Steps to Success: Middle School to High School Transition Strategies for Parents and Students
The transition from middle school to high school is an exciting time, but it is not without its challenges. Even in an online setting, without the added pressures of navigating the hallways of a new school and new social dynamics, the transition process can be overwhelming for kids and parents. High school means harder courses, more teachers, more independence and more responsibility for coursework, all of which can be tough to adjust to.
For K12 students the high school years are a time when parents “step back but not away”. Parents provide moral support and advice, but are not directly involved in students’ academic work as they were in the lower grades.
Instead, high school students now have dedicated teachers for each subject, as well as access to advisors and counselors to help them. In high school, it’s up to students to stay on track with assignments, manage their schedule themselves, and communicate with teachers.
What steps can parents take to ease the transition?
- Adopt a New Mindset – If you have been your student’s Learning Coach through the middle school years, it can be an adjustment to take a less hands-on approach to your child’s education. You can prepare your student by helping him/her to plan a schedule, choose courses, help set up a place to work, and help find opportunities for socializing with peers. After you have helped your student prepare, it’s time to step back and let them take the reins. Be available to offer guidance, but encourage kids to take ownership of their learning.
- Talk About the Future – Talk to your child about what he/she wants to do after high school. The courses a student takes in high school have an impact on college admissions. Talk with your child about his/her interests, needs, and goals and help your student plan accordingly.
- Emphasize the Importance of High School – Explain how important the high school years are, and encourage your student to take high school seriously from the beginning. Don’t overwhelm your student, but make sure he/she understands that the courses taken and grades received will matter when it comes time to think about colleges or careers.
- Choose Courses – Help your child find courses that interest him or her. K12 has more than 150 courses to choose from, including AP/Honors, remediation, and many electives.
- Join a club – Clubs are a great way to meet other students and explore interests and there are many available to K12 students. Clubs, especially service and career-oriented ones, can also contribute to a well-rounded college application or resume down the line.
- Attend Events – The virtual academies put on many in-person and online events for new students, as well as high school-specific social events. Attend local social events or orientations to meet other online students in your area. Take advantage of relevant online Speaker Sessions and the comprehensive online orientations and Q&A sessions K12 offers to get your child started off right.
- Make a Schedule – Help your student make a daily schedule to keep track of his/her assignments, Class Connect sessions, and other obligations. Have your student keep track of the time spent on assignments to make it easier for you to track attendance. Help your student stay on-task and ensure he/she is completing assignments, but make clear your expectations that he/she will manage his/her time more independently as the school year progresses.
- Create a Study Area – Make sure your high schooler has a quiet place to study and participate in online sessions. If there are other young children in the home, it may be a good idea for your student to have an area to themselves away from distractions.
- Provide Support – This may be the online high school parent’s most important job. Many middle school students are excited to start high school, but also nervous. Discuss your child’s concerns and do what you can to alleviate them. Be encouraging and supportive and available to help when needed.