5 ways parents can help kids get ready for college

1 Help them get comfortable with challenges

“Our goal is to set our students up for success in their next environment. Part of doing that is teaching them how to deal with the challenges and setbacks that they will inevitably encounter,” says Alex Laube, high school lead administrator at The Cove School in Northbrook. He says they do so by teaching students “to self-monitor their performance and to advocate for their needs” while problem solving. Parents can also help reinforce those skills.

Parents also should try to push their kids out of their comfort zone; doing so provides opportunities to practice problem solving.

“For us, failure is an essential step in the learning process,” Laube says.

2 Reading is fundamental

“Read, read, read,” says Liesl Stiegman of Stiegman Tutoring in Cary. She says reading a variety of materials will help students succeed on both the ACT and SAT as well as in college and recommends materials that challenges students and increases their vocabulary.

Parents can help kids find a mix of books they read just for fun and those that challenge them, and hopefully some that do both.

3 Focus on concentration

Stiegman says concentration is often an issue for students, but the ability to focus is important in college. She suggests having kids summarize as they go when reading a passage and encouraging them to back up and re-read confusing parts.

“If I had known ‘how to read’ like that, it would have saved me so much time in college,” she says. 

4 Teach life skills

Laube points out that there is much more to success in a post-secondary academic setting than just academics. Students also need to develop independence with a variety of practical living skills.

“Parents should teach and practice with their student problem solving, managing their own finances, meal planning and preparation, doing their laundry, and navigating transportation,” he says.

5 Remain calm

Preparing a child to launch can be stressful for mom and dad, but Laube encourages parents to keep their own emotions in check and keep the family stress level low.

“High school students have a knack for finding plenty of stressors on their own—academic, social or even existential. High school should be a time of discovery and learning. Parents should work with their student and their transition counselor to help them discover the program that will help them become their best self,” he says.

This article originally appeared in the issue of Chicago Parent’s Making the Grade. Read the rest of the issue.

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