Don't Get Schooled By High School

Melissa Roja Lawlor
June 13, 2012

Blogger Kelly Pugliano shares her tips on surviving high school as a parent as part of the Interview Series.

As the mother of two teenagers, Kelly Pugliano got a crash course in the trials and tribulations that come with high school, including dealing with problem teachers, preparing for college, and more drama! The Mom Got Blog author shares with her tips on transitioning kids out of summer mode, and reveals her saving grace of surviving after-school activities.

Tell us about your family.

We have two high school students, one junior and one freshman, who attend a school that is part of a very large district. If you didn't know any better, when driving onto the school campus, you would think you arrived at a local college.

How do your kids generally feel about school?

They enjoy school for the most part. The workload during junior year is a lot; add on top of that preparing for college and it can be stressful at times. Freshman year is an adjustment as well -- learning how to take finals and more weighted exams for the first time.

Over the summer months, how do you keep their brains working?

Usually over the summer, we don't do much. They have worked very hard all year long and summer is time for fun with family and friends. When they were younger, we participated in the summer reading program at the local library, but that never felt like work because both kids have always liked to read.

What do you worry about most when you send your children back to school?

With high school comes more kids (other than a core group of friends) and more drama.

What are some essential items your child must have before the first day of school?

School supplies are a top priority. We always had fun going down the list supplied by the school and getting brand new pencils, notebooks and binders.

What are some organizational tricks you use to help yourself get the kids ready to go back to school?

We've always had a checkpoint for backpacks; as homework was taken out it never failed a crumpled paper would be found at the bottom that was important!

What are your kids' lunchbox favorites?

Fortunately, our kids like to eat anything and everything. For a long time it was PB&J, but now it is more grown-up offerings: turkey sandwiches, fruit, granola bars, yogurt, salads...and sometimes chips or a cookie.

What healthy things are surefire hits in your kids' lunchboxes?

Any kind of fruit is mandatory every day. If I miss a fruit, I hear about it when they get home! Other options are veggie sticks or slices such as carrots, peppers, cucumber or celery.

Have you ever had to deal with any issues at school? How have you handled it?

Sadly, we have had our share of bad teachers, some who should have retired long before our kids made it to class. You will never meet eye-to-eye with every single teacher, so you make do and support your child the best you can from the home front. On the good side, we've also had really great teachers who have gone above and beyond helping our children be successful.

As you approach the first day of school, what are some specific things you do to mentally (and emotionally) prepare your children for the big day?

At this point in their schooling, there isn't much to do other than make sure they get to bed at a fairly decent hour. The first day back is always fun; you can tell the kids are excited to see their friends. I always make a special breakfast to start the year off!

What's in your child's emotional backpack?

We have always told our kids to not get too "clique-y", that they should try to get along with everyone. That doesn't mean that they needed to be friends with everyone, but [they should] not judge others by who they hang out with. They also needed to prepare themselves for the day that kids they've known for a long time may take new roads, which may lead to an end of a friendship.

Multiple kids can mean multiple activities, carpools, parent-teacher meetings, and sometimes even multiple schools. What are some tricks you use to stay on top of it all?

Carpools with other parents are really the saving grace of surviving after school activities. The neighborhood network that we have is really fantastic! All of our kids are active in sports, clubs and volunteer work.

What tips can you give parents who might be struggling with the transition to going back to school?

Do what is best for your family dynamic. It's a hard transition for everyone - on one hand you want to squeeze every bit of fun out of the last days of summer, but on the other, you also want to get the routine of early-to-bed, early-to-rise started.

Kelly Pugliano is mom to two teenagers who has been happily married to her best friend for 18 years. The freelance writer and first-time novelist maintains a unique blog called Mom Got Blog, a space where she shares life stories, her passion for good food and her love of sports/fitness. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

For more helpful tips, check out the Interview Series: Secrets to Back-to-School Success »

Image used with permission from Kelly Pugliano.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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