Top Tips for Helping Your Daughter Succeed in High School

Top Tips for Helping Your Daughter Succeed in High School

When your child is young, you’re able to help them with school in obvious ways. You make sure they’re up and appropriately dressed in the morning. You walk them to the bus stop or drop them off at school. You check their homework and provide assistance as needed. Once your student advances to high school, however, your role in their education is less well defined. They’re capable of getting up and ready without your prodding (in theory, at least). They don’t need you to wait at the bus stop with them. And the homework, if we’re being honest, is often above our heads so we couldn’t help if we wanted to. So what is the parent of a high school student supposed to do? 

We gathered this helpful advice for how to support your high schooler this school year:

  1. Get Involved. According to, “Staying involved keeps you aware of the school culture, connects you with other parents, and shows your child that you are invested in them and their education.” While your daughter may be mortified if you offer to chaperone a school trip or event, that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to be involved behind the scenes. Consider:

  • Organizing or volunteering for fundraising events

  • Volunteering as a team parent for their sport

  • Attending their performances and games

  • Joining the Merion Mercy Parent Association

  1. Teach them Organization and Time Management Skills. If your child is a senior they have hopefully mastered these skills by now, but if you’re the parent of a freshman, your attention and advice may come in handy, especially early in the year. High school is full of activities that can enhance but also distract from school work. Having a plan to manage one's time is one of the most important skills a student can acquire. Some ways to help your student stay organized and find balance include:

  • Using a journal or organizer to record all assignments in one place

  • Setting reminders on their phone

  • Creating a weekly visual schedule

  • Providing a dedicated homework space

  • Offering rewards if they reach their goals for their week

  1. Be Social Media Savvy. Take advantage of the resources Merion Mercy has made available through The Social Institute. The TSI curriculum is designed to equip students to navigate the complex intersection of well-being, social media, and technology. At a time when students spend many hours a day on digital devices, and cyberbullying and reputation-damaging posts run rampant, TSI equips them to make positive, healthy, and high-character choices that fuel their health, happiness, and future success.

TSI’s supplementary resources for parents provide insight into social media, technology, and student experiences, offering family discussion prompts and informative resources that you can incorporate into family conversations. 

  1. Teach Self-Advocacy. With Merion Mercy as your partner, teach your daughter how to be her own self-advocate, which goes hand-in-hand with her growing independence. If she’s struggling in a class, encourage her to seek out help from the teacher—without you arranging it for her. If she forgets an assignment, gym clothes or her instrument, instead of rushing to the school, consider allowing the situation to serve as a teachable moment.

  2. Be Familiar with the School’s Policy on Academic Integrity. As partners in the growth-oriented development of honesty, trust and accountability in their children, MMA parents and caregivers accept these responsibilities:

  • Read the MMA Academic Integrity Policy (in the Student Handbook) and understand the expectations for teachers, parents, and students.

  • Help your student understand the value of maintaining integrity by following school policy.

  • Help your student(s) prioritize academic work and successfully balance other activities and responsibilities.

  • Provide general guidance rather than specific feedback on assignments that are to be graded. (This also applies to tutors.)

  • Recognize that struggle and risk-taking are part of the learning experience, encourage your student to persevere with challenging material and seek a teacher’s assistance when needed.

  • Support the school and your student by playing a role in addressing any integrity violations that might occur.

  1. Know the Disciplinary and Bullying Policies. Merion Mercy Academy is dedicated to fostering an environment that promotes kindness, acceptance, and embraces differences among individuals. Therefore, like most schools, MMA has a list of rules and consequences for student behaviors as outlined in the Student Handbook. As a parent, it is helpful to know the school’s definition of harassment, bullying and hazing, their consequences, and reporting procedures. 

  2. Take Attendance Seriously. In our post-COVID world, every cough and sniffle seems cause for alarm. And while it’s true that a sick day is in order when symptoms like fever and nausea are present, the importance of being in school cannot be overstated. Students who miss school play catch up, which can be stressful and interfere with learning. If your daughter seems physically healthy but doesn’t want to go to school, there may be issues she’s dealing with that are causing anxiety. A conversation with her, and possibly her MMA advisor, may be in order.

  3. Make Time to Talk About School. Between school, extracurricular activities, jobs, and spending time with peers, it’s become increasingly challenging to stay connected with our high school students. It is, however, still critically important that they see us as their anchors for love, guidance and support. advises, “Make efforts to talk with your teen every day, so he or she knows that what goes on at school is important to you. When teens know their parents are interested in their academic lives, they'll take school seriously as well.”

The way you talk and listen to your teen is important:

  • Listen carefully

  • Make eye contact

  • Avoid multitasking while you chat

  • Talk with your teen, not at her

  • Ask open-ended questions that go beyond "yes" or "no" answers

When teens know they can talk openly with their parents, the challenges of high school can be easier to face.

  1. Encourage Activities. If your daughter seems lonely or disengaged, encourage her to join a school club or sport. At Merion Mercy there are dozens to choose from and these activities are one of the best ways to cultivate a sense of belonging and meet new friends with similar interests. Participation also looks good on a student’s college application and could even lead to scholarships after graduation. Just remember that too many activities can leave a student feeling overwhelmed and overscheduled so finding a balance is important. 

  2. Keep School-Home Lines of Communication Open. A New York Times article states, “The research is clear: Family involvement and positive home-school communication have been associated with improved grades, positive behavior and attitudes about learning, increased participation and increased attendance.” On Back to School Night (plan to be there every year), find out how your daughter’s advisor and teachers want to be contacted and honor those preferences. 

After first encouraging your daughter to advocate for herself, if something comes up that needs addressing, go to the teacher first, not to the head of school. It is the teacher who knows your daughter best and was most likely there to witness the events in question. Your student’s advisor is also an excellent source.

Finally, the New York Times article reminds parents not to “undermine a teacher in front of your daughter.” They hear what you say about their teachers and it’s essential to preserve the student-teacher relationship at all costs.

  1. Don’t Worship at the Altar of Grades. As long as colleges require them, grades will remain the end product of schooling. Unfortunately, grades tend to undermine the motivators of natural curiosity and hunger for learning. How can you help reorient your student’s priorities?

  • Keep report cards off social media. We may tell our daughters that we value learning, but when we gush over grades and hang them on the refrigerator, we’re showing them that’s what really matters. When we humble-brag about our child’s grades on social media, we feed into parental competition, raise the pressure on our child, and teach them that our love and approval is tied to their report card.

  • Focus on the process used to get the grade. Which study techniques worked and which ones didn’t? What are you going to do differently next time? 

With your love and support, high school can be an enriching and exciting experience for your daughter and we’re delighted to partner with you on the journey!