I've been a schoolteacher for almost 20 years, working with high-school students.
I wish more parents would help their freshmen beyond getting good grades.
A solid ninth-grader is set up for success through college and a career.
I've been a high-school teacher for almost two decades, and one of the most common messages my freshmen seem to have absorbed by the time they walk through my classroom doors in September is "now it counts."
By "it," they tend to mean grades, and as for who or what those grades "count" for, they're often thinking of their final transcript, sent off through the future to some college admissions board or dream employer.
And I get that. Transcripts have a way of seeming fixed and official when so much of life is experimented with crossed fingers.
But there are many other messages I'd like my freshmen to take to heart instead. I share these messages with them throughout the school year. But since retention is a byproduct of repetition, I would love for more parents to not only encourage their children to apply themselves to their school assignments but engage them in conversation around the following areas that count well beyond grades.
The ninth-grade students who seem to have the best all-around experience at school are those who feel like they belong. School — just like the world — is a big place. Help your child understand they can make it more welcoming by finding their people.
Encourage them not to worry about whether they'll be invited to join the "cool kids" group chat but to follow their own interests and join a sport, a musical, an affinity group, or a club.
And don't forget the teachers and adults in the building. Identifying one or two mentors they can go to with questions and concerns will help school feel like their school, a place where they feel welcomed and valued.
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Prioritize health and wellness
Many students stay awake late at night studying or tapping away on their phones and video-game controllers. While the former behavior might seem more preferable than the latter, neither is helpful.
Teens need to be both pushed academically and allowed time and space to be social and play, but not at the expense of consistent sleep. Good sleep is tied to better academic performance and overall health.
But establishing healthy boundaries for teens can be a challenge, especially when there's a big grade or a big game on the line.
Talk to your ninth-grader before they're exhausted or deep into some streak about how to create boundaries around their time so they can succeed in the classroom and pursue what brings them delight in a way that supports their health instead of derailing it.
When given appropriate levels of responsibility, freshmen are capable of impressive independence. Parents should both talk about this capability with their children and demonstrate their belief in it by allowing their kids a healthy degree of autonomy as they navigate high school.
Perhaps your child doesn't understand a physics concept or agree with an essay grade they received. Perhaps someone said something that made them feel small. Of course, parents should encourage conversation at home about situations like these. But instead of you, the parent, emailing the teacher or setting up a meeting with an administrator, encourage your child to first attempt those interactions themselves.
Small missteps, failures, and struggles should happen during freshman year. It's when the stakes are lowest. And they're how students learn and grow.
A solid ninth-grade year sets students up not only for college and a career but for a life of genuine interest and inquiry. Help your child think beyond the grade book to a place where what counts are the habits they've created that will pave their path toward becoming confident upperclassmen, prepared to meet the wider world.
Emily Brisse's writing has been published widely, including in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction's True Story, The Sun, and Parents. Connect with her on Instagram at @emilybrisse.
Read the original article on Insider