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Back-to-School To-Do List: High School

Preparing for School

Gearing up for a new school year means leaving behind the lazy days of summer and getting focused again. Here is a list to help your teen make the transition to high school and to provide you with peace of mind: 

  • Call your teen's school or check the school's web site for required supplies, absence policies, school rules, and dress codes. Attend orientation day.
  • Schedule a visit with the doctor's office for a flu vaccine and other vaccinations or exams required for school or sports activities.
  • Fill out emergency contact information and names of people who can pick up your teen. Also notify the school about your child’s health needs, medications, or allergies.
  • Prepare a plan for what to do if your child gets the flu and has to stay home for a few days. Find out how to get lesson plans and assignments from your child's teachers so your child can keep up.

Routines to Make Life Easier

  • Agree on how your teen will get to and from school. Discuss back-up plans if those travel arrangements for school fall through. Share your expectations with your teen about safe driving, whether he's driving or in the passenger seat.
  • Encourage your teen to walk, bike, or blade to places near home (with safety gear!).
  • Go over your preferences about lunch choices, preparation of packed lunches, and after-school snacks. Set expectations that your teen will help out and attend family dinners.
  • If your teen needs help managing study habits and homework, work with him or her to set up a good space and routine. Check in with your teen each evening for the first few weeks to quickly encourage good habits.
  • Work out mutually agreed upon expectations about after-school chores and activities.
  • Schedule time for casual time together with your teen and as a family -- shoot hoops, take routine walks, work in the yard together, or share a hobby.

Chats to Have With Your Teen

  • Find a quiet time to talk with your teen about his feelings about starting school. Ask him about academic and social goals for the year.
  • Help keep your teen healthy by reviewing coughing and sneezing into a tissue or elbow or shoulder if a tissue isn't available. Also review healthy sharing of personal items.
  • Talk with your teen about Internet safety, bullying and teasing, peer pressure, smoking, drugs, and alcohol.
  • Let your teen talk about her dreams or plans for dating. Take time to calmly express your preferences and respond to questions she may have.
  • Let your teen know you trust him and that he can trust you -- and that you are available to help him work it out if things go wrong.

Things to Buy With Your Teen

  • Have your teen shop for basic school supplies, such as pens and pencils, paper, computer supplies, math supplies, binders, folders, and a backpack.
  • Encourage your teen to choose mix-and-match back-to-school clothes. Give your teen as much control as you can (within sensible limits) over the wardrobe so your teen feels like he fits in. Be sure your teen has gym clothes and special gear, if needed, as well as a jacket or coat.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Daniel Brennan, MD on May 24, 2012
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