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Supporting Your High Schooler Through the IB Program: 6 Parent-Approved Tips & Tricks

If your high schooler is considering an IB education, a pat on the back and an approving thumbs-up, complete with a beaming ear-to-ear grin, is definitely in order. For those parents of gifted students, familiarizing yourself with an IBM program’s prerequisites and workload is non-negotiable. After all, you won’t want to be in the dark when your high school senior starts spending late nights tucked away in your home office.

In a nutshell, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program grants students the opportunity to take college-level courses while still in high school. IB schools (a term referring to any school with an IB program) help students develop the critical thinking skills they’ll need in college and beyond. In these setups, faculty and staff will lend a helping hand as your student tailors their learning experience to their unique preferences and career ambitions.

At its core, the process of obtaining an International Baccalaureate diploma instills invaluable social skills in students. They’ll also become more culturally aware, enabling your higher schooler to connect with fellow students from diverse backgrounds. As a bonus, universities worldwide look favorably on students who have an IB diploma, sending grad students in-the-making down the fast track to financial security.

As beneficial as the IB program is for your overachiever, an International Baccalaureate program will unload new pressures onto your high schoolers’ shoulders. Remember, IB workload isn’t for the faint of heart. Without the proper support and encouragement, your child’s mental health could suffer — making the prestigious diploma worthy of a cost-benefit analysis.

Is setting your soon-to-be high school graduate up for success a top priority? If so, use these tips to support your high schooler as they navigate the IB program.

high school student in IB Program sitting at college library and studying. Girl reading notes at college campus.

Help plan their schedule

IB work makes for a full schedule, meaning squeezing in family time, extracurriculars, and any other essential calendar items will pose a stress-inducing challenge for the inexperienced high schooler.

Work together with your high schooler to create a schedule that fits together like puzzle pieces will help them allocate study time successfully and learn how to balance extracurriculars and coursework. Helping your IB student organize their calendar and tie up loose ends presents the perfect opportunity to teach your child the power of saying “no.” Remind them that they aren’t time-management superheroes — so they shouldn’t try to take on the world with their limited free time. Reassure stress-out sophomores that they’ll gradually refine their prioritization skills as they move through the IB program.

Provide unconditional support

Grades are important, but they aren’t everything. Make sure your child knows you love them no matter what. It’s important to encourage your student to strive for excellence in everything they do, including the IB program. But it’s even more important to tell your child regularly that their worth isn’t contingent on their grade point average. Make a point to communicate to your student that you’ll love and support them regardless of their standing in the International Baccalaureate program.

high school student in IB Program sitting at college library and studying. Girl reading notes at college campus.

Eliminate distractions

You can also support your student as they work through the IB program by providing a distraction-free study environment. Your kitchen and living room might be noisy and overstimulating after school. Maybe you’re cooking dinner, your younger kids have friends over, and the TV is blaring in the background. In short, your home might not be the best place to get quality studying done.

That said, you’ll need to assist your IB student in creating an environment that’s conducive to studying. You might implement “quiet hours” in the afternoon or evening, where everyone in your household quietly reads or indulges in some long-awaited screen time. For optimal academic success, you could help your high schooler create a study-session-friendly corner in the bedroom. As a last resort, drive your student to the library or a coffee shop where they can hit the books distraction-free.

Encourage social activities

With the IB program, an all-work-no-play lifestyle is tempting, but it won’t benefit your student in the end. Relaxing and spending time with friends is essential in helping your child de-stress.

Encourage your student to see friends outside of school whenever possible. To do so, have their friends over for a movie night, drive them to the local bowling alley, or simply drop them off at the park to get some fresh air together. When your high schooler returns to their IB work, they’ll feel refreshed and ready to dig in.

Foster healthy habits

The IB workload is rigorous. In addition to creating a calm study environment, one of the best ways to support your student is by helping them live a healthy lifestyle. They won’t excel in their IB assignments unless they get plenty of sleep and eat lots of protein, fruit, and vegetables. Stock the fridge with healthy choices and consider implementing a family bedtime each night. These strategies will help your high schooler feel prepared for the IB work filling their lockers.

high school student in IB Program sitting at college library and studying. Girl reading notes at college campus.

Trust Your Student

At the end of the day, the most surefire way to support your IB student is by trusting them. Like it or not, your child is growing up and slowly becoming a self-sufficient adult— which means they’ll be assuming more responsibilities as they inch closer to graduation. Chances are, they’re probably doing a great job.

Final thoughts

Give your child space and freedom to figure out the IB program on their own. By doing so, you’re helping them prepare for life post-high school. You’re also showing them that you trust them, which is the best gift you can give your student as they work toward their IB diploma.

About Julee: Julee Morrison is an experienced author with 35 years of expertise in parenting and recipes. She is the author of four cookbooks: The Instant Pot College Cookbook, The How-To Cookbook for Teens, The Complete Cookbook for Teens, and The Complete College Cookbook. Julee is passionate about baking, crystals, reading, and family. Her writing has appeared in The LA Times (Bon Jovi Obsession Goes Global), Disney's Family Fun Magazine (August 2010, July 2009, September 2008), and My Family Gave Up Television (page 92, Disney Family Fun August 2010). Her great ideas have been featured in Disney's Family Fun (Page 80, September 2008) and the Write for Charity book From the Heart (May 2010). Julee's work has also been published in Weight Watchers Magazine, All You Magazine (Jan. 2011, February 2011, June 2013), Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine (Oct. 2011), Red River Family Magazine (Jan. 2011),, and more. Notably, her article "My Toddler Stood on Elvis' Grave and Scaled Over Boulders to Get to a Dinosaur" made AP News, and "The Sly Way I Cured My Child's Lying Habit" was featured on PopSugar. When she's not writing, Julee enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new baking recipes.
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