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How to stay involved in middle and high school

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By GreatSchools Staff

Listen to her worries, and work for changes when you think they are needed.

Support what you believe is good about the school and its rules. But remember that you can play a key role in changing school practices that you believe are wrong. There are lots of examples of parents who have worked to make schools healthier, safer and more accountable to the needs of all students.

Get to know several teachers.

Don't wait for a problem to talk to them.

Don't forget about the guidance counselors.

They can keep you informed about your child's progress and behavior.

Encourage your child to explore new sports, hobbies or interests.

Help him regard failure as a necessary part of learning and growing. It's not unusual for students at this age to avoid new activities because, they reason, they can't fail if they don't try. But they also cut themselves off from chances to develop new interests and paths to success.

Be alert to signs of depression or anxiety and seek help.

Read Understanding Depression on to learn more.

Comments from readers

"so, i hear all the school gossip from my son. but still no hope with homework in high school, punishment does not work as he is strong willed, but quite smart in all subjects other than math, due to his teachers i think! WHAT DO I DO! HELP! "
"i love everythng about this website. it is just so greatttt!"
"Great articles "
"I way that in our school we get the parents involved in meeting is the teacher offer the kids 5 points bonus to use in a class. When you have a students that in a text had 78%, believe me those 5 points make a difference. The school have to be involve also. No school can be run on parents alone or teacher alone."
"Mom's and Grandmom's.... Can you please give me some comforting advice on my role with the grandchilren as their caretaker/ babysitter, and their after school help w/ homework? Mom likes to take the credit... no problem.... it's the responsibility of their parents of the grandchildren... and at times the lack of; is both overwhelming and stressful! For us all! Mostly the stress bestowed on to the children is as obvious as the nose on your face.... and the parents just don't want to admit that their role as the afterschool helper w/ homework is almost null and void! Either they are too busy ' running them to after school activity ',; one here,one there, then just drop them off and either off to work or'whatever'. Any good advice on how to not cross the mother/ grandmother line and calm that time of day? For all of us.... Thanks; a sometime too involved and concerned grandmom/ mom.... msz helen "
"How can I get high school parents tobecome more involved with the school? I have tried mailings, phone calls, interacting with parents during parent teacher conferences, and none of this works. Last night we scheduled a workshop on adolescent health issues and invited speakers. Only two parents came, they are the two who always show up! the largest attendance was 16 parents in a school that has 162 students. We are a new school and this is our second year."
"Your articles are, as always, very informative and helpful. I have a 16 year-old girl in private school and a 10 year-old son in public school. My son has Asperger's, and his organizational skills really need improving. It was suggested during our last IEP that I create a 'To Do' checklist for him, which I intend on implementing this school year. In reading comments from other contributors, it is strongly suggested that parents get involved by joining the PTA and attending the school meetings. I work full-time, and it is extremely difficult for me to attend these meetings, as they are always scheduled during working hours. Am I the only one in this circumstance? If the public schools would schedule the PTA and other meetings at a more convenient time to working parents, such as before school starts or after 6:00 p.m., they would get a lot more parental involvement. "
"I am glad to see that you think that parental involement in the teens activites is important however your polices on parents visitations during school lunch do not indicate that at all. I am a Grand mother who has aiways gone to have lunch with my grand daughters at school.Imagine my shock when I was not allowed to have lunch with one of my grand-daughters last year.i notified the administration about this situation. the best response I got was that I could check my grand-daughter out of school for luncch and then check her back in after lunch. What is that? the whole purpose of my having lunch on the campus is to meet some of my grand daughter's friends. friends that i may not get to meet otherwise. I am disappointed with this policyand saddened that this precious that I enjoyed in the past is no longer available to me. Thank you for your time."
"I have a 15 years old,12years and 6 years old sons. It is overwhelming to handle all of their homeworks, assignments, and projects. Sometimes, these are due around the same time. Also, I worked full time and didn't grow up in this system. It is sometimes very difficult to understand what you are expected to do when the system is foreign to you. I am trying to help my kids be the best they can be, but I feel overwhelmed, disorganized and sometimes illprepared from the magnitude of assigned home works (parents supervised works). I welcome all advice from parents who has/have similar circumstances, how to better handle/help my kids succeed without getting overwhelmed. I dread the beginning of a new school year. Thanks. "
