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Go Ask Mom

Starting high school on the right foot; how to help your eighth grader

Posted March 29, 2011

As spring approaches, parents of eighth grade students are anxiously planning for the day their child officially enters high school.

Living in an area with so many choices, many parents find themselves overwhelmed and confused as to what’s best for their child. With the availability of great private schools, magnets, charters and excellent area high schools, parents have a lot to think about. So where do you start?

First of all, this is a great time to spend with your child and really talk about what things interest them – from academic subjects to extracurricular activities. Whether you have the luxury of choosing a high school that you feel is the best fit for your child, or whether your child is attending the public school they are zoned for, parents still have a responsibility to ensure that the courses their child is enrolled in are appropriate.

Make sure they take the most rigorous course that they can handle. While you don’t want to overwhelm them, you definitely need to make sure that they are intellectually challenged. It’s OK to call the school and ask about the courses they offer and what they recommend. In the end though, it’s up to you and your child to take in that information and make a decision that is best for your child.

Studies have shown that students who are involved in school do better academically and socially. Be careful, however, that your child is not overextending themselves. Talk with your child and help them find activities that truly interest them. Joining a club for the sake of joining a club merely wastes time. Start your child young and help them explore interests that will develop into lifelong passions and pursuits. Help them find a mix of athletics, arts, and academic pursuits.

Finally, if your child isn’t already conscious about community involvement, now is a good to start. Help your child understand the need to get involved and give back. Start small – volunteering at the library or in your church. Encourage them to make commitments that are ongoing to the same organization. Eventually, your child may take on leadership roles in this group – hopefully they’ll learn to make service part of their everyday life.

High schools a big step. If you start planning early and take advantage of opportunities, you’ll find the experience to be rewarding in the end!

Christine M. Hall, Ed.D., is owner of CMH College Consulting in Cary. She'll offer advice on the college application and decision process here on Go Ask Mom from time to time. Learn more about Hall's services on the CMH College Consulting website. And see the tips she offered on Go Ask Mom last year in the box above.

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