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«A Resource Guide for Parents and Teens Developed and Compiled by the Youth Council of the DuPage Workforce Board A Letter to Parents: Your teen’s ...»

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A Resource Guide for

Parents and Teens

Developed and Compiled by the Youth Council

of the DuPage Workforce Board

A Letter to Parents:

Your teen’s transition from middle school to high school is one the of most

important steps in their lives. Academic, social, and career issues will be an

important part of their development in the next four years. Our goal is to provide

you and your teen with the information, data, and access to resources to provide you with the tools to navigate these important years successfully, in order to achieve your teen’s true potential upon graduation.

Please don’t feel the need to read the entire guide at one sitting, rather, we hope you will use it as a tool kit and retrieve information on issues that you and your teen are dealing with at various times in their high school careers.

Thank you for your interest. We welcome you feedback.

Regards, Members of the DuPage Workforce Board Youth Council The DuPage Workforce Board is funded through the Workforce Investment Act, and responsible for oversight of workforce development activities within the county through interaction with employers, the current and future workforce and the community.

STEP UP – A Guide for Parents and Teens


MODULE ONE – Successful Transition to High School  Why is this transition so important?

 Frequently Asked Questions and What You Can Do Now  Drop Out Prevention MODULE TWO – Academics  Illinois Graduation Requirements  Common Core Standards  The Importance of Math  Behavioral Problems and Alternative High Schools  Teens with Learning Disabilities  Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment Opportunities  Career & Technical Education (CTE)  Postsecondary Options MODULE THREE – Career Planning and Employment Trends  How Parents Can Help  Where Am I Going From Here? A Career Planning Guide  Preparing Our Youth for Tomorrow’s Workforce  STEM: What is it? Why Does it Matter?

MODULE FOUR – Social and Behavioral Issues  Building Teen Self Confidence  The Importance of Resiliency  Being Cell Phone Savvy  The Facts on Bullying  Substance Abuse  Teen Pregnancy MODULE FIVE – Community Resources for Parents & Teens Module One


Why is the transition to high school so important to my student’s academic and career success?

A positive transition from middle school to the first year of high school is one of the most critical factors for high school success and graduation. A supportive high school environment, parental involvement, supportive teacher relationships, positive role models, economic security, and meaningful post-secondary goals are the key factors that contribute to student success.

Moving from the smaller middle school environment with team clusters that work with the same groups of students, less independence, and fewer social stressors into the more impersonal high school environment that expects high levels of self direction, anonymity especially in large high schools, the emotional issues of driving, dating, and course selection, as well as, teachers that are focused more on academic content vs. adolescent development all contribute to stressors that impact this movement from eighth to ninth grade. This tool kit is meant to provide you with the core essentials that will provide you with the information you need to support your student during this critical phase of his or her academic career for the next four years.

Why Parents?

Extensive research has shown that parents are one of the most significant influences on the success of their students in high school. Your support, communication, behaviors, and attitudes are the key factors that can contribute to a positive high school experience. Reading, writing, and math skills are the foundation for learning in all subjects. One of the most important things parents can do is help their children build these skills in their elementary school years.


The high school years are a busy time for families of teens, who are rapidly changing as they develop physically, mentally, socially and emotionally.

Teens spend more time thinking about their future and discussing topics about which they feel strongly. They are able to think more abstractly and understand more complex issues than when they were at age 13.

Many teens take on part-time jobs, extra-curricular activities and more challenging classes at school.

At the same time, many teens expand their social life and do more activities apart from their families.

While teens enjoy their new-found freedom, they are often uncertain about making good decisions and depend on their parents to help them. Parents can help prepare their teens in the high school years by setting limits for their behavior, and most importantly, listening and talking with them.

Below are a few examples of the abilities parents can expect their teens to show.

If you are concerned about your child’s learning or behavior, talk with your child’s teachers, the guidance counselor, the school principal or the district special education coordinator.

What Children Do: the High School Years

• Understand complex issues;

• Take on many responsibilities including work and extracurricular activities;

• Spend more time with friends;

• Need time alone as well as time with others;

• Plan for their future.

What You Can Do Now Grade 8

1. Meet with teachers during the fall and spring conference periods.

2. Career exploration is available through www.bls.gov/k12 and www.careerexplorer.net

3. Use the summertime as learning time. Check out computer camps, science programs, performing arts opportunities, etc.

4. Join the Parents’ Association and attend meetings.

5. Encourage your child to join at least one student club or activity.

6. Set up a folder to save report cards from every term and transcripts which should be received each year.

7. Remember that colleges will consider grades in all subjects,beginning with ninth grade when evaluating your child’s applications.

8. Encourage your child to pursue a strong academic program, including foreign language study starting no later than tenth grade (as Advanced Regents diplomas require three years of foreign language study).

9. Summertime is learning time. Your child should consider taking advanced coursework or registering for internships (paid or unpaid). Students who fail a class should retake it as soon as possible to stay on track, to graduate on time, and to ensure more college/career options.

10. Review graduation requirements, including required courses and exams, with your child.

11. Information is available at the Department of Education website or through the guidance counselor. Make sure that you understand graduation requirements and college-ready requirements.

