Want to be prepared for your meeting with your ninth-grader's school counselor? Here are some tips that experts suggest.
High school is the time when parents often feel their presence at parent-teacher conferences isn’t needed or valued, but high school is when grades start to count for college, career, and beyond. It’s important for you to continue to stay involved and engaged. As the school work gets more challenging, these meetings can be intimidating and overwhelming for parents. Try to remember that building a relationship through face-to-face meetings is an opportunity for both you and the teacher to partner to understand and support your child and his academic and social development. It is even more likely in high school than in middle school for your child to be invited to the conference, and you should encourage your child to join and participate in the discussion.
No one knows your child better than you do. Despite the fact your child is taking on more responsibility and independence in high school, your involvement is still critical. Counselor Ruth Lohmeyer at Northeast High School in Lincoln, Nebraska, says a survey of her ninth-graders shows parents are the biggest influencers on students’ career and college choices. The counselor will likely be doing a lot of work with your child in planning for her future. Your insights for the counselor are just as important as what the counselor can offer you. The partnership you form with the counselor will benefit your child and help all of you find the right fit for your child after graduation, whether it is a four-year university, community college, military enrollment, or career.
Your child’s school counselor has a more comprehensive view of your child than her teacher may have. Especially in high school when teachers are often focused on their class or subject, counselors monitor your child’s academic progress and make sure she is taking the right types of classes to graduate on time and be prepared for career and college.
Struggling in school
If your child is struggling, the first person you may hear from is the counselor. If your child is having difficulty in multiple classes, the counselor may be brought in to arrange conferences with different teachers. He can develop interventions like monitoring homework completion, having you keep track of grades online, and bringing in tutors if necessary. He may ask you questions about home life – if there’s a place for your child to do homework or if there’s anything emotionally concerning at home that may be interfering with her ability to focus on schoolwork. Counselors are concerned with your child’s overall well-being, and can offer referrals to mental health professionals if your child is having emotional or behavioral difficulties.
Transition to high school
The transition to high school can be difficult for students. Counselors can be a good resource for your child if she needs someone to talk to or additional guidance on classes or activities. Some school counselors will also pair incoming students with mentors in 11th or 12th grade to help ease the transition and give your child another student she can go to for advice.
In some cases, counselors may start connecting with you and your child during the registration process for high school. The counselor wants to make sure that your child is placed in the right classes. If your child is high-achieving he may suggest trying AP or honors level classes. If your child is behind, he may suggest tutoring or other resources to get your child on track.
The counselor will know graduation requirements for your child. You should be aware of classes your child should take. Starting this conversation with your counselor early on will lay the foundation for planning for your child’s academic future over the next four years.
Interests and activities
The counselor is likely to begin asking about your child’s interests and activities. It may be a conversation your child has with the counselor alone, or you may discuss in a meeting. In either case, you should also ask your child about her interests. Ninth grade is a good time to be thinking about what your child wants to do after high school. The counselor can suggest elective classes based on your child’s interests.
Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Julie Hartline, School Counseling and Advisement Consultant, Cobb County School District; Ruth Lohmeyer, Counseling Team Leader, Lincoln Northeast High School; Steve Schneider, School Counselor, Sheboygan South High School; and Sharon Sevier, Advocacy Director, Missouri School Counselor Association.