Parental thoughts on high school orientation

Parental thoughts on high school orientation

In the past 24 hours, my thoughts on my daughter starting high school next week have run the gamut. I’ve changed course or contradicted myself several times, typically within a few hours. There’s a lot to process in terms of both emotions and information. For me, those are often related.

Here’s what’s gone through my mind as our family has gone through high school orientation sessions for both parents and students.

“School starts in 10 days and I’m clueless. I’m nervous about how this year is going to go.”

No schedule, no supply list, no bus assignment, and a lot of questions all led to me being rather on edge on Monday, 10 days from the start of school. Fear not, I know it’s important to be calm for my kid. And I did my very best to be zen, at least outwardly. But in my head, I was really wishing I knew more than I did and trying hard to not to fear the unknown, and to embrace it instead. Easier said than done sometimes.

“These educators gave me tons of info! They seem to have a great philosophy and approach. This is going to be great!”

Most of the necessary information was revealed over a few days and then there was an informative parent orientation last night. It was at the conclusion of that event that things felt under control.  I particularly appreciated the school principal explaining that they have high standards for students and believe that offering a lot of support is key to helping kids reach those high standards. I think knowing there are people who want to help and support your child makes any parent feel good.

“I just got run over by an upperclassman. Not much has changed since I entered high school in 1990.”

The band was practicing outside when I walked into the school. I was a little surprised to see how I automatically fell into step, a callback to high school marching band days that seemed oddly familiar.

Then a group of boys pushed by me to get to the door of the school. It wasn’t a full body check, but enough to surprise me. When I turned around, one of the boys stopped, mumbled something about “didn’t know you were a mom . . . really short,” and stepped to the side deferentially. The first part felt like a flashback from my freshman year of high school. The last part did not.

“Holy crap, none of this is at all familiar to me. Every single thing has changed since I was in high school. Every. Single. Thing.”

That was approximately 10 seconds after my thought that nothing had changed. Because the universe is funny that way.

In the way way back (okay, early 90s), incoming freshmen weren’t given computers, we had a computer lab.

We were not emailed math homework prior to the start of school, because we did not have email. Very few people did.

And we weren’t broken into small groups to help ease our transition, we were tossed in our own with wishes for good luck.

It’s just different. Very different.

“Yikes, there’s some financial responsibility involved here.”

The bigger kids get, the more expensive they become. I realize this is obvious, but that applies to school fees, too. I was grateful that we could afford them and that the public school district helps those who could use some financial assistance paying the hundreds of dollars.

“Wahoo! I am off the hook! I love not being responsible!”

That sounds worse than it actually was. Every student in the school gets a computer. There is a contract with terms of use that each student must sign. My daughter signed and saw that there was space at the bottom of the form for parent signature. She turned to me and the person working registration said, “She doesn’t need to sign.” Love that the child is solely responsible.

“These were stupid shoes to wear.” – sorry, there’s no corollary for this one

Never occurred to me that my relatively comfortable and somewhat fashionable sandals would be an issue. I pop them on when running errands frequently and I’m fine. But these shoes were not appropriate for the amount of hoofing required of high school students. The school is large, as I learned first hand walking around with my daughter. Several times larger than the high school I attended, and with more than four times the number of students at my high school.

“I love the school bus.”

I know that most parents watch their children board the school bus for the first time on the first day of kindergarten. Due to living close to elementary and middle schools, there was no bus service. Until today, when my daughter climbed aboard the twinkie and headed off to orientation. Finally, she will ride the bus to and from school every day. My heart swelled with gratitude and I think I heard a choir of school bus driver angels singing.

“I got this.”

When my daughter was feeling a bit nervous about high school and navigating a school of 3,000 students, I showed her this awesome Vine of U.S. gymnast Laurie Hernandez before she mounted the balance beam in the Olympics. She whispered, “I got this.” Then she nailed her routine. It’s a great example, for both high schoolers and their parents.

 

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