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WHAT MAKES A “GOOD” HIGH SCHOOL?

Imagine standing at the edge of a waterfall, peering through the mist onto a vast landscape. The sun blazes on the horizon leagues and leagues away. You cannot go back. You’re compelled to leap, to move forward beyond the veil by forces from within and from without. Yes, there is a way forward, you know. But what is it?

A good high school creates opportunities for a wide range of experience and self discovery that empower a youth to move forth bravely, with confidence, beyond the protection of childhood and into the vastness of life.

The high school experience should balance the students’ academic needs with their longing to find meaning in the world. A good high school is organized to support that balance.

The Denver Waldorf High School is the best for preparing teens for success.

Helping Your Teen Get the Most Out of High School

As a parent, you’re deeply invested in making sure your teen is prepared for adulthood. You want to make sure they have the best resources, the right environment, the best curriculum. And you want to make sure they get the most out of the resources they do have.

Helping your teen get the most out of high school and make success inevitable is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Here’s what we mean.

First, Know Your Teen

When they were small, your child was easy to predict. You could almost peg them to a developmental chart and choose tasks and activities based on their preferences and developmental stage.

Your teen is an entirely different story.

As a high schooler, your teen now has a full-range internal life. They’re a fully developed personality with strengths, preferences, weaknesses, and dislikes. What they’re developing now is character. And to do that, they need your help.

Swimming in a sea of teens all learning their place in the world, your teen could question their sense of direction. You can help them stay on track, hone their unique skills, and prepare for success by being there to help them keep perspective.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. How they learn. Learning is different for everyone. And since you’ve been watching them learn and grow since birth, you’re better suited than anyone to guide your teen as they become aware of their learning style.
  2. How they’re motivated. Motivation is a universal component of success. Do you know how to get the most out of your teen? If you do, then you’re in a grand position to teach them how to motivate themselves. Teach your teen how to set their environmental stage for success, how to pair things they don’t like with the things they love to get everything done and enjoy doing it. You’ll teach them to set goals and overcome procrastination, two skills that will help them become successful and protect them from the mental and emotional health problems that plague so many of today’s youth.
  3. What lights them up? Your teen may not be aware of what they like, what they’re good at, beyond a few things they do all the time. Help them grow their repertoire by understanding what they already love and helping them expand on that by trying out related activities.
  4. Who do they want to be? Think beyond the careers your teen is considering or the lifestyle they’d prefer. Think about who your teen looks up to? What traits and attributes does that role model have that inspires your teen’s adoration? Knowing what your teen identifies as success by understanding their role models gives you everything you need to know to start finding local role models and mentors to help your teen develop their interest seriously.

Be Supportive

When they were young, being supportive was so easy. They brought their artwork to you and you adored it. They sang to you and you swooned. They showed their fears and you propped them up with your confidence in their ability to learn and grow and overcome their challenges.

But the challenges were so much simpler then.

Now, your teen stands on the edge of adulthood. You know that the consequences of their actions and decisions now could shape the rest of their life. Their indecision could keep them from getting into the best college. Their fear could keep them from getting the best job. Their focus could keep them from gaining the skills they need to be successful.

Your anxiety is high. Their anxiety is higher. Why? Are these things even true?

The short answer is no. Just as when they were younger, the best thing you can do to help your teen learn and grow and overcome their challenges is prop them up on your confidence in their ability to find their way.

Success is intangible; it looks a little different to everyone. And the paths to it are many, varied, and growing in multitude every day. As a matter of fact, in today’s global economy, the most successful individuals are those who are empowered to create new paths, new options.

Remember, the more support your child receives from you, the more they learn about trust. Trust builds confidence, a key ingredient in success. One which takes time to grow and cannot be learned as easily as facts or technical skills.

There are many ways to be supportive of your teen’s development in high school.

