Picture your child in their high school cap and gown. Who is the young adult you see standing before you? While we get caught up in the day-to-day, short-term goals of homework and taking tests, it’s important to consider the long-term goal of raising a child who is ready to graduate and take on the world.

This activity can help you explore the knowledge, life skills, and strengths your child needs by the time they graduate from high school.

Step 1: Think about who your child is now

  • Name three things your child loves to do in school.
  • Name three things your child loves to do outside of school.


Step 2: Consider strengths and challenges

Use this checklist to reflect on your child’s strengths and challenges:

Intellectual character

  • Confidence: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Persistence: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Courage: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Independence: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Reliability: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Purpose: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Curiosity: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Open mindedness: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Being inclusive: (Strength or Challenge)


Emotional intelligence

  • Being kind/empathetic: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Being respectful: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Learning to forgive: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Self-control: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Humility: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Integrity: (Strength or Challenge)



  • Eating right: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Getting enough exercise: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Getting enough sleep: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Building healthy friendships: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Healthy ways to manage stress: (Strength or Challenge)
  • Limiting screen time: (Strength or Challenge)


Step 3: Consider life skills

Which of the following does your child need the most help on? (choose all that apply)

Financial literacy (earning, saving money, etc.)
Tech literacy (using computers, various software, etc)
Cultural literacy (learning about different cultures)
Political literacy (understanding politics, voting, etc.)
Organizing their time (planning projects, managing time)
Organizing their space and belongings

Additional information and thoughts about life skills your child needs to develop:

Step 4: Make a wish list

Based on your responses above, list three skills or qualities you wish your child’s high school would foster.

Consider sharing this information with your child’s other parent, principal, teacher, and/or school counselor to start a conversation about how to support your child’s growth.

This tool is part of our Transforming High School series, a collection of stories, videos, and podcasts exploring the practices that prepare students for success in college and beyond. Check out our website devoted to helping parents and educators learn about and implement research-based practices to improve education for all students,

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