Sunday, August 05, 2012

A few tips for new high school parents

This is a summary of Mr. Weber’s talk to new high school parents, given at new parent orientation. 

Remember we’re partners.

It’s not a customer-vendor relationship—I don’t think that business metaphor accurately describes the unique role you play as parents and unique role we play as teachers. But one thing is clear—if this partnership is going to work well, we have to communicate well between us. So a few things about that:

Veracross—Our online grade program--you can check your child’s current grades at any time.

Read the "Knight Notes", an email sent home usually Tuesday afternoon or Wed morning that summarizes news and upcoming information you need to know. 

Become familiar with our web page, especially the calendar of events, school news, and the faculty/staff directory (book mark us on your smart phone for easy access to everything)

If you need to talk to a teacher, don’t hesitate to contact us—you can do that with either voice mail or email (email preferred).

You can expect to hear from us—not for every little thing that your child does wrong, but for the big things…or if a pattern of little things is beginning to develop.

Remember that raising kids is more of an art form than a science—knowing how soon to intervene when your child stumbles vs. letting him/her work through it themselves is tricky. When in doubt, talk it out.  If you’re not sure who to talk with, talk to your child’s advisor….he or she can find out information for you.

Help your child develop good study habits.

If your freshman child doesn’t seem to be doing somewhere around 90 minutes/homework a night, you should be concerned.

You’ll be meeting your child’s teachers on Thursday night, and they’ll talk about their HW requirements, so you can measure your child’s work output against what they say.

Getting into a HW routine is one of the big adjustments of HS—in some schools, it doesn’t count for much, but it really does here. 

If your child is NOT a reliable studier, I suggest some place other than the bedroom—there are too many distractions.  When our children were younger, we checked homework for quality, but teenagers despise that and I don’t recommend it.  Shift from being quality inspectors to environmental control experts.

Each child learns differently and has their own pace…some are slower, more careful. If your child seems to be doing much, much more than 90 minutes/night—3 hours/more, that’s probably too much, but seek out your child’s advisor and let us look into it.

Involvement is key, both for your child and you!

By school policy freshman must sign up for at least one extra-curricular.

Club “fair” day on Thursday—students will be introduced all possible extra-curriculars

Gently push your children toward participation in clubs and teams—don’t tell them what, but insist on something.  Diversify—if your kid is an athlete, great—but join something else, too. Part of our “renaissance goal” for students here. Child will be happier, friendships, makes life interesting.

Same for you! Booster Club, PTO, team parent—find someway to get involved. You’ll feel more connected, you’ll get to know the families your children are friends with, you’ll be happier.

Look around this room—likely that over 4 years, some of these people will become your best friends!

Be vigilant.

Lot of temptations for teenagers—especially alcohol…but with alcohol comes a whole host of other destructive behaviors. 

Know where your kids are and where they will be.  Ask the question: are there parents home? On occasion, call the other parents to verify--unpredictability on your part is good. (Worried about calling another parent? An enterprising parent I once knew called the parents of the house their child was going to and asked if her child could “bring anything?--cokes, chips, etc. )

Establish the inviolable principle: If I call you on the cell phone, you better answer it (used to say if I called twice and you didn’t answer either time, the cell phone was mine for a week—a killer!). And I recommend calling once just to check in.  Texting doesn’t count.

Establish curfews. Be up when your children get home….

Know that even the best kids can be tempted to do stupid things—yes, even your child. Through my oldest son’s junior year I was feeling pretty good about the job I had done with him –NHS kid, president of student body, QB of the football team—until one night he came home stone cold drunk, having DRIVEN home.  Don’t be the parent that says “my kid would never do such a thing.” Teenagers have a way of humbling us.  

Keep the long view

In four years, you want your child to be a healthy, confident, happy and GOOD young man or woman, a person of faith, ready for college, ready to stand on his or her own feet. That’s a process—and if we’re doing our job, there’s going to be some angst, there’s going to be some disappointment, perhaps even some frustration.

Talk to teachers if you’re worried, but don’t get on that same roller coaster of ups/downs that your teenager is going through. The school and its teachers are your allies. 

Let us speak well of each other and remember that kids are master embellishers. As a friend of mine used to say: “I promise to only believe 50% of what your children say about you is true, if you promise to only believe 50% of what they say about us. “ When in doubt, talk it out. Email us. Call us. We’re here for you.

May God bless us in this magnificent adventure we begin together. 

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