  1. Create a home-school connection. It’s so important for teens to learn to view the different components of their lives as pieces of a whole. Too often, the true inner life of a developing teen gets lost in the gap between home and school. Creating a strong home-school connection helps bridge that gap, and helps keep that inner life in the light of the teen’s development – and your relationship.
  2. Model Organizational Skills. Especially for creatives, timeliness and organization are difficult skills to hone. They’re also universally imperative. An organized teen becomes an organized adult, and research shows that organization staves off common maladies like depression and chronic stress. There’s a fine line, however, between modelling organizational skills and nagging. Organization can look different from person to person. So, instead of dictating an organizational style, explore your teen’s style with them. Help them develop that style over time. It’s a great opportunity to be thrilled with their quirks they way you were when they were younger.
  3. Help your teen stay motivated. In high school, your teen is navigating so much. Making sense of the present, preparing for the future. Fresh out of childhood, they’re expected to lay the framework for a sturdy adulthood when the only thing they know about being an adult is you. That’s why you’re so important. Teens tend to compare, and allowing them to compare themselves to you simply isn’t good for anyone – they’re a different person. Instead, learn your child’s joys, their aspirations, and remind them from time to time what they’re working toward. There may or may not be a well-defined future ahead of your teen at this point. But there is always a next step. You can help mitigate frustrations and teach them to keep their eye on the ball by encouraging them to remember why their hard work is so important to them.
  4. Listen. This can be the hardest thing for a parent to do well. You want to show, you want to teach. You’ve been there, done that, and you know the way to overcome these troubles. But really, you only know the way for you. What your teen needs is the confidence to figure it out themselves, the trust to be allowed to figure it out themselves, and a place where they are safe to celebrate wins and throw up their hands at setbacks from time to time; a place free from judgement or even unsolicited answers. Sometimes your teen may not even have anything to say. Listen to them anyway, listen to their expressions and feelings. Give them smiles and hugs, no strings attached. This is how your teen will learn to keep stress low, build relationships, and solve problems on their own. In other words, this is how they’ll learn to be successful.

Find the Right School

Now that you’re empowered to help your teen get the most out of high school, you must ensure you find a high school with the staff and the resources to support you. You want to find the right high school for your family. But what is the “right” school? How will you know?

Here are a few traits to look for:

  1. Determine the traits of the right school. The most important thing to look for in a school is allyship. You’ve dedicated yourself to helping your teen grow into a successful adult. You’re serious about building a bridge between home and school so your child’s inner life is supported as well as their academic development. You need an ally who shares your commitment to the development of your whole teen; who will work with you and with your child to empower them to define and achieve the success they were born for.
  2. Ask your teen what they want in a school. Your teen is the one who will have to go to school day in and day out for four years. Shouldn’t they have a say in where they go? Of course. Ask your teen what programs and offers they’re hoping for in a high school and add them to the list of prerequisites. They may not get everything they ask for, but you’ll be able to sweeten the deal with something they’ve identified as important to them.
  3. Get suggestions online and from friends and family. Word of mouth is an excellent way to get a feel for a school before making the investment of calling or scheduling a tour. Ask around to get objective feedback from trusted parents about schools they’ve chosen.
  4. Take a tour. So, you found a school that looks perfect – online anyway. But high school is a serious investment for your teen, and you only want to go through this transition once if you can help it. So before diving in and making the commitment, schedule time to tour the grounds and see faculty and staff in action. Be sure you have all your questions and requirements written down before you go so you don’t forget to clarify anything while you’re there. We’ve created the High School Tour Checklist to help. “Download it here”

Schools are part of larger ecologies, primarily human and cultural. These ecologies change; the characteristics of each will grow and reorganize. Today, that happens more quickly than ever before. A good school will realize that. It will have a curriculum in place to prepare young people to move forth into a rapidly changing world with confidence in their ability to adapt and even drive changes in the human and cultural ecologies for the greater good.

Most importantly, a good school will draw out your teen’s strengths and help them find the path to their place in the world. Though that is a little different for every child, every person, there are some similarities we all share. The need for varied experience to cultivate a rich inner life, for instance.

To learn more about how the Denver Waldorf School can prepare your teenager for lifelong success, please email Brie Kaiser at admissions@denverwaldorf.org or call (303)777-0531×106 to schedule a tour or our rich school community.

Be sure to bring the High School Tour Checklist with you. Don’t have one? Click here to download yours.

Download the High School Tour Checklist now.



To begin the High School admissions process at The Denver Waldorf School