High school flies by fast. You look at your student in the first few weeks of freshman year and they look so small and lost. In a few years you’re looking at colleges and sometimes thinking we should have started this sooner! When I breathed a sigh of relief last March as my daughter received acceptances and scholarships and made her big college decision, I immediately turned to my son and said, “Now we start working on you!” He’s three years younger.
I believe the organizing challenge with high school students is getting them to see the big picture. They are concerned with fitting in socially, and maybe even doing well in each of their classes but they often don’t look to the future. It’s too scary. They don’t want to think about leaving home, moving away from their childhood friends and, god-forbid, deciding on a career! And can you blame them?
So you’ve got to ease them into it by setting goals and managing their time. Goal setting is a great place to start with organizing your time. I worked with each of my kids in high school to set three goals. One was academic, one physical and one was to help them grow as an individual. Then we broke down each of those goals into daily practices or tasks. For example:
Goal: Get a 94 general average this semester.
How: complete all homework assignments
Study in advance for tests
Ask for help in subjects where I need it
In addition, that academic goal might qualify your student for Renaissance or National Honor Society, which does look good on the college application!
For some kids who are naturally driven a goal might come out as an inspiration like, “When I’m a senior I want to be Student Council President or Captain of the Baseball team.” That’s great, and then they have to do little things along the way to get there like become active in school, or practice their sport. It’s still a good idea to write it down and post those goals where they can see them every day. It’s just a subliminal reminder of where they are headed.
After you set the goals – check in with your student frequently to make sure they are following through, but be careful not to nag. It’s a fine line. When a goal has been accomplished, celebrate and then set new ones!
Every child is different and if you have a child that is over-involved, your goals might really work as a priority list. So when they have to make decision about how to spend their time, have them refer to the list. If you have a student who seems to waste time playing video games and on social media, you’re going to have to push them to set goals and find interests that matter.
Consider this: What do you need to get your high school student into college?
- good grades
- a consistent activity
- communication skills
If you can help your student work towards these goals during their four years in high school you are setting them up for success!
What solutions have you found to work well for your high school student?