How to Prepare Your Teenager for High School Graduation

With the spring semester fully underway, many parents are thinking of their teens' futures as another school year approaches its close.

The truth about graduation is that it may be just a single day, but parents need to start preparing for it months or even years in advance. If you want your child to have the best start into their young adult years, review these helpful tips for how best to prepare them.

Start as early as you can. As soon as you feel your teenager is emotionally ready, start giving them more responsibility. Talk to them about the financial implications of college, and what they will need to contribute and how. Just knowing that working hard in school now can help to ease a lifetime of financial burden through scholarships and grants is enough to motivate your teen to keep their grades up.

Give them a taste of the “real world.” It’s important to let kids just be kids as long as possible, but at some point, it will benefit your teen to get a glimpse into what adulthood means. This may be having them get a part-time job to help pay for small expenses (like school trips or a cell phone bill) or volunteer work out of their comfort zone such as a hospital. While these may not always be pleasant experiences, it’s crucial that they learn that not everything that happens in life is planned, and it’s best to be able to adapt.

Let them make mistakes, but keep a watchful eye. College is often a teen’s first taste of complete freedom. They can make all of the decisions that affect their daily lives, and it may become overwhelming when presented with so many choices - both good and bad. If you want your teen to learn some sense of self-control before being thrust into this freedom, allow them some trust in their high school years. Stand back and let them make some small mistakes, and talk to them with a non-judgemental tone on how much they know about the tougher subjects like alcohol or drugs. You may find that they are wiser in these subjects than you think, and it will give you a good sense of where they stand on these issues.

Don’t just focus on the academics. Life skills are just as important in surviving life after high school as keeping grades up. Teaching your teen how to cook a few meals, balance a checking account and keep a reasonably clean space will have them more prepared for the basics of young adult life. Basic first aid is also a valuable lesson that could benefit them significantly, or even save a life.

Nip problem behavior in the bud. If your teen is already spiraling out of control, it’s important to look into your options for how to get them back on track - and soon. Troubled teen programs such as a teen wilderness program or even an online program for teens can help get them the help and therapy they need to get their lives going in the right direction and be able to handle the adult world.