Senior year in high school usually brings graduation, proms, senior trips, awards banquets and so many more last chance opportunities to bond with friends before entering the real world. Many high school graduates, if asked, recall high school with a nostalgic twinkle in their eyes, fondly remembering carefree times spent with friends.
This year, unfortunately, for millions of high school seniors around the world, senior year looks drastically different than the “glory days” of the past. COVID-19 has placed “stay at home” orders on most of us. Now, seniors – who were born during 9/11 – are faced with new realities to navigate and new stories to tell.
So, how can parents support their high school seniors during this pandemic?
Support them Emotionally
It is important to be understanding that high school seniors are feeling emotional right now. They're likely anxious, frustrated, sad or even angry. And why wouldn't they be? They have created bonds with their classmates over the last four years; some of them have even been together since kindergarten. They have been looking forward to experiencing these senior year milestones together that they've longed after for years and they're worried. Will these events even happen? Try to be there for your senior and be understanding of their emotions. And try to remind them that what they're going through now is a milestone. They're living through history — even if it doesn't feel like it right now.
Continue Planning for Life after Graduation
The reality is that at some point in time, we will get back to gathering. High School seniors should continue as best as they can with planning for their futures. Aside from their schoolwork, this might mean virtually visiting colleges that interest them, applying for scholarships or, if your senior has already been accepted at college, encourage them to be in touch with their roommate-to-be over social media, email and even FaceTime. Also, if your senior was planning to take a gap year, encourage them to reach out to other people you know who have done this. Have them interview them about what they learned, liked and didn’t like, and have your senior be uber prepared when their time comes to leave the house.
Is your senior an athlete? Have that senior softball player continue running, playing catch and lifting weights to stay in shape. Many teams are also offering Zoom calls or online chats with their teammates and coaches. Whatever your high school senior had planned, think about ways from home that you can spin their situation to carry on.
Look for the Lessons and Persevere
Since time has slowed down, many families are hunkered down under one roof. While family members are all managing work, school and their social lives from home, everything is moving at a slower pace nowadays. What better time to encourage your high school senior to think about what’s happening in the world? It’s essential that parents stay as positive as they can and let your children, high school seniors included, know that the pandemic has taught us a lesson about what’s important in life. This is a perfect opportunity to teach your senior, who will soon be leaving your home, that disappointments happen, but how we deal with those disappointments is what matters most. Parents can reiterate that there will be things we can’t change, but that is where lessons are learned about strength and perseverance.
Turn Your Free time Into Doing Good
Even if your high school senior is keeping up with their end-of-year classes, maintaining their connections socially, and even dabbling in their hobbies, there is inevitably way more free time in your household than normal. Encourage your high school senior to turn this time into doing good.
There are many good causes that have risen out of this tragedy and there may be opportunities for your high school senior to take part, while adhering to social distancing guidelines. For example, Heroes Feeding Heroes looks for contactless volunteer drivers to deliver food to area hospitals for frontline workers. Check out your local area nonprofit for more information.
So, since the world has slowed down to win the fight against Covid-19, take advantage of this time at home with your high school senior! After all, when all of this is over, they will be the ones leaving your household, entering the work force and helping to jumpstart this economy again. What better opportunity to embrace the simplicity of this time and teach him/her about what what’s important in life — family, health, a safe home and a better world when this is all behind us. So, enjoy your movie nights, family dinners and slower pace. The future looks bright!