When you’re parenting teenagers, September might seem like the most wonderful time of the year: your children are back in school, so you know where they are at all times, right? But as any mom or dad will tell you, the academic year doesn’t give you a break from parenting. Teenagers are surrounded by their friends all day and may be connected online all night. As a parent, you need to be ever vigilant to ensure that your kids are safe.
That’s why we’ve collected this list of back to school tips for parents. Here you’ll find concrete advice and recommendations for keeping your kids safe – even when they’re out of your sight.
Staying Safe: Back to School Tips for Parents
For many teenagers, the best part of school is social. But when your children are making new friends – online or in person – it may introduce them to realities that you weren’t quite prepared for. In order to keep your kids safe, we recommend the following steps.
- Meet the friends. Make sure to learn their full names, cell phone numbers and addresses of any new school friends. If you think you’ll feel safer, invite the new friends to your home for the initial meet and greet. Don’t allow your children to take trips or car rides with the new friends until you’ve met them.
- Meet the parents. Ask your children for their friends’ parents’ telephone numbers. Your children may grumble – nobody said parenting teenagers would be easy – but two sets of parents keeping an eye out is safer than one. You should also consider exchanging information about what kinds of cars you drive, so that you (and the other parents) will know what to look for if your children go out together.
- Meet the teachers. Your teen will spend more time in school than awake at home. One of the best back to school tips for parents is to get involved with your children’s education. Teachers may pick up on problems that you miss, and children whose parents are involved with their schooling tend to fare better while there.
- Meet the bus driver. Parents tend to forget about school bus drivers, but you trust them to take your children safely to school and back home again. Plus, your children are making new friends on those buses who you may not know. It helps to know who the driver – and those new friends – are when you put your kids on the bus.
In the Cloud: Internet Safety Tips for Parents
Because schools are making the shift to web-based learning, your children will spend more time online doing school work than you may expect. To help you keep more children protected while online, we suggest the following internet safety tips for parents:
- Use parental controls on all computers – even those belonging to your teens
- Limit time spent on social media sites
- Ask teachers about online homework assignments ahead of time
- Stay with your children while they do their homework
- Eliminate internet access on your child’s cell phone
- Help your children with their online homework assignments
- Remind your kids that anything they put online is public knowledge
Remember that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help when it comes to parenting. Teenagers are undergoing incredible hormonal changes, and their personalities may appear to change without warning. Teachers and school administrators have years of schooling and skills, and they may be able to offer some valuable advice about keeping your kids safe and sound, in school and out of it.