For most students, going away to college is that first taste of complete freedom. In college, your teen has to make responsible decisions on their own, taking care of both their personal and scholastic needs without parental oversight for the first time. That freedom makes college the best years of many people’s lives. It’s also a time when many teens become overwhelmed by the sudden rise in freedom they’ve been offered. Is your child ready for college temptation? Offering your child increasing freedom and responsibility throughout high school can help prepare them for what’s to come after graduation. Unless they’ve shouldered some freedom–and the accompanying responsibility–in high school, they may not be prepared for that freedom in college.
The Skills Your Child Needs
By the time your child reaches their senior year in high school, there are some basic skills that they need to have acquired in order to take care of themselves effectively when they’re out on their own. These include:
- How to prepare semi-healthy meals on a budget, including putting together those meals with limited resources
- How to sort laundry, use a washer and dryer, and fold clothing so that it won’t be wrinkled
- How to take care of basic cleaning tasks throughout the home
- How to keep track of routine maintenance on their vehicle, including oil changes, keeping air in the tires, and knowing when there’s something wrong with the vehicle
- How to go grocery shopping with a budget in mind and stick to that budget
Increasing Responsibility Through High School
When your child reaches high school, you shouldn’t have to stand on top of them to make sure that they have everything they need to get through each day. By the end of their senior year, they should be able to:
- Determine whether or not they need to study and complete those tasks without direction
- Develop a schedule for keeping up with homework, including projects
- Weigh whether or not they can go out to a party or other event with friends in spite of having other responsibilities that they need to take care of
- Make their own decisions about healthy friendships with appropriate parental guidance
Students who have these basic life skills will be much more likely to succeed in college. Those who don’t learn how to balance the demands of school with the siren call of friends and fun, however, may quickly discover that they are ill-prepared to deal with the challenges that arise in college.
Helping Your Child Learn Responsibility
It’s tempting to sweep in and offer your help and protection to your child any time things aren’t going their way. From blaming a teacher for a low test score instead of helping the student determine how to do better next time to helping them complete projects the night before they’re due when they’ve put them off too long, there are plenty of opportunities to sweep in and bail your child out. While it’s fine to let your child know that they can count on you, as they progress through high school, your student needs to take increasing responsibility for themselves. This may include:
- Letting your child deal with the consequences of forgetting a lunch or a textbook
- Allowing your child to face the consequences of putting a project off until the last minute instead of bailing them out
- Encouraging your child to take the lead in discussions with teachers and other individuals when there is a problem
- Giving your child responsibility for chores around the house, especially things like their own laundry
- Assisting your child in the kitchen as they learn how to prepare basic meals
There’s not a magical switch that flips between high school and college, giving your child the ability to function on their own when they haven’t had the opportunity to build those skills throughout their high school years. If you want to raise a confident, capable teen who is prepared for the temptations that come along with college, spend their high school years offering them a steadily increasing level of responsibility for their own actions. Students who are given that responsibility in high school are much better equipped to handle freedom when they’re out on their own, without Mom and Dad waiting in the wings.
If you’re ready to pursue an education at a school where your child will be encouraged to develop personal responsibility and enhance their ability to deal with common issues they may face when they enter college, contact us to learn more about our school and how you can know if it will be a good fit for your child.