Preparing For High School 
Monday, November 28, 2016 at 10:51AM
MS Simplicity in Organizing


When my three boys went to high school, they all seemed to have variations of the same nerves. Worried about the upperclassmen. Worried about the locker combination. Worried about walking in between classes in a bigger school.

But today there is even more to worry about now with social media and cyber bullying. What is a parent to do? All those hormones and our own insecurities about our high school experience leaves us not knowing where to turn. I had a great high school experience and each of my kids have as well. I think if we set our kids up for success, they will be successful. If we fill them full of anxiety and horror stories, their experience will be less than stellar. 
I spoke to a group of middle school students this spring on preparing for high school. I asked my three kids for their best advice as well as did some research of my own. Here is what we came up with.
1. Take high school credits seriously. Your future self will thank you for studying and pushing through to get that "A." You may not understand now how important it is, but when you are a Junior and looking for colleges you will have the epiphany of why working so hard for that "A" was worth it. 
2. Color code binders to match folders and notebooks for each class. My middle son did this all on his own. I bought him white binders and primary color folders and notebooks, a set for each class. He then took a permanent marker and put a dot on the spine of each binder with the color of each class to correspond with the folder and notebook colors. That way when the binders were in his locker he could quickly scan the spine and grab the one for the right class.
3. Set up a family command center. Spend the last few weeks of summer looking at how to better streamline the family schedule. Talk to friends and neighbors now about carpooling. Don't think you have to do everything, bring in reinforcements to help schlep the kids. 
4. Pack the night before. Always make sure your backpack is ready to go the night before. Better yet, pick out your clothes as well. There will be mornings that you want to hit that snooze or you over sleep, you will be glad that you prepped the night before and are ready to dash out the door and not be late.
5. Look at your grades weekly. This is important for both parent and student. Find out how best to look at the grades, usually an online portal. Don't look at the end of the semester and hope for a miracle. Keep on track weekly, so that there are never any surprises.
6. Use your smartphone to keep you organized. The smartphone is an organizer's dream. Photos can be taken of the class schedule and locker combination so you never have to worry about it again. Set reminders for important tests or quizzes. Send mom or dad a quick text to tell them how much you love them and not just ask for money.
7. Find the study spot that works for you. Not gonna lie, mine was in front of the TV. I liked the background of the television. It forced me to focus more. Each student has different needs for study space, and respect that. Even though my kids had a desk in their room, none of them ever used it. Usually I would find them sitting at the kitchen table or island so that they are a part of the action of the household.
8. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Because I had two kids on IEP's, they were accustomed to asking for help. It takes a strong person to ask for help. Schools areset up to help you be successful. If you are struggling in math, talk to the teacher and see what services are offered. And please do not wait until it is too late to ask for help. Do it as soon as you feel some difficulty.
9. Make a note so you don't forget. I like to put reminders not only in my phone but also on post it notes. I then put the notes in places where I don't forget. I like to see the note so that my brain isn't full of trying to remember not to forget, that I actually forget other more important things. 
10. Don't procrastinate. Yes I am guilty of procrastinating. Yes I have certain offspring of mine that are guilty of this. Procrastinating is OK as long as you do not stress out about it and create stress for others. Having a group project and being late on your tasks is never a good idea. If you are a procrastinator, set up rewards for yourself for coming in on time or early. I am a fan of positive reinforcements! 
11. Equip yourself with the right tools. Two of my kids have auditory processing disorder. Which in essence means they have a hard time hearing when there is background noise. My middle son found that by wearing noise cancelling headphones his life has been changed forever, his words, not mine. You may need the right kind of pencil or pen to write with. Plan ahead so that you make sure that you have what you need before you need it. 
12. Proper amounts of sleep are essential. Don't think being a night owl is cool. It isn't. There is nothing wrong with telling your friends you can't stay out late because your parents have set a time for you to be home. My youngest loves to sleep and he knows when he is tired and he will come home and go to sleep.
Just remember the most important tool for the transition is having a good means of communication between the parent and child. You want your child to come to you with their struggles and share with you. Or even have other adults in their life that they can share with. I found out some bullying of my youngest son because he shared with his older brother and his older brother told him to tell us what was going on. I am so glad he did as we took swift action and it ended. Find those pockets of time to visit and check in on each other. It doesn't need to be hours on end. Often a ride to school in the morning can create memories. Create those pockets of time and enjoy the organized transition to high school. 
To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,
MS. Simplicity
Melissa is a Productivity Consultant and author living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things! 
Melissa's e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon.
Article originally appeared on Melissa Schmalenberger, Professional Organizer, Fargo, North Dakota (
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