It’s back to school time
As parents of high school kids, we’re looking for ways to help set them up for a successful day of learning.
The 4 years of high school is a significant time in a child’s educational experience. During these years, they will make plans for their future careers whether is be working straight out of school, joining the military, or going to college. They should be learning life skills, habits, and routines that will help them in their adult life.
But they’re teenagers. At times they can be moody, lazy, or major procrastinators. Change is never easy. But incorporating daily routines is a huge step towards success. It takes time for routines to become a regular part of life so be patient. Get their input on how to make these things work for them. As a parent, we can give advice, support, and guidance, but ultimately they are the ones who need to put in the effort.
Daily Steps For a Successful Day of Learning for High School Students
- Set an alarm and learn to wake up to it. Some kids hit snooze too many times and others sleep right through the alarm (that’s my son). Some day our kids will move out of our home and need to be able to wake up for the day without mom or dad being there to make sure they wake up. Starting this in the high school years is a good time to start.
- Start the day with a huge glass of lemon water. Being properly hydrated helps one to feel awake and promotes good health.
- Eat a healthy breakfast that has protein and is low in sugar and fat. Kids need energy to be ready to tackle of full day of school. A rumbling stomach may cause them to be distracted during class. Too heavy of a breakfast will make them feel sluggish and sugar will cause them to crash when classes are just beginning.
- Have a set hygiene routine. A shower in the morning can help kids who need that extra push to feel awake. Being clean and looking good helps kids to feel good about themselves – it’s always easier to learn when you feel good.
- Teens should go to bed at a reasonable time so that they feel rested and refreshed in the morning. This is a tough one because they’re often night owls and would prefer to stay up all hours of the night playing video games or chatting with friends. They may have trouble falling asleep until they get used to going to bed at the same time every night. High school often starts earlier than middle school so suddenly they have to get up earlier which means less sleep. Limit caffeine in the evenings. Consider melatonin supplements to help with good sleep – my son has great success with these when he’s been staying up too late and needs to adjust back to a ‘normal’ bedtime.
- Limit late-night electronics. For best sleep, electronics should be turned off ahead of bedtime. This helps kids to settle down from the overstimulation from screens. You may want to consider having kids put their phones in a central place to charge overnight or setting up parental controls that turn off access to electronics during set hours.
- Set out clothes the night before. This helps to ensure a smooth morning. Especially important for those kids who put a lot of effort into picking their outfit and will help to reduce the “I don’t have anything to wear” morning tantrums when it’s almost time for school to start. Even with virtual learning, if your kids are on Zoom they may care out their outfit for the day.
- Use an academic planner. Teaching kids to use a daily planner to record tests and assignments is an important life skill that not only will help with high school but will set them up for success later in life.
- Have a dedicated space for learning and homework. Neaten this space daily so it continues to be a productive environment (including clearing all those glasses and food wrapper that teens accumulate). It should be comfortable (but not too comfortable that they fall asleep) and with minimal distractions.
- Learn note-taking skills and keep practicing to improve. Sometimes schools and parents are so focused on the material, that we forget to teach kids how to learn, and taking notes is an important part of this. Different things work for different kids so they may need to try several approaches to see what works for them. Offer suggestions or look into enrolling them in a class.
- Set aside time in the morning to stretch or even fit in a workout, walk, or run. This is great for kids who have trouble feeling awake and focused. It may be a struggle at first but can make a huge difference in their focus during the school day.
- Set rules about no distractions of television shows, social media, or gaming during school or homework time.