"I also teach middle school. I have a child with a disability and did not go back to work until he started middle school. But I volunteered at the middle school while my oldest was there. Many people are very involved at the elementary level and become less involved at the middle/high school level, but this is a mistake. This is the time when your child is trying figuring out who he/she really is. They are trying to be independant. They need guidance in a different way than elementary age children, but they still need that guidance and parental involvement. Most of our PTA at the middle school was the staff at the school. Don't think because the kids are 'old enough to take care of themselves' that it means they really can take care of themselves. They may not need a babysitter anymore, but they do still need their parents to be active and involved in their lives. Even if you can't come to the school or volunteer, you can definately keep in contact through email and telephone!"
"Please, put the comments in a right way, now is impossible to read the completly sentence... This page is great...Thanks!!!"
"Very good information. This website is new to me. I am finding it filled with useful and important information. I am excited about the upcoming school year. I will be an informed and involved parent at Exploris Middle School."
"I am a middle school teacher. I know students get bombarded the first week with a class syllabus from every teacher. Sit down with your child and review each one for understanding. Take the stress out of their week by helping them setup their notebooks for each class. If you can not afford to buy the materials let the teachers know through their contact numbers. usually they have extras your child can have without letting all their classmates knowing. Go to the PTA meetings, ELAC meetings and especially the School Site Council (SSC). They are the committee that approves all the school money spent on educational programs for the students. Get involved!"
"It's imperative in getting involved with the school's PTA. Parents; need to be more pro-active. Chaperoning on school trips, requesting to come into the class & discuss the type of work you gives students' a better insight in the corporate world & is also sending a positive msge to the students in incorporating constuctive time mgmt. skills."
"to the person who is not allowed to have a cell phone: try using persuasion - write the pros of having a cell phone and the cons of not having one (stay in contact better, good in case of emergencies), tell your mom that you're having a bully problem and totally expain the situation, also say that you'd feel a lot safer having one. if you can't have one because of money issues, save up for one. I want to get one myself, but my parents can't afford to get me one and i dont have allowance. but sometimes i get paid if i do the laundry or if i do a really nice job cleaning up the kitchen, or mowing the lawn. what would really help is if you get a part-time job (if you're old enough) and get a pay-as-you-go phone"
"My husband and I have been wondering if we should give our twins (boy & girl, 11 yrs. old) will start 6th grade in Sept. an allowance, that the kids can use for school lunches, if they want to or they can bring lunch. We were wondering how other parents handle this."
"Yeah, but what if you are being bullied still and have not manage to speak to your mother, because you know that person would beat you up. Also, what if your mom does not want you to have a cell phone and you're always involed w/school activities. What should I do? "
"please do not forget the PTA, PTSA or PTO's!"
"If you have children who are transitioning. Go ahead before the fall classes start. Call the principal of your present school and get the counselor's name at the new middle/high school. They will not only give you the information. When you call the new counselors at the new school. They are going to take me on a tour and let me meet all the teachers before my daughter even starts! This also lets you know that your childs teacher and counselors at her new school take you seriously and will likely take him/her seriously!!! Parent involvement is so critical. I am always surprised by how few parents are truly involved with their children and our society as a whole dictates that today! "
"My daughter starts middle school in the fall and is excited but also apprehensive as the article stated on this website. I am very connected to my daughter but do try to let her drive when it warrants. I run a very tight ship but one thing I have found after being a GirlScout mentor and leader is that parents really don't LISTEN to what their children are telling them. They also talk 'AT THEM' instead of 'TO THEM'. They are still people and very intelligent and their problems are just as large as an adults to them. This is straight from 10 - 14 year olds mouths... My 32+ member troop. Thx. "
"I'M the PTA prsident at my soon to be twelve and thirteen year old daughters middle school.I realized that this is the most critical time of their lives.It is at this time so many potentially contrary ideas are formed.I feel as a parent that this is my opportunity to ensure ; the foundation that has been estabished in raising them to this point will not crumble."
