Many teachers maintain their own websites that provide access to textbooks and other resources, and detail homework assignments, and test and quiz dates. Special resources for parents and students are also usually available on the district, school, or teacher websites. During the high school years, homework gets more intense and grades become critical for college plans. Students planning to attend college also need to prepare for the SATs and/or ACTs.
Amid all these changes, many teens are learning how to balance academics with extracurricular activities, social lives, and jobs. An important way to help is to make sure your teen has a quiet, well-lit, distraction-free place to study that's stocked with supplies. Distraction-free means no phone, TV, or websites other than homework-related resources. Be sure to check in from time to time to make sure that your teen hasn't gotten distracted. Regularly sit down with your teen to go over class loads and make sure they're balanced, and help him or her stick to a homework and study schedule. Encourage your teen to ask for help when it's needed. Most teachers are available for extra help before or after school, and also might be able to recommend other resources.
A nutritious breakfast fuels up teens and gets them ready for the day. In general, teens who eat breakfast have more energy and do better in school. You can help boost your teen's attention span, concentration, and memory by providing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein, as well as low in added sugar. If your teen is running late some mornings, send along fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, or a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Many schools provide nutritious breakfast options before the first bell. Teens also need the right amount of sleep — about 8½ to 9½ hours each night — to be alert and ready to learn all day. But early school start times — on top of schedules packed with classes, homework, extracurricular activities, and friends — mean that it's common for teens to not get enough sleep. Lack of sleep is linked to decreased attentiveness, decreased short-term memory, inconsistent performance, and delayed response time. Most teens also have a change in their sleep patterns, with their bodies telling them to stay up later at night and wake up later in the morning. Ideally, teens should try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. You can help by reminding your teen before bedtime to turn off the phone and limit video games and TV. Napping during the day can also push bedtimes back, so it's best if teens don't nap after school. But try to keep your teen's sleep and wake times within 2 hours of what they are during the week. Learning and mastering the skills of getting organized, staying focused, and seeing work through to the end will help teens in just about everything they do. But this is not usually explicitly taught in high school, so teens can benefit from some parental guidance with organization and time-management skills. Parents and guardians can help teens keep assignments and class information together in binders, notebooks, or folders that are organized by subject. Creating a calendar will help teens recognize upcoming deadlines and plan their time accordingly. Don't forget to have your teen include non-academic commitments on the calendar, too. It also helps for teens to make prioritized daily to-do lists, and to study and do homework in a well-lit, quiet, orderly workspace. You can remind your teen that when it comes to studying and homework, multitasking is a time-waster. Working in an environment free of distractions like TV and texts works best. Planning is key for helping your teen study while juggling assignments in multiple subjects. Since grades really count in high school, planning for studying is crucial for success, particularly when your teen's time is taken up with extracurricular activities.
When there's a lot to study, help your teen to break down tasks into smaller chunks and stick to the studying calendar schedule so he or she isn't studying for multiple tests all in one night. Remind your teen to take notes in class, organize them by subject, and review them at home. If grades are good, your teen may not need help studying. If grades begin to slip, however, it may be time to step in. Most parents still need to help their teen with organization and studying — don't think that teens can do this on their own just because they're in high school! You can help your teen review material and study with several techniques, like simple questioning, asking to provide the missing word, and creating practice tests. The more processes the brain uses to handle information — such as writing, reading, speaking, and listening — the more likely the information will be retained. Repeating words, re-reading passages aloud, re-writing notes, or visualizing or drawing information all help the brain retain data.
Even if your teen is just re-reading notes, offer to quiz him or her, focusing on any facts or ideas that are proving troublesome. Encourage your teen to do practice problems in math or science. If the material is beyond your abilities, recommend seeking help from a classmate or the teacher, or consider connecting with a tutor (some schools have free peer-to-peer tutoring programs). And remember that getting a good night's sleep is smarter than cramming. Recent studies show that students who sacrifice sleep to study are more likely to struggle on tests the next day.