The time of transition into high school is exciting and challenging for 9th grade students and their families. 

Your teenager may have many hopes, fears and expectations about high school. There is a lot to look forward to as well as a lot to overcome during the transition into high school and the years following. Your 9th grader has no doubt picked up a few ideas from movies or from older siblings about what high school is supposedly like.

What are your fears about the transition into high school? Slipping grades? Dating? Self-esteem? Maybe you have high hopes for your teen’s future, but knowing how to get them there is a bit less clear.

Changes happen quickly during adolescence. Parents often feel a step behind. Set the tone now for the years to come by being purposeful and prepared for high school in these three main areas. Use these guidelines to help the high school transition be a positive growth experience.

Tools for Parents of New High School Students

1. Help your teen create positive connections with teachers, peers, and mentors.

While much of the focus in high school is academic, these years set the foundation for future adult relationships, both personal and professional. Also, developmentally your teen is creating a social identity that will dictate and shape the way they operate in the world.

Empower your 9th grade student to be authentic and assertive with teachers who are willing to provide attention and healthy challenges. Connect your teen with other adults who can offer guidance, mentorship, and emotional support for forming life tools at this critical age, such as a therapist or a guidance counselor. Prioritize time to build healthy peer relationships to help your teen feel valued and connected through the transition into high school.

You can’t make these connections for your teen. In fact, pushing them to reach out to students and teachers may cause them to withdraw and feel less capable. Instead, invite your teen to notice possible existing connections by asking who their favorite teachers are, where and when they feels most comfortable at school and which new friends she thinks are trustworthy, etc. Let your teenager continue

Give your teen new opportunities to connect outside of school through a sport or other group experience. These methods of facilitating connections for your teen will empower her to build beneficial relationships with friends and mentors.

2. Support a smart decision-making process

Talk with your teen (not at your teen) about the new decisions that emerge during the transition into high school and the years soon to come.

Ask your teen what he thinks before you share your thoughts. Really listen to him rather than just thinking about what you’re going to say next. You’ll learn about your teen’s frustrations, capabilities, and intuition. Your teen will also begin to trust you and consider your input.

Help your teen take on more responsibility by allowing the available circumstances to be opportunities for learning. Allow your teen to make mistakes. Focus on being available if he is confused or hurt rather than trying to prevent anything negative from happening.

When this feels difficult, imagine how you want your teen to be able to think through decisions when he is on his own in the future. You want him to connect to his own values and goals. One of the best ways to open up the conversation now is to do the following…

3. Do an exploration of strengths

Do you wonder if your teen will really be learning the tools that she needs to lead a happy and healthy life? Are you concerned that it’s too much to ask for your teen to be both academically driven and socially and emotionally well adjusted?

The strengths within your 9th grade student can be highlighted in the areas where he or she truly needs them. A generic high school experience may stifle your teen’s abilities and personality. A stronger sense of self and of his or her goals will help your teen avoid negative situations and stay motivated throughout tough classes and life experiences.

Find opportunities for your teen to think outside the box and identify meaningful goals. This will save her from being burnt out at school and from following peers thoughtlessly. Help your teen take charge of the transition into high school rather than falling into negative patterns within a challenging environment.

Resources are available for students who want to excel socially, academically, or personally. Don’t wait for a problem to arise before searching for the things that will help your teen connect to her goals, needs, and sense of self.

Teen LAUNCH offers individual educational and personal goal assessments for high school students, with the expertise of an independent college counselor and a teen mental health specialist to the members of our Path to College Member’s Circle. You’ll also find free content for parents to help you through the high school and college prep process.

Learn more here: Teen LAUNCH

Your Transition Into High School Worksheet

Decide where to start on supporting your high school student by asking yourself a few questions and considering where your teen ranks in each of the three areas addressed in this article.


1. What positive connections does your teen have with mentors and/or peers now?

2. In which area of school or life are they interested in spending extra time and effort making positive connections?


3. What has your teen learned from decisions in the past, both successes and mistakes?

4. What are some ways that you support your teen’s decision-making process? Consider areas in which you are willing to give them space to make mistakes themselves as well as areas in which you can be more involved. 


5. What are some of your teen’s strengths – academically, socially, and as a person overall?

6. What new opportunities will you explore throughout the transition into high school to help your teen identify personal strengths and goals?

Reference this article throughout the year to help you regroup and spark ideas for your teen as they navigate life and the high school experience!

Contact me for more tools and guidance for making the most of your teen’s transition into high school.