12. Focus on homework as well as class work. High school will be more challenging than middle school, and will become more so each year.

13. Compile a list of three colleges that interest your child. Include the GPA and SAT requirements.

14. If your child does not have enough credits, consult with a guidance counselor or advisor at the school.

15. Encourage your child to read outside of school.

What You Can Do Now (continued)

16. Make sure your child creates an appropriate e-mail address that will be used for communication to colleges and universities, possible summer jobs, and internships. A straightforward e-mail (yourname@gmail/yahoo, etc.). Most information about the status of college applications will be e-mailed.

17. Remind your child that entries on Facebook or other social networking sites are accessible to college admissions officers and prospective employers. Your child should use good judgment and be mindful of his or her entries.

18. Ask whether Advance Placement or Dual Credit courses are an option for your child. Check with a teacher, guidance counselor.

Tips for Helping Your Child Transition from Middle to High School

1. Attend planning meetings for choosing high school courses with your child.

2. Ask your child about her goals for high school and after high school. Listen.

3. Help your child set high and realistic goals.

4. Tell your child about your hopes for his future.

5. Ask the school for information and a school handbook prior to the beginning of the year. This should be provided in your home language. Read this information and talk about it with your child.

6. Check out the school website.

7. Ask about opportunities for students to shadow a high school student.

8. Attend orientations and open house events.

9. Visit the school building with your child before the school year begins to help her become familiar with the new building.

10. Talk with your child about what clubs, teams or other activities he can join at school.

11. Encourage your child to develop relationships with other students with similar interests.

12. Talk with other parents and students about their experiences in this school.

13. Ask open-ended questions like, "How's it going?" or “What have you been learning?”

14. Make comments like, "You seem upset. What happened?" Then listen.

Expect your child’s transition to be successful. Remember the adjustment will take time. Your positive outlook can help your child; let him know you are confident in his ability to do well For High School Students  Maintain contact with your child’s teachers throughout high school.

 Monitor school attendance. If your child is skipping school, it may be a warning sign that he/she is having trouble.

 Encourage your child to seek out extracurricular activities or employment where they can develop positive relationships and have success outside of a classroom setting. Many schools provide after-school and summer programs that cultivate new interests. Encourage your child to participate in at least one extra- curricular activity at school or with other students. These activities can help your child feel part of the group, important to the school, and more motivated.

 Help your child explore career options that interest them and the education needed to be successful in those careers.

 Let your child know that individuals who earn a high school diploma are likely to earn twice as much each year compared to those who don’t have a high school diploma or equivalency.

 Help your child establish graduation as a priority. Keep track of the credits he/she needs in order to graduate.

 Identify postsecondary goals. The most important questions to ask are: What interests your child? What is your child good at? Postsecondary technical training or two-year community college programs are appropriate paths to meeting employment goals. If attending a four-year college is the way to reach his/her vocational goal, put steps in place to make this happen.

Note: Having an occupational goal that is meaningful and exciting for your student will enable him or her to stay motivated to reach that goal, despite difficult academic coursework that may not seem relevant at the time. The ability to defer short term enjoyment in order to achieve a long term goal is one of the most important life skills that will enable your child to overcome the inevitable challenges in the next four years. Emotional resilience which is covered in a later section of this guide is one of the most important coping resources that your student can develop.

Are You a Role Model?

Teach your children how to succeed in school. That means recognizing the importance of school attendance, actively supporting the goals of school, and encouraging/requiring school attendance. It

sounds easy, but sometimes parents send mixed messages. Ask yourself the following questions:

 What kind of example do we set for our children at home and work?

 Do we arrive on time?

 Do we keep appointments?

 Are we responsible for completing assignments?

 Are we respectful of those in positions of importance?

 Do we work as team members?

 Do we strive for excellence in our work and try to improve?

 If we were to receive grades for effort, achievement and attitude, would we be proud enough to post them on the refrigerator door?

 Would we receive the award for perfect attendance?

At home, you can help your student in many ways:

 Talk about your child’s learning challenges and accept them.

 Try to refer to challenges as learning differences; your child is smart, he/she just learns differently from other students.

 Foster your child’s strengths, talents and interests.

 Give lots of praise and support your child’s efforts.

 Middle and high school years are not the time for parents to keep an arm’s length.

 Know what is going on in school and due dates concerning homework, projects, and other learning tasks.

 Talk with their teachers for guidance on ways to assist your child with storing information.

 Set a good example and turn off the television, computer or iPod, put down the phone and read or write.

 Monitor your teen’s progress and organize information relating to your child’s education and possible learning challenges, including samples of your child’s schoolwork, those where his/her learning challenge is evident and ones which show his/her strengths and successes.

Source: Sylvan Learning Planning for Success: Supporting Transitions through High School to College and Career There’s more to college readiness than earning a high school diploma. The phrase college-ready means that a student has the knowledge, skills, and behaviors to successfully complete college courses. There is an academic path that your child should follow starting in middle school to ensure that he/she can enter college without having to take remedial classes.

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