By high school, teens should be vastly more independent. They should be able to wake themselves up, make their own breakfast, pack their own lunch, get to school on time and manage their homework—without you having to constantly nag and remind them. If you have been overly involved up until this point, your teen may not have developed these skills yet. Don’t fret—a new school year marks a new beginning! Alyson Schafer, family therapist, bestselling author and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts, provides tips on how you can play a vital role in helping your teen foster independence and succeed in school:


  1. Agreements

Have a discussion with your teen about the year ahead and outline each of your responsibilities. Get them involved in the process! A tool I frequently use to help keep me organized are Post-it Notes. Each week, I start a grocery list on a Post-it Note and stick it on the fridge. It’s up to my kids to populate the list with items they need to make their lunches before grocery shopping day. If it’s there, I will make sure the kitchen is stocked with the necessary ingredients to make their lunches. If not, the onus is on them.


  1. Scheduling activities

Teens seem to think we live for them, but they have to understand that we have outside commitments too. A great way to stay updated on everyone’s schedule is to start a family calendar. One of my favourites is the Post-it Notes Weekly Calendar. This tool helps us get organized and stay co-ordinated as a family. If the kids want to make sure I can drive them to a swim meet, they can simply check the calendar and see if I’m available. Everyone has an assigned colour and can contribute to the schedule, ensuring their practices, auditions and plans are accounted for and not missed.


  1. Homework

It’s a parent’s responsibility to create a quiet and cozy space for children to do homework, and if possible, this should not be outside of their bedroom. On the contrary, it’s a teen’s responsibility to learn to manage their time and focus on the task at hand. If your child has difficulties in this area, be there for them without hovering around every minute of homework time. Help them learn the skills they need to succeed by teaching them how to break assignments into smaller tasks and implementing time lines. Everyone has a different learning style and it’s up to us as parents to encourage them to do their best.