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Freshmen Year | A Guide for Parents

Did you know our very own Ali Malkin is a published author? Ali, along with her co-author Barbara Gibson, wrote a comprehensive manual for parents that lifts the curtain on the high school experience. The High School Years: A Parent’s Guide offers valuable insights on how to make it through these challenging yet rewarding times, covering topics such as academic expectations, emotional development, mental health challenges, gender identity, dating, technology, and so much more. This guide truly is comprehensive, providing parents with the knowledge and tools needed to support their teenagers through these pivotal years.

As a jumping-off point, we’ll be delving into Ali’s book chapter by chapter to give parents a glimpse into the various topics covered. Today, we’re focusing on one of the most anticipated moments of a teenager’s life: freshman year! This chapter offers practical advice for parents, emphasizing the importance of modeling behavior, discussing limits and consequences, and encouraging downtime and sufficient sleep. It also stresses the value of getting to know school personnel and building a supportive community. From understanding and following directions to managing schoolwork and handling setbacks, Ali’s guide covers essential aspects to help parents and their teens successfully navigate the high school journey.


For teenagers, freshmen year is a time of growth, self-awareness, and discovery, with unfamiliar experiences around every turn. From adapting to a new academic environment to building friend groups to facing new challenges, freshmen year provides the foundation for your teen’s subsequent high school experience. As parents and caregivers, it’s our job to help our teenagers develop strategies to handle the unexpected and foster self-confidence while allowing them to explore their individualism and newfound freedoms. 

Freshmen students are learning to take ownership of their educations and define themselves as young adults. By modeling healthy coping skills and setting fair and predictable boundaries all while offering organizational and academic support, you can set up your teen for long-term success. And if issues do arise, you can work as a team to strategize the next steps and solutions.


  • Remember that your teenager watches & learns from you

  • Discuss limits and consequences

  • Talk about how you’ve handled transitions

  • Encourage downtime

  • Let them sleep

  • Get to know the school personnel


  • Make the mistake of “do as I say, not as I do”

  • Make consequences you can’t enforce

  • Forget to meet their friends

  • Use discriminatory language

  • Assume change comes easily

Topics Covered

  • Limits, explanations, and consequences

  • Building a new community

  • Constructive feedback

  • Listening and learning

  • Sleep

  • Self-advocating 

  • Managing school work & time management

  • Handling setbacks & conflicts

  • Academic growth


  • “You remain the most important role model for your teenager. No matter how many times you hear, “I don’t care what you say or what you do,” they actually do care deeply about what you say and do.”

  • “In ninth grade, more academic and extracurricular choices open up. There are opportunities to get involved in electives, sports, theater, work, and/or clubs. It’s important to note that your teenager should not try to be involved in everything at once: balance is essential.”

  • “Be present in your ninth grader’s life. You need to monitor, not micromanage, and continue to build a trusting relationship with your student.”

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