Feeling nervous about your child’s freshman year of high school?  Join the club. Parents everywhere share your concerns as the first day of school approaches. Let’s face it. High school is important. The choices your child makes over the next four years help shape future opportunities. That said, a smooth transition to high school benefits not only your child, but you as well. Stress and anxiety are contagious. As a mom of three children, all who have all successfully completed their freshman years of high school, here are some of my suggestions to help make this transition a bit easier. Attend Orientation. Many schools host an orientation (or schedule pick-up program) prior to the first day. Make it a priority for your child to attend – even if it means rescheduling your vacation. The opportunity to gather information, walk the campus and reconnect with school friends is priceless. It will make the first day just a bit less intimidating. Ask for Advice AND Consider it Carefully. If your child has a friend who is an upperclassman, or you have a friend with older children, make it a point to talk to them. Information from someone who has “been there” and “done that” is invaluable. That said, recognize that some advice may be concerning.  If your friend tells you how awful your son’s Geometry teacher is, don’t panic.  Every child learns differently; what works for one may not work for another. Put everything into perspective. Discuss Academics – Be Reasonable. Academics are important – freshman year grades count. Each year comprises 25% of a cumulative GPA.  And, as seniors apply in the fall, many universities will only see the GPA through junior year.  It’s really hard to recover from a bad semester. So, make sure your child is enrolled in appropriate classes. Encourage them to plan ahead, work hard and always give 100 percent. And, more importantly, remind them that as long as they do their best, you will be proud. Focus on the Present. Today, kids are under intense pressure.  They believe they have to take multiple AP classes, participate in tons of activities and volunteer hundreds of hours to go to college. Don’t get caught up in “what everyone else does.” Understand that balance is the key to success. Recently, a therapist shared the following story with me. A local high school student set a goal gain acceptance to a prestigious university. She dedicated every moment to achieving this.  And, she did. Upon graduation, she realized that she wasn’t truly happy. You see, she never took time to appreciate life in the moment. This was a valuable lesson for me (and my kids). While college and the future are important, it is critical to live in the present.  If you only look forward you miss you out on all that the “now” has to offer. And honestly, the now can be pretty fantastic. So, make smart choices, do what is right for your family, and rest assured that opportunities exist for kids of all abilities. Wishing you and your children the best of luck in high school. There will be ups and downs. Take a deep breath, try to remain calm and always ask for help when necessary.  Remember that GAMECHANGER is here to support all of your child’s academic, musical, athletic, and artistic interests. Most importantly, have a great freshman year. Lori Wolk is a seasoned marketing and communications professional and a freelance writer. She authors blogs and articles, creates web content and marketing materials and edits a variety of written work.  As a mom of three children (ages 22, 19 and 17) she enjoys sharing her wisdom and experience with GAMECHANGER’s audience. Need someone to write a blog or article for your local or business publications? Contact Lori at [email protected] today.