How to Talk to Your Eighth Grader About Choosing a Private High School
If there’s one thing all teens have in common, it’s a desire to have their voices heard. As they seek greater autonomy in their everyday lives, involving them in decisions that affect their future is crucial for staying connected and setting them up for success.
Whether middle school was an awesome experience or a rocky road, you realize the importance of choosing a high school with intentionality. These four years will mold and shape your child academically and socially. They will explore their interests, develop their talents, and shore up their values. They will also prepare for college by identifying career paths and taking necessary steps for admission to their best-fit universities.
Starting with good conversations can help make the transition to a new high school a positive experience for your family. Here are some practical ways to involve your teen in the decision-making process.
Find out what their vision for high school looks like.
Ask your teen about their ideal high school experience. Do they envision a large school or a small school setting? A place where they can get involved in many different activities or a more competitive environment? What does the ideal teaching and learning experience look like? Do campus facilities matter? This is an excellent starting point because it shows your teen that you care about what's important to them and are ultimately looking for a place where they can reach their potential.
Ask them what new things they’d like to try.
Don’t assume that your teen wants to be involved in the same sports and activities they’ve always chosen. Ask them what electives and extracurriculars they’d like to try and how they would like to get involved in school life. You might be surprised that your soccer star has always wanted to learn how to play the guitar or that your budding artist is interested in branching out into photography and video production. While academics may remain the top priority, showing your teen that you’re looking for a place where they can pursue their interests will make the school search more exciting for all.
Define goals together.
High school students know that they need to plan for the future, but the thought of this can be overwhelming and even anxiety-inducing for some teens. Teach them to set goals using the SMART acronym; if their goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely, they’ll be much more likely to stay the course and achieve them. Remember, goals don’t have to be related to grades! They can be associated with learning a new skill, trading social media time for reading or journaling, or saving money for a large purchase such as a computer or a car.
Values are a core part of your teen’s identity, and high school is an important time for developing one’s identity. Talk explicitly about values at home and encourage experiences that help your teen define what matters most to them. When choosing a high school, ask your teen what values they would ideally share with their teachers, peers, and school community. This conversation will help you place your teen in the right environment while connecting with them on a deeper level and finding out what concerns them.
Tour schools together.
School tours are an excellent way to foster conversation with your teen and discover what environment feels right. Compiling a list of possible schools online is a great place to start. Still, there is simply no substitute for coming to campus to feel the energy and talk directly with administrators, teachers, and current students. Make a day of it and plan a dinner or ice cream date with your teen after the tour, fostering conversation while the first impression is fresh in your minds.
Schedule a shadow day.
If any schools on your list offer a shadow experience, don’t miss this opportunity for your teen to spend a day on campus. Getting to know teachers, previewing the curriculum, meeting future classmates, and learning about opportunities to get involved in activities are just a few of the benefits students can experience during a shadow day. Not only does it make the decision-making process easier, it also reduces those first-day jitters.
We can’t wait to welcome you and your teen to The Adelson School.
At Adelson, we care about your teen’s pursuits, goals, and values. We invite you to schedule a tour and look forward to starting a conversation about your priorities and theirs.