Every high school culture is different. Even though you went there once, it is now your child’s turn to go. And as much as you may want to help, there is only so much you can do. The rest will be up to the new freshman.
First off, don’t frighten them with stories of impossible tests, huge amounts of homework, horrible teachers, and awful detentions. If anything, get them psyched by telling them what a great time you had. Do not just tell them; give them some solid examples. Better yet, give them solid examples that could quite possibly become their examples someday.
Some kids want to go off on their own, others want to stay under the parental wing a bit longer. Be receptive to their actions. If they begin to draw away, understand that they are growing up, and respect the fact that they are growing up.
Go to the orientation and freshman nights. That way, they can at least go around the school and get a vague idea of how things work.
Make sure that they have lunch money, or that they bring their own lunch. Be on the safe side and give them some money in to take with them. The cafeteria will be very mixed up on the first day, and sometimes money doesn’t make its way until the middle of the week.
High school is the best time for teenagers to realize who they are. Encourage them to look for clubs that they can join. You’d be surprised at which ones exist at the high school level.
Check to make sure that they have all of the right paper work. Students will need IDs and schedules, for sure. And be prepared for lots of papers that will have to be signed that night.
Have the backpack ready for the morning. Being rushed on the first day to anything is a horrible experience. That means have it full of pencils, notebook paper, notebooks, pens and anything else that you might need.
If your child is going to take a cell phone or iPod, make sure that it is off. Having their beloved electronics taken away on the first day will not make for a pleasant memory. At least remind them to turn it off. After that, it is their own fault if they are caught with it.
Whatever you do, do not spend an hour taking photos. A handful is all you really need. They will be nervous, and being forced to smile and act happy will not make it any better.
The few days before school starts, suggest that your about-to-be freshman get together with their soon to be 9th grader friends. As comforting as a parent figure may be, being near someone who will have to go through the same event as you is reassuring.
In the end, it really depends on the child, or rather, young adult. This is where the parents have to start letting go. Where they have to admit that their precious little baby is growing up.