Wayne’s Word – February 24th, 2017

Principal Wayne Helder

Wayne Helder’s Blog

February 24, 2017

Freshman Year

The uncharted territories of high school are filled with apprehension for both parents and their rising freshman students. As students make the transition to 9th grade, students may feel as if though they are being thrust into an entirely different world. From the last day of 8th grade and to the end of summer’s escape, students will return to classes met with the reality of no longer being the kings and queens of middle-school, but must now accept their role as the “new kids” on campus. As their children struggle to adjust to this new outlook on life, parents will have their own abundance of concerns. They will dwell on each decision and worry about whether they are doing what is right for their students, but it’s important to remember that there isn’t always a right answer. To borrow the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”, it’s important for both students and parents to know they they are not alone in this journey.

With major changes on the horizon, parents and students need to be prepared for the long road ahead. Upon entering high school, students will find that the decisions they make regarding their academics and extracurricular activities will have consequences as the competition to outperform one another will slowly begin to be a primary focus. Fine arts will provide new opportunities to better themselves as artists and musicians, but will also bring forward new challenges as they work alongside talented, more mature students. Athletics will provide similar adversities as they must compete and train for positions on teams filled with older – and sometimes bigger, stronger – athletes. Though these endeavors provide exciting new opportunities for students, they can also lead to frustrating, yet teachable, moments.

Apart from the frustrations of academia that may confront students, parents will face new challenges at home as their children become increasingly invested in the social opportunities that come with being a new high schooler. It can be a struggle for parents and their children as each one holds strong positions on how much freedom and mobility students should have. It is in these times that the importance of the partnership shared by a family, their church and their school becomes glaringly evident. Over the many months of freshman year, parents and their students will be tested as they stand on the edge of the next eight years of their lives.

Ninth grade will not necessarily be easy for students. This is a year seen as a “right of passage”. Due to this crisis of identity, parents will need to expect a slight push-back from their students as they wrestle to find their way. The greatest challenge during this exploration of the self is that students will also be faced with greater academic tests, more homework, and a much larger general workload. Working with unfamiliar teachers and surrounded by upperclassmen,  students will be doing everything thing they can just to stay on their feet. In the midst of this onslaught of responsibilities students will still strive for more independence and fight for less imposed restrictions. It may take parents time to understand this “new” outlook on life that their students hold, but it’s important to remember that students need their parents now more than ever. When conflicts arise, parents should take a deep breath, pray and then respond to their student and the situation.

Despite this new influx of exciting new opportunities, students may begin to feel the weight of more responsibilities. All of the sudden, their future is theirs. Realizing that parents and teachers can’t build their future for them – and that the ball is in their court to take action – can be a frightening thing for a student. It’s especially difficult when they may not even be thinking about college, let alone sophomore year, and it seems that the people around them have everything figured out. As time is flying by, students are not concerned with slowing down; however, this is not true of their parents.

For parents, this is joyous time, as their students continue to grow toward young adulthood. In thinking about this exciting time, I’d like to offer some words of encouragement as you embark on this journey with your students: don’t give up and don’t let go. Keep working at it; the relationship is going to change but they still need for you to be there for them. Let students handle everything they can, but be their support team. Make an effort slow down, and set aside time to be there for them and allow time for family engagements. Know who your kids are spending their time with as they will end up sharing similar values. They may want to pull away, but encourage them and make it evident to them that you are on their team. Keep breathing and remember God is in total control, he knows you and your student, trust Him, trust His leading and everything will be OK!

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