12th Grade: What to Expect

Kim Conte
Big Kid

back to school guide

As we count down the days to back to school, the Daily Buzz talks with moms and public school teachers about what you and your child can expect in the coming year.

Today high school teacher   Lbassin and post-12th grade mom 2Protectivemom give us the inside scoop about what to expect during senior year.


Lbassin: Depending on which track your child is on, they should have a full year of math, a full year of English, and a full year of science. It is highly recommended that they also have a full year of social studies also (not required in most states)...Expect a lot of projects getting students ready for college...Seniors should have perfected critical thinking, but it will be emphasized. Also, making sure their writing skills are at the college level is important, as is focusing on study skills and note-taking.

School Supplies

Lbassin: Each teacher is different, but I always recommend at least one notebook for each class and a folder for each class to hold papers. I also recommend a planner: They will need to make sure they can use one when they are in college.

2Protectivemom: Pencils, pens, paper, binders...We spent around $15. It was actually our cheapest year for school supplies.


Lbassin: They should have homework every night. If they are in honors classes, it will tend to be a lot until they take the AP placement exams—then, they are normally done or the workload is a lot less. No matter what the age the parents should be monitoring homework and communicating with their child's teachers...Remember your child's teacher is your partner in making sure your child will be ready for college after school.

2Protectivemom: My son didn't have a lot of homework his senior year; most of what he did at home was study for tests. He did get some homework in his English class, but that was maybe one or two nights a week and didn't take more than 30 minutes to complete. It wasn't expected, but I did proofread papers he wrote and helped him study for tests.

Social Scene

Lbassin: Friends are very important for seniors, especially having other senior friends. Because this is a big milestone year for them, many seniors are scared but won't admit it. I would see seniors sabotage themselves so they didn't have to graduate. It was done subconsciously, but be aware that this can happen.

Be aware that there are tons of parties, and seniors think they are just like college students. They will try to party every chance they can get. I would be cautious about sleepovers. If you have one at your house, monitor closely.

There is a lot of peer pressure for these students—especially to go to college, even if they can't afford it.

2Protectivemom: Friends actually become more important than family at this age. THERE ARE LOTS OF PARTIES!!!!! Fortunately, my son's friends were a great group of kids, and the parties were always chaperoned and no drugs or alcohol was tolerated. They did things like play video games,  corn hole, or camp out.

After-school Activities

Lbassin: There are all kinds of after-school activities and sports for 12th graders.  I always say it is a good thing to make sure they have at least one after-school activity or a job. It helps with time management and keeps them out of trouble.

2Protectivemom: My son has played baseball and football since he was old enough to play; but we did have two boys on our football team who played for the first time their senior year and because of their hard work and determination they got quite a bit of playing time. I thought that was great. It really showed a lot of kids that it's never too late to try, and our football team has a couple of boys this year that are playing for the first time. We also had a girl on our cheerleading squad that cheered for the first time her senior year.

Behavioral Issues

Lbassin: Any behavior issues a student had in previous years will tend to get worse at the end of the school year. Even good students get senioritis—they start slacking off and just want to spend time with their friends.

2Protectivemom: The most common behavioral issue we had to deal with was independence. Seniors think they are all grown-up and don't like to be told that they can't go somewhere or do something. When you tell them no, they want to know why, and the reasons are never good enough. If you aren't careful, there will be many arguments. When you tell them "NO," mean it and end the discussion. They may pout for a while but get over it quick. 


Lbassin: I highly recommend finding what works—car, free time, etc.— to help reinforce proper behavior, but it shouldn't be too much of an issue at this age.

2Protectivemom: For minor offenses at our school, it was detention. For things like drugs or alcohol, you are sent to the alternative school. For fighting, the police are called and the kids were actually taken to jail. Once released from jail, they are sent to the alternative school. We have a Zero Tolerance Policy for fighting, drugs, and alcohol. 


Lbassin: They normally drive themselves or ride with a friend. Be careful about how many kids are in the car at one time. We all know we were crazy teenage drivers, and it is no different now. 

2Protectivemom: At our school most of the kids had driver's licenses and drove themselves. It was an issue for us because we couldn't afford to buy a vehicle for our son or pay the insurance due to the fact that I was laid-off from work in the winter. I drive my kids to school every morning and had to listen to him complain (in the beginning) about how he was the only one that still had to have Mommy drive him and pick him up and it was embarrassing. Threatening to put him on the school bus shut him up fast. 


Lbassin: Work with your child's teachers to help ensure that he/she has the skills necessary to be successful in college. Introduce yourself at Open House and/or Parent-Teacher conferences. You don't know how many times I sit at conferences without a parent to talk to. Also feel free to email your child's teachers and introduce yourself at the beginning of the year. It is important to have a valid email to communicate where the child can not intercept messages.

2Protectivemom: I was asked to work the concession stands at ballgames because my son was involved in sports. Also, we helped do fundraisers for the Senior Trip. Just ask! It doesn't matter what your kids are involved in, there is always something the parents can do. 

Any other issues in the 12th grade?

Lbassin: I think it is important for seniors to make sure they learn effective time management skills for college.  All seniors need some type of post-secondary education—even if it is a trade school or community college. We all know how hard it is to find a job. The more education the better for our children.

2Protectivemom: First of all, make sure they have the credits they need to graduate!  Second, be sure to find time for financial aid forms, applying to colleges, and visiting several colleges.   

What was the biggest issue for your child in the 12th grade?

2Protectivemom: Deciding on a college was definitely our biggest issue! We had to wait to see if he was going to be offered a scholarship for baseball or football. And that was stressful for all of us.

He was offered a scholarship for football, but had his heart set on baseball so he passed that up and waited for the offer for baseball. I was a nervous wreck because most of our baseball games had been rained out, and no games means no scouts to see him play. I wanted to accept the offer he received for academics at a great college, but he was holding out. I finally had to accept the fact that it was his decision, and if he missed out he could go to the community college. I was losing way to much sleep over it.  Anyway, he did get the offer and is going to a great school! 

Once your child makes a decision, stay on top of them to make sure all the paperwork gets filled out and sent in. There will be housing forms, financial award letters, student loan papers, class schedules, the list goes on and on. 

Thanks so much to the 12th grade teachers and moms who helped us present this valuable Back to School information.

Since schools and activities vary depending on the district and where you live, tell us what senior year was like for you and your big kid!

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