A new school year is just around the bend, ushering in new class, extra-curricular, and social calendars. But for many moms of soon-to-be high school juniors and seniors, there's a weightier concern on their minds: how to help their teens prepare for life-after high school. “I don't know where to start," admits Cheryl T. "I cant believe she will be a senior in high school this fall. It went by way too fast!"
To help make the junior and senior years less stressful, here Circle of Moms members share a checklist of actions to take as your teen heads toward the milestone cap-and-gown ceremony and the new life that will commence following graduation.
1. Teach Real-Life Skills
Many Circle of Moms members emphasize that the junior and senior years are a key time to teach your high schooler essential real-life skills like cooking, laundry, and time management. As Adelle S. reflects, "The adage of giving our kids roots and wings really comes into play during senior year."
Moms like Beth H. also recommend teaching teens money management skills, such as "how to balance a checkbook and stay on a budget.” She notes: “This is the number one thing that college kids have no clue about. Money slips through their fingers - with pizza, beer (oh yeah), soft drinks between every class instead of a water bottle, gas for running around - and high school is a good time to teach them.”
2. Plan for Senior Year Costs
Another challenge that junior and senior year will present is the cost of all the activities and celebrations on deck. As Adelle S. asks, “How do we make it through senior year without going broke?”
Her recommendation is to sit down with your child at the beginning of the year and “list the typical activities that will happen at their school, then plan financially for each event, including the school rings, dues for seniors, senior week, prom, senior pictures, cap and gown rental."
3. Encourage Academic Focus
Between prom, sports banquets, and social activities, the final two years of high school can be a busy and exciting time for teens. With so many distractions, many teens focus on the present instead of the future, and lose motivation. As Michelle R. shares, “The biggest problem with children this age is that they cannot see beyond today. All that matters is right now.”
Amy S. agrees: “My son is in honor’s classes and attends class every day, but he’s just not interested every day. We’ve decided we can’t make him do anything, but we are trying to stay present as parents, love him and have constructive conversations about his future to keep him motivated.” She recommends the occasional friendly reminder or question, instead of hovering and micromanaging your teen’s academic performance.
4. Prepare for College
If your child is planning to attend college, the junior and senior years are the key time for college preparation. Angie B. suggests making a checklist of everything your teen needs to get done, including taking the college entrance tests (ACTs or SATs), selecting colleges, preparing financially, including applying for scholarships and other financial aid, and completing entrance applications, with their all-important admissions essays.
Once you've made your list, Kim F. emphasizes that you should get the ball rolling in junior year: “Financial aide applications, student loan applications, visiting college campuses, you have to do that now. Junior and senior year are going to fly by and the sooner the better." Your teen should also pay a visit to his school counselor, says Angie G. “The best thing she can do for herself is go to the school counselor and get some tips from him/her.”
Moms like Crystal T. advise planning to visit several colleges. “Give your child an opportunity to view the campuses and hear about the different types of programs being offered.” A nice bonus is that hitting the road with your teen is a good way to spend some quality bonding time. As Crystal T. notes, it's amazing how much conversation goes on during a three-hour trek to the state university.
5. Get Emotionally Prepared
On a more bittersweet note, junior and senior year are an opportunity to spend time together and get your child emotionally ready for more independence, whether it will be at college or a first real job. As Carol P. emphasizes, "It's important to cherish that time together."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.