How to be Helpful During Your Student's Junior Year
By Katherine Cohen, PhD
March 10, 2009
1. Start the academic year with a bang! If you don’t know what courses they’re taking this year, you should. If you get excited about learning they will too. Find out what is on their reading lists for English and history. Engage your child in conversations about the material he is studying at the dinner table.
2. Prepare for standardized tests. Make sure you review your child’s testing schedule with him and with the high school college counselor at the beginning of the year. Remind your child to sign up for the appropriate tests (SAT Reasoning test, SAT Subject tests, ACT, even AP exams) well in advance.
3. Leave subtle (or not so subtle) reminders. You can leave subtle (or not so subtle) hints reminding your child to study. Leave an SAT, ACT, or AP practice test book next to their bed, or on the front seat of the car, or in the bathroom!
4. Foster a good relationship with the high school college counselor. Encourage your child to start early in the year making appointments with the counselors at the guidance office. As the parent you should be sure to introduce yourself to the guidance counselor, too. Let her get to know you and your child. Remember, it’s the guidance counselor who is likely to write a recommendation for your child. If the counselor is willing you can foster an email relationship, too.
5. Nurture their relationships with their teachers. Most likely, two teachers from your child’s junior year will be writing letters of recommendation for college. Ask your child how these relationships are going. Encourage your child to meet with his teachers outside of the classroom. Encourage your child to participate in the classroom and to go above and beyond the assignments. By discussing topics your child is learning in school at home, you can get deeper into the topic and hopefully make your child feel more confident to participate in class.
6. Begin your college visits. Once you meet with your child’s high school counselor, you can get an idea of where he will apply. Map out the school year and calendar. Find holidays and long weekends, any vacation during the school year, to plan some visits. And though you may accompany your child to her prospective colleges, you should remain at arm’s length. Ultimately it’s his visit and his decision.
7. Buy some college guidebooks. If you leave the books lying around the house, your children will come. Read up on some likely colleges and share your findings with your child. Let him read up too and discuss his thoughts. BE OPEN to his ideas and opinions.
8. Remind your child to keep up his academic work. Senior year counts! Many students forget that. Get excited about learning with your child! Foster lively discussions about the coursework at the dinner table.
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