Heading Back to School: Tips for Teens

Getting organized is half the battle when a new school year begins.

College students writing in classroom
Compassionate Eye Foundation/Chris Ryan/Taxi/Getty Images

Every school year your teen faces big changes when he/she goes back to school. Your teen is older, classes are getting harder and his/her future is getting closer. All of this causes very real stress - your teen is going to need your help (even though they're unlikely to ask for it).

Getting things in order is tough for teens, but just like younger children, they thrive on routine and predictability.

 A few small steps that everyone commits to will make the start of the school year run much more smoothly and pave the way for a lower-stress school year.

Be sure to include your teenager in as much of the decision-making as appropriate. Letting them know how much things cost, and remind them frequently that the family is a team that works best when everyone pulls together.

Organize your family's time. Place a weekly schedule for each person in the family on the refrigerator or other prominent place in your home. All changes and additions to this weekly schedule should be made on the family calendar which is kept in the same place. This is your ‘what’s going on at a glance’ center. Keep it synced with a shared online family calendar (Google Calendar is really easy to use), which makes it available on everyone's mobile devices. You can even set up alerts or reminders, which are especially useful for those events which are less frequent and may otherwise be lost in the shuffle.

Buy and organize school supplies. In high school your teen is going to need everything from a sharpened No. 2 pencil for computerized tests to deodorant for gym class. Use your teen’s school list as your guide and sit down with your teen to make a shopping list, and don't go shopping alone. Your teen can come with you to buy supplies, which will give them a reminder about how much things cost, and hopefully prompt them to take care of their things and not lose them.

Set goals and expectations. The start of the school year is a wonderful time to re-examine school performance – both academic and extracurricular activities. Remember to set doable goals based on your teenager's skills and needs, and try not to over stress him or her. Be sure to set the time for homework, and emphasize it as a priority over any extracurricular activities. Keep the lines of communication open, challenging as it might be with a teenager, so you know of any problems with school work before they become too serious.

Get emotionally ready. A new school year can mean a lot of stress for a teen and parents alike. Take some time before school starts to relax and enjoy an activity together. Talk to each other about the school year coming up and reaffirm with your teenager that you are there to help whenever help is needed. Be sure to tell him/her this and don’t assume he/she already knows. It is easier to handle stress from outside sources – like school – when you know someone is on your side.

Continue Reading