For some of you, the new school year has already begun, but in my district it is still two weeks away. Can you stand one more “back to school” message?

When you read about back to school ideas, most of the time the focus is on elementary school children. And that’s great. Having a good experience in the early years is really important. But I’m a high school teacher and if you are the parent of a teen or are a teen yourself, what can you do to have a good school year? Here are a few of my ideas:

1. Get some sleep. Actually, get a lot of sleep. Over the summer, most teens stay up even later than during the school year. Gradually start working your bedtime back to a more reasonable hour. Remember, as a teen you need lots of sleep. In fact, eight or nine hours is not considered too much by many experts. So if you or your teen have been in the habit of staying up until past midnight, start right now going to bed slightly earlier each night.

2. Get some school supplies together. The focus is always on the younger student with school supplies, but high schoolers also need supplies. Some teachers will want different things, but you can be fairly certain that even seniors are going to need paper, pens, etc. I’m always amazed at the students that walk into class the first day of school with no pen or pencil. Parents, if you have a computer at home, you might want to also be sure your printer has ink, paper, and your teen has a flash drive to transfer documents back and forth. Students also will probably need some way to organize papers. By the time a teen is in high school, they probably know what will work best for them. I’ve seen students successfully use notebooks, folders, accordian files, etc. But stuffing papers in a book is seldom successful.

3. Set up some type of family calendar so that you can keep track of due dates, school days off, etc. I’ve seen 16 month calendars on sale already for 2012, so if you don’t already have one, now is the time. There are also great online calendar options like Cozi that you might try.

4. Think about what will make a successful school year. Encourage your teen to get involved in a club or school activity. Activities help students develop leadership and are often great for building positive relationships. But if your teen happens to be a person who gets too involved, encourage him or her to be realistic in thinking through where they most want to spend their time.

5. Best of all, enjoy these last few years of high school. They will fly by and be over before you know it. When your son or daughter has a school event, if at all possible BE THERE. The saddest thing I have seen is when a student is on the athletic field or in a concert and looks for their parent in the crowd and the parent is not there. They may tell you that it isn’t important, but don’t you believe it.

If you have any other tips or ideas, please comment and share them with us. Here’s to a great school year!