Dear Moms: Navigating the First Few Weeks with a Freshman in High School

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September 3, 2019

As I write this, I am in the first week of my senior year in high school. Having accumulated first-hand knowledge of the ups and downs of freshman year, I understand how hard it can be for tweens to get adjusted to a new, big, and scary school.

As your child hesitates to settle into a new environment, it is important to understand a few key points: your child will be stressed, he or she may be reluctant to give you details and information about their new experiences, and they may or may not love their new life as a big kid. Yes, these are quite general, but coming from a former freshman—they are definitely points to consider.

Initial Stress

Let’s start with stress. When I walked into my first day of freshman year, my English teacher—I’ll never forget him—gave us a copy of The Odyssey to read and told the class that we had to read 50 pages by the next day. Coming from a semi-laid-back middle school, this seemed like a joke to me, and I honestly couldn’t comprehend the sheer amount of material he was asking me to read and complete (not to mention, I couldn’t understand half of the words on each page.)

High school is such a drastic shift in homework and classwork, and your child is likely to be shocked and confused at how quickly one needs to adjust in order to start the year off successfully. Don’t be alarmed at this—it’s easy enough to get used to the heavy load eventually for most freshman.

Not Sharing Details

This one that can be very upsetting for some parents, but your freshman may not want to share every detail about his or her first couple of weeks as they may have done in middle and elementary school. The new aura and environment surrounding high school come with a sense of matureness and responsibility. This new, grown-up school may make your child feel that they need not tell you how their lunch was and what their favorite teacher wore that day.

Being in a new school may give your freshman the idea that it isn’t “cool” to tell their parents about the small things. But don’t worry, I am now a senior and love to tell my mom what I ate for lunch. The sense of being older and responsible goes away pretty quickly as well, especially in my case.

Resenting Being the Big Kid

Your freshman may secretly (or publicly) resent their new “big kid” status when entering high school. When I was a freshman, the transition from teachers holding my hand to having to deal with real-life problems on my own really scared me. I assumed that because I was in high school, I shouldn’t tell my mom when something “little-kid like” was bothering me, and I bottled up the stress that occurred from this new adult title and kept it inside for too long.

This is extremely normal for freshman, as going into a new and unfamiliar place is a lot of pressure and can seem like the biggest thing in the world. All of these new and scary dilemmas are things I can assume will happen to most parents, but with that assumption I can guarantee that your child will love their experiences they will face throughout high school, and these first few weeks of freshman year are only a stepping stone that, while it may be bumpy and they may slip a few times, will be a great experience in the long run.

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