At the beginning of each school year, you shop for school supplies and new clothes to make sure that your child is physically prepared for the new academic year, but do you help them prepare for academic success? How can you, as a parent, prepare your child emotionally for academic success? Do you just send them to school with their new clothes and supplies, or is there perhaps a way to also help them emotionally and realistically plan for a successful academic school year?
Discuss Expectations for the School Year
When your teen is heading back to school, you may have different expectations for their academic success than they do. Having a discussion with your child about what the expectations are can help you make sure you are both on the same page. Remembering to address strengths and weaknesses, and be realistic about expectations based on these different strengths and weaknesses, can help both of you feel more confident about the new school year.
Within the conversation, be sure to address the importance of prioritizing mental wellness above academic achievement. Ideally, you can work together to help your teen find a balance between these areas and find success in both, but if one area must be sacrificed, remember that sustained academic success is only possible when your child is mentally well. No amount of academic achievement is worth risking your child’s recovery or mental health, let alone risking depression, relapse, or suicide.
Help Your Teen Set Realistic Goals
When sitting down to set goals for academic success, you can help your teen be realistic about what their goals should be. For example, if they were previously struggling to achieve Cs in most subjects, making the goal to become a straight-A student is not realistic. Or if they struggled in a particular subject in the past, they should not expect to suddenly master that subject now.
Normally, you would encourage your child to set goals to achieve more than they previously had. However, you may wish to point out that after going through treatment for addiction and/or a mental health diagnosis, being able to maintain their previous level and stay mentally well might actually be a bigger achievement than raising their grades.
Teach Daily Scheduling
Another conversation that you can have with your child is to teach them the importance of having a daily schedule. This is even more important in recovery, as they will need to schedule time for daily activities to support their recovery like exercise, meditation, and self-care, as well as attending support meetings and therapy regularly. Adding together all of their academic and social activities that are related to school makes a daily schedule crucial to being able to stay on top of homework and assignments, maintain their mental health, and still have time for friends and fun.
Build in Daily Study Time
Part of the conversation about a daily schedule should include the value of building in daily study time. Teaching them the value of organizing their time before they begin attending school will help them as the assignments arrive and the pressure of tests and deadlines begins to build. Talk to them about the concept of doing a little bit every day as opposed to letting assignments wait until the last minute when they can become insurmountable and impact your teen’s mental wellness.
Help them be realistic about how much time they need to study. When are they most productive? Most people need a break after being in class all day, but delaying homework too long can impact social activities or sleep. Talk about finding a balance between studying and other activities. Adding more study time into their schedule and having extra time to allocate toward fun activities is better than not having enough time to complete work and creating more stress.
Schedule Time for Mental Wellness
Now more than ever, your teen will need to remember to schedule time each day for mental wellness. Adding indisputable time each day for exercise, meditation or yoga, self-care, or other wellness activities will help your child prioritize their mental wellness. Helping them to understand the importance of making this a priority will help them be more productive and successful in all other areas of their life, including academics.
Having a successful academic year will not just happen without planning that involves both you and your child. As a parent, you can talk to your teen and help your child plan for success and give them the mental and emotional tools and skills they need to succeed.
Parents can help their teens plan for a successful academic year by talking to them and ensuring that you and they share healthy expectations for success. Helping them set realistic educational goals and teaching them the importance of making a daily schedule, including setting time aside for both daily studying and mental wellness, will give them the tools they need to succeed. Sustain Recovery, located in Irvine, California, is an extended residential treatment program for adolescents with addiction and co-occurring mental health diagnoses. We focus on giving teens the skills they need to transition back home and be successful. We work to connect them to support where they live before they return home. We know that having family involved in recovery is essential to your child’s success in school and life. Contact us at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our program is right for your family.