10 Tips to Help Your Teen Succeed this School Year

Image: Ludwig
By: Monica Ippolito
ACS After-School Counseling Program Intern

Now that the fun of returning to school is starting to wear off here are some ways that you can help your teen be there best this year:
1. Attend School Daily: Reserve sick days for those in which your teen has a fever, nauseated, vomiting, or diarrhea. When your teen has to “catch up” with their school work that is only adding more pressure on themselves to get all of the work done.
2. Teach Them Learning Is Their Job: Teens need to understand that it is their job at this time in their lives to learn all of this information even if they think they will never need it. Teens must also understand that when they don’t like a teacher this is good training for some day when they have to work for a boss that they don’t really care for. Just because you don’t like someone that does not give you the right to not do the work, the truth is the only person suffering in this situation is the teen whose grade is not the one they want.
3. Instill Organizational Skills: Most teens receive a planner from their school, so you should show them how to use the calendar feature on their smart phones. Not only can they put in those due dates but they can add some helpful reminders that the date is coming up. Along with putting in all of those assignments they can also add in tryouts, practices, games, rehearsals, plays, concerts, dances, etc. This will help them plan out when things need to be done as well as give them something to look forward to.
4. Set Up A Place For Learning: You know your teen best & each one has their own style of learning but each of them needs a desk or space at a table with a chair to be able to lay books out & write or type things up. Along with a place is a time where the rest of the family members need to let this teen get their work done.
5. Offer Help With Studying: It is important that your teen knows that you are available to help them out. As long as you offer even if they turn you down they will know that they can ask at a later date when they are in need of help.
6. Let Them Know That Failure Is A Part Of Success: Teens are under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed from many people in their lives. The thing is most people don’t explain that in order to succeed you must fail first. Your teen didn’t just start walking they had to crawl first, then fall down in learning to balance. The failures that they will have will make them stronger people. Their failure is a lesson that they needed to learn in order to get to the goal they have in mind.
7. Technology Use: Limits for everyone in the household. During meal time everyone should leave their devices in another room or on silent in the center of the table. Figure out what is the best time for technology to also take a rest as it is bed time. This is a great time for the devices & you to recharge the batteries.
8. Eating Habits: Start the day off with something. Some teens are not ready for a full on breakfast but maybe fruit or some type of breakfast bar is a great way to put something in the belly before school. Remind your teen to eat at lunch. Surprisingly many teens skip lunch & wait until school is over to eat their next meal. If this is your teen please remind them to pack snacks in order to keep their brains healthy and alert. After school snack that is a snack & not a meal. Enough to keep them going until dinner. Dinner that is nutritious & delicious.
9. Sleeping Habits: Did you know that our teen actually needs 10-12 hours of sleep a night? That is about the same amount that they needed as an infant. In reality we all know this is not possible with everything they have going on, so try for 8 hours. With this much sleep they will be able to focus better in school.
10. Limit How Many Hours They Can Work: Your teen may think they can handle it all but between homework and school activities this is already a lot; throw working into the mix and suddenly someone else has expectations of them. It is not a bad thing to work but work should understand that school comes first. The Child Labor Coalition of the National Consumers League , a private, nonprofit consumer-advocacy organization, suggests the following guidelines for hours, late-night hours and supervision (source:healthychildren.org):

Fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds:

  • No more than three hours per day and fifteen hours per week during the school year
  • No more than eight hours per day and forty hours per week during the Summer

Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds:

  • No more than four hours per day and twenty hours per week during the school year.
  • No working before 7 A.M. or after 10 P.M.
  • No more than eight hours per day and forty hours per week during the summer.