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10 Things They Don’t Tell You at Orientation and Open House

10 Things They Don’t Tell You at Orientation and Open House

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/auburnalumniassociation/

Do you remember middle and high school? I do and it was a rollercoaster ride of academic pressure, switching classes, hormonal changes, personal identity, and the drama. Oh the drama! It’s enough to make kids cry and increase parents blood pressure to an unhealthy level.

By now I am sure your student has been to orientation as school is starting soon. Usually in the first couple of weeks you will have the opportunity to attend an open house where you get to meet the teachers and tour the school. When you go to open house be sure to have a piece of paper and a pencil, any questions written down you may have for teachers such as how to communicate questions and concerns about your student’s progress or how to help them at home, and your cell phone to take pictures of anything you may need to remember for future reference. Orientation and open house are both great events for parents and students to attend, but there are some things that they don’t talk about at either that are vital to your student’s success.

Body Changes

Your teen’s physical development is happening at the same rate as an infant’s. The brain of a teenager is quite different than that of an adult’s. This can make it hard for them to focus at times and can make them emotional as they are dealing with the changes and don’t fully understand them.


Ah yes. Teens are moody individuals. No worries. They won’t be this way forever. It is important that you do not take anything personal. Their hormones are raging and it causes them to say and do things out of the norm. It’s vital to your relationship that you communicate with your teen in a positive manner. Remind them you love them and want to help in any way you can. Even when they are acting “crazy.”


Teens are judgmental and the need to fit in is normal. Some kids can be pretty mean if they are trying to impress others. Both boys and girls have opinions about everything from each other’s shoes to hair styles. Peer pressure is a crazy thing and it makes kids act out just to get attention and impress others. You can help by talking to your teen about doing the right thing and the value of being true to themselves.


Whether or not you are ready your teen will want to start dating. Even though they are discovering their own personal identity they will be interested in others and want to explore being in a relationship. If you have not had “The talk” do it now. They will already be talking about it with their friends. It’s best that they feel comfortable talking to you about the topic. Discuss safety and personal values.

Social Media

This is a part of life now. These smart phones are powerful devices. It’s important that you discuss with your teen regularly about internet safety. Some of the most common issues seen with teens is sexting, asking each other for indecent pictures, bullying, etc. Discuss riles and expectations for internet safety with your teen. Creating a social media contract may be helpful. Get the login information for all of your teen’s social media accounts and have your teen give you their cell phone before they go to sleep or have a cut off time when they hand you the phone.


This can make or break your student. Just telling a teen they need to get organized is not helpful. They need guidance. Help your teen create a system for organization. There are so many options and they have never done this before. Sit down together and make a plan that suits your teen’s schedule, classes, and learning style.

Stress/ Anxiety

We cannot eliminate stress and anxiety completely. We are human. However, we can find ways to combat it. Parents have many years of experience and may already know how to alleviate stress and anxiety when it arises. Teens on the other hand are going through so much and need help understanding stress and anxiety. Guide them in looking at the causes, and together come up with solutions for tackling those emotions. My favorite thing to introduce to teens is mindfulness. There are so many great free apps out there like Breathe and Headspace that introduce mindfulness to people. Mindfulness teaches the value in being responsive as opposed to being reactive with regard to our emotions.

Know the Curriculum

Make a copy of your teen’s syllabi. Ask your teen what they’re studying from time to time. Get familiar with the material. You may be able to access it online. This way you can help your student if needed. Get familiar with Florida standard graduation requirements by clicking HERE.

Communicate With Teachers

Some teachers post everything online and some don’t. I have talked to so many frustrated parents and students. Ask teachers what is the best way to communicate questions and concerns. If you have tried to contact a teacher a few times with no response it is time to contact the administrator or guidance office. Be professionally persistent! Do not give up after leaving a couple of voicemails and say, “I can’t reach anyone.” Try another number or email. Same thing goes for students. Students must not be afraid to communicate with their teachers if they want to succeed. I know some students are intimidated and nervous to talk to teachers but they are human. Just try to talk to them. Some teachers are actually pretty cool. Some are not, but we have to learn to communicate with all types of people. If your student is having an issue with a teacher help them plan what to say to the teacher or help them type up an email. This is a great way to help them develop communication skills.

Finding Balance

There is so much going on! Families with middle and high school students have to juggle so much from homework, to sports, to club meeting, to friends, to family time, etc. Finding balance is key to everyone’s well-being. You don’t want to burn out. Everyone needs to take time for themselves. Do something fun. Do something quiet. Talk to your teen about what kind of free-time activities they like. Help them make time for those things.

I wish you less stress and more success with the upcoming school year. Just breathe. Don’t forget to smile and have fun.