"It is a good article, and as a parent of 16 and 13 year old boys I think the most important thing I have done is shown the boys that what they feel are problems will be shared by everyone in the family. When a situation occurs, we all contribute our thoughts and suggestions on the best possible ways to handle the problem(s). You would be surprised at the problems that are discussed!! Everything from a girl asking if my oldest wanted a 'BJ' to my youngest feeling a teacher does not like him. The whole family participates, which offers everyone a chance to learn, and THINK, not to mention how it has increased family unity, and given both boys a safe place to talk honestly about what goes on in their lives. The talks are never about punishment or disclipine though, I feel parents must decide what is more important, knowing the truth and being able to help guide our children through, or providing punishment for things the child did in the past, which can not be changed. It's bet! ter to focus on the present and the future... helping them make better decisions the next time. "
"I love this website. It's one of the greatest newsletters around. This was a great article! I found it very helpful on working with my child. I have a fourteen year old son, and it's tough to talk to him sometimes. He opened up on his first day of school though, so that's a good start. I think people forget how hard these next four years are for kids. It's so long ago for us adults that we just don't remember how tough of an age this is, especially for the ninth graders. It's a huge transition, and I want to be there for him, as well as my other children. Parents need to be involved, even in high school. We all make a difference!"
"I must admit I found this site by accident. However, I am thoroughly impressed. I especially like the section that offeres suggesting for staying involved with your high school child. My son has already expressed his trepidation for high school, it's his first year. I appreciate this site's suggestions on how to help comfort him. I'll be vieweing this site periodically from now on, intentionally! :-) "
"I am so glad as a full time working mother that i can stay informed and somewhat connected as my daughter begins jr. high i want to be involved by knowing what is going on at shcool, to support her and guide her along as best as i can, it is a great support and i am glad for this absolutely helpful school site."
"Having raised six children in the 70's and 1 in the 90's, now I'm raising a grandson who’s 14, I’ve forgotten what children go through dealing with peer-pressure. Then the issues in today’s society, along with the lack of moral upbringing demonstrated by today’s youth are mind-boggling. The article on staying involved is right on! My kids, who now have children of their own in school, echo the same phrase I used to give them, when they express that they are embarrassed at their parents presents at school. They just tell them, “When you were younger you embarrassed me many times at the movies and at the grocery store so now it’s my turn to stay active at school to embarrass you.” Talking to your kids and getting to know their friends is so important. My youngest is now 1, soon to be 20 and is transferring out of town for college. He’s already taken me to his new campus to show me around. The neatest thing he said to me during our tour was, “I’m I wish you lived close enough to stop in and embarrass me from time to time.” I hugged him a shed a tear. Thanks for caring about our children and their relationship with their parents/guardians, keep up the good job and I’ll keep reading and learning. A loving Grandparent"
"I will contact the school's guidence consilor after reading this. We have some concerns about our son living at 2 diffent house holds due to divorce and would like some tips on how to deal with this. We also have some questions to ask about his maturity, and some behaviours. Thank-you, Debbie Allen"
"Great article with lots of helpful information. I ordered the book by M. Gurian to help me cope with a 13 yr old son. He is my only child and I want to try to make these tween years so as smooth as possible. I want to make sure I'm communicating well with him. Thanks! From Palm Harbor, FL"
"this was a very good resd. I will use lots of the tips in my start of year letter for the PTSO parents. Thank you for the Infomation"
"I think this was very helpful especially to those who have never raised a teenager before. The pre-teen-teen years can be overwhelming for both the teen and the parent and though our childrend may act like they don't hear or understand us...the do. I've learned this from my 23 year old who interacts quite a bit with my 11 year old and other children she works with in her employee. She said 'Mom, I find myself talking to kids about the same things you talked to me about and I think to myself, I've heard this before.Oh my God, my Mom told me this.' We can and do survive these years."
"I am so glad I found this web site. Any in put in my child's life is so much of a help. This is the last of my 3 children to go into high school. His father & I are not together and he is living w/his father. Before now I didn't have any problems talking w/him and I never had any problems w/the other 2 children: his brother 24 and sister 21 w/2 children. I guess w/him being the baby I want to hold on to him even longer but I have to realize that he is becoming his own person and I just want to be on the side lines cheering him on, even thou he thinks at this time he doesn't need Mom. So having this info online help me to know how to help him w/out him actually knowing."