Parents shift from caregiver to mentor as teens move from elementary to secondary school

It’s a big change – elementary to secondary school. Grade 8 to Grade 9. Child to teenager. A big change for student AND parents. Dynamics change, responsibilities shift, new opportunities are created.

As a child transitions into adulthood, the role of the parent is to gradually release responsibility and to make the shift from caregiver, teacher and protector to mentor, ally and career/life coach. During the transition from elementary to secondary school, young people desire and seek more independence, but they still require guidance and support.
Students during this transition may say “back off” but what they need is for their parent to actually “lean in” – to stop making decisions for your child, instead guide them as they make these decisions for themselves.

How to make this transition

Being a mentor, ally and career/life coach means:

  • helping your teen find his/her passion and know his/her strengths, interests and aspirations
  • helping your teen create challenging but achievable goals
  • encouraging secondary school course choices that challenge your teen’s current skills and abilities while still providing the opportunity for success [achieving eight credits in the Grade 9 year is critical to future secondary school success]
  • supporting your teen through challenges, decision-making, and both personal and education/career related choices
  • recognizing and rewarding his/her efforts rather than praising the end result/outcome
  • building opportunities to engage in positive career related discussions and experiences
  • connecting your teen with resources and people to help him/her make informed education, career and life choices
  • encouraging your teen to try careers through related experiences like volunteering, part-time jobs, work experience or cooperative education as he/she moves through secondary school
  • staying current and informed about education and career related opportunities

Resources to support the transition

Students are encouraged to visit their guidance department throughout their high school journey to help navigate through their course selections and career options. There are many resources available online as well. Here are just a few:

Pathways course selection parent guide
myBlueprint education planner
Start>Smart Careers

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