School Time for Teens

   Written by on August 17, 2017 at 10:11 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Has school started in your county?  By the way, my grandnephew, who lives up north, is appalled that the Central Virginia schools have already started.  He thinks there should be a constitutional amendment that schools can’t start before Labor Day and must end before Memorial Day.

Last week we talked about back to school ideas for helping your elementary kids.  Now, let’s look at ways you can help keep your teen on track.  You, as a parent, play a crucial role in helping teens succeed by staying informed, lending support, and providing guidance.    

Your teen’s outlook on life is very different from an elementary age child.  Teens are seeking independence and generally don’t outwardly look for help from their parents.  That being, parental involvement is an important ingredient for success for your teen.

Your teen may disagree but studies show that teens do better in school when parents are involved.  Your challenge is determining how to be involved while allowing your teens to grow, in a healthy way, in their independence.  Just like with your elementary age children, it is important to understand the high school.  Make sure you are active on the school website.  The school website is a great way to understand the school calendar, special events like dances and class trips, sign-up information and schedules for sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities, and important testing dates.  The website is also a great place to find out about the high school’s back-to-school night or parent-teacher conferences.  Relying on your teens to bring home the dates for school activities is generally not successful.

Just like with younger children, it important for high schoolers go to school ready to learn.  That means a healthy breakfast and a good night’s sleep.  Teens need the right amount of sleep to be alert and ready to learn.  The right amount sleep for teens is 9 to 10 hours each night.  This may not be easy for your teens.  They face early school start times, schedules packed with classes, homework, extracurricular activities, friends, and part-time work.  It’s common for teens not to get enough sleep.  Lack of sleep causes decreased attentiveness, decreased short-term memory, inconsistent performance, and delayed response time.  Teens sleep patterns are also changing.  Teens stay up later at night, wake up late in the morning, and try to catch up on sleep on weekends.  This is not ideal; we should all go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.  You can help by reminding your teen before bedtime to turn off the TV, limit video games, and shut off their phone.

So, you think that getting your teens to have a regular sleep pattern is hard.  Now, try getting your teens to like homework.  Their homework is more intense while their grades critically influence plans for their future.  You role is to help your teens learn how to balance academics with extracurricular activities, social lives, and jobs.  An important way to help is to make sure your teen has a quiet, well-lit, distraction-free place to study.  Distraction-free means no phone, no TV, and internet access only for homework-related searches.  Regularly sit down with your teen to go over class loads.  Help them evaluate if they are balanced.  Help him or her stick to a homework and study schedule.  Encourage your teen to ask for help if needed.  Planning is a key to help your teen study while juggling assignments in multiple subjects.  Since grades really count, planning for studying is crucial for success, particularly when your teen is probably more focused on extracurricular activities than studying.  And, remember to remind your teen that getting a good night’s sleep is smarter than cramming.

Your teen’s activities including school, extracurricular activities, jobs, and friends, all pull your teen away from home.  Staying connected with your teen requires creative effort.  However, the effort is worth the rewards.  Remember to talk with your teen, not at him or her about how to overcome the obstacles of high school.

Fill the valleys; level the hills; straighten out the crooked paths, and smooth off the rough spots in the road.  Isaiah 40:4

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or


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