4 Ways To Dodge Early Semester Anxiety

You can feel it in your bones: the morning chill settling, the dry leaves crunching. Fall is here!

High schoolers have finally adjusted from the relaxed summer daze to the morning bell. But during week four or five comes the first panic: tests…in every subject. Assignments are actually due? The world didn’t stop?

Perhaps the reality check came in the form of a low test grade. As a parent, you have the knee-jerk “I told you so” reaction: for weeks you’ve been warning them to stay on top of the homework or else it would pile on into an unmanageable mess.

As a former high schooler who made it out with a few too many (avoidable) all-nighters, I’ve got some tips for how to swing at the curveballs in the first quarter and set the tone for a solid school year.

Here’s how to avoid producing gray hair … or at least gracefully ease into the inevitable, like Helen Mirren!

“The Queen don’t mess around.”

1. Get the syllabus when they do.

Either at the beginning of the semester or at the interim parent-teacher conference, obtain the syllabus for major classes and take note of the major tests in your calendar app.

But look, try not to internalize your daughter’s daily homework assignments and micromanage accordingly. But perhaps plan to make their favorite roast the night before midterms. In college, all they’ll have to eat before exams will be delivery pizza with a side of desperate homesickness.

2. Take charge of your own schedule.

It’ll be tough to help out if you’re more disorganized than your kid. The more they have on their plate (sports, clubs, activities, college applications, attending global science fairs), the more balls you, too, must juggle.

When I spent a summer interning in the White House, a wise working mother once said that the work/family balance is a game of picking and choosing the relevant events to be a part of. The better you get at managing your own schedule, the easier it will be to help your student navigate theirs when they fall short.

3. Make sure they have the right tools.

You probably thought I was going to rabble on about pencils and glue sticks, right? We know you took care of that. But it’s 2015 and you’re still using a paper calendar on the refrigerator. Does your student have a doctor’s appointment but still have to get their homework assignment done by 9? Send em’ a loud calendar invite to the iPhone that you bought them and thereafter asked yourself, why?

That phone serves more of a purpose than to distract eyes at the dinner table. It’s an intuitive graphing calculator. It’s a video reference guide.

It’s a personal tutor when the test is tomorrow.

4. Let them learn.

You know this more than anyone, but the same truth applies to different degrees for first graders, high schoolers and parents: we’re all figuring it out as we go. Sometimes a hiccup in September is the right kick in the butt towards making A’s in October.

It’s kind of a good thing if they’re stressing. Just show them that there’s ample time to plan for the next exam, but that high school doesn’t last forever — for better or worse.

Disclaimer: As a college kid, my parenting expertise goes about as far as letting my goldfish die last month. But I have run through all the hoops of getting from high school to college — and I’ve hovered anxiously over my little brother through the same process.

What do you think? Should I do a blog on hands-on/hands-off parenting when it comes to school in general? Sound off in the comments!

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