Commencement: what does it mean to a tween?
www.tweenparenting.about.com Jennifer O’Donnell writes that graduating from middle school “is an important milestone.” Why? Because “ middle school isn’t exactly a picnic.” In some cases, kids may struggle with academics, but in many cases, it is the social aspect that is tough to handle, the bullying and the “pecking order.” Her advice: don’t forget to celebrate their passage into high school, and let them know you are there for them.
In her article, Preparing for High School – High School Clubs, Teams and Activities – Ms. O’Donnell talks about taking time to help your tween transition from middle school to high school. Even though activities offered will vary with the schools, it is important to know what groups will be available to your child. For example, does the high school have language clubs, newspaper, drama, art, orchestra, band, chess club, chorus, debate, dance, cheerleading, or other special interest groups? Are there sports teams that interest your child? What sports are offered at the JV (junior varsity) level?
If your tween is especially interested in technology/computer science, most high schools have good resources. There may even be a club for tech geeks. Clubs and sports are a great way for your child to socialize and increase peer interaction. Parents, however, must communicate to their tweens that these activities are extra-curricular. They must keep their grades/studies up in order to participate.
High school will begin a new chapter in their lives. The definition of commencement is a beginning or start, or a ceremony where degrees are conferred. The definition of graduation is the receiving of an academic degree or diploma. This is a new adventure, one that your tween should look forward to. This new beginning will be filled with new discoveries. If your child is feeling too anxious and pressured, this adventure will become a hurdle he or she cannot face. Keep their emotional health in good shape.
Starting High School can Cause Long-Lasting Stress, Research Shows (www.huffingtonpost.com). Canadian research has found that one in four students has high anxiety about entering high school. Behavior in the U.S.A. is much the same, with students turning to alcohol and drugs when over-stressed. Huffington Post offers five rules for students coping with this anxiety:
- Manage your expectations, giving you time to adjust.
- Talk it out with parents, teachers, or guidance counselors.
- Stick with your friends if possible.
- Get organized and have a good study system
- Remember that it gets better.
In the Los Angeles area there are many high schools with very large populations of unified school districts, such as LAUSD or Los Angeles, GUSD or Glendale, BUSD or Burbank, MBSD or Manhattan Beach, and OCSD or Orange County. When tweens enter these schools, it can be totally overwhelming. There are also private high schools in the area with smaller classes. Some of these are costly, but there is financial aid available. If your tween can’t find the support he or she needs, find a good therapist (many are listed under Psychology Today). Whatever approach you take, reassure your tween that this is another rite-of-passage, and that you are there for them in this new adventure.