As your child leaves middle school or junior high and heads into high school, they will continue to work on developing those academic skills that are essential to their success out in the adult world. But there are other skills that are just as important to their success not only in school but out in the adult world that should be emphasized at home. Skills of time management, organization, self advocacy, and tolerance with respect are skills that should be introduced either at home or school and reinforced often at home.
Time management becomes an important but sometimes hard skill for adolescents to learn as they begin to have more and more responsibilities as they start high school. Many like to join clubs or teams after school. Some start working that first job to earn extra money and schoolwork becomes harder and more rigorous, especially for those that choose to take college prep courses. This is all on top of continued social and family obligations. Thereís a new level of freedom that theyíve looked forward to, but in order to enjoy those rewards they must know how to prioritize things and use their time effectively. For instance, have them create a schedule with their work, club or team meetings, and any other calendar events that will require a specific time requirement. Then discuss how much time that leaves them for homework. With schoolwork, work and activities filled in does it leave them an adequate amount of time for those more enjoyable obligations like family and friends.
Organization is another key thing that ties in with time management. As they get older they will start managing more and more of their own activities and commitments. Teach them a system to become organized. Planners and fridge calendars are a great way for them and you to stay organized and aware of everything that is going on. For school help them organize a notebook and system for their schoolwork.
Self advocacy is something I always stress to my students at the beginning of the year and itís something that is easily overlooked as a skill to master. High schools are bigger than middle schools. Administrators and counselors have a caseload of around 300-400 kids and teachers have anywhere between 100-150 students. Thatís a lot of needs in one day that theyíre trying to manage. It is so important that students speak up for themselves, but sometimes kids are shy or afraid to question something. I always tell my students it is okay to question something that they are not sure about. If they think a grade was recorded wrong or a counselor forgot to include them on a college info thing, they need to gain confidence to approach and advocate for themselves. We are all human and no matter the profession people make mistakes so whether itís questioning their teacher, doctor, lawyer, itís always okay to speak up and advocate for his or herself.
From their toddler years, you teach your children to play nice and if they donít have anything nice to say then donít say anything at all. As they get older, this can still be the case. However the issues surrounding the circumstances might be a little more important than they were on the elementary playground. We will often find people in the work field and somewhere else that we have to work with but donít always agree with or canít really get along with for whatever reason. Itís important as they grow to teach them a level of tolerance for dealing with these people.
These are all skills outside of the typical high school academics that are important for adolescent to master for success in the adult world. Does your adolescent have these skills mastered? Are they ready for the adult world?