They don't need to be at an Ivy League school in order to be successful.

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In the days when we worried about whether or not our son would even be accepted to college a wise person told us, "Don't worry about college. At this moment, he doesn't have what it takes to succeed in college anyway." That sounds harsh, but it was true, and we needed to hear it.

Go back to the basics. When their character is strong, the rest will follow.

Written by Fern Weis for YourTango.com.


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