If your 12-year-old is completing 7th grade this week, it's time for you to start thinking about high school. Here's what you and your rising 8th-grader can do this summer.

Schools are handing out the 2012-2013 directory of high schools (now online) before summer vacation. If your child doesn't bring one home. you can pick one up at the nearest enrollment office. You'll will find information about every high school in the city including: what it takes to get in, what time school starts for freshman, whether there is a dress code, and the number of students who applied and were accepted last year. You can also see the school's graduation rate.

To introduce middle school families to the complex admissions process, the Department of Education enrollment office is offering evening workshops, two in every borough betwen July 12 and 19. Rather than a series of workshops offering different admissions topics, all 10 sessions will present the same information so there's no need to attend more than one. There are two additional two workshops, about the specialized high schools only, on July 24 at Prospect Heights High School in Brooklyn and July 26 at LaGuardia High School in Manhattan.

For parents who have not gone through the high school admissions process, the workshops can be very informative. For most city residents the days of sending your 13-year-old to the neighborhood high school are long gone. Even if you think you know how it works, listening to other parents' questions and answers can be constructive. And, you'll be more prepared when admissions season ratchets up in September for the round of school visits, auditions, and tests.

And for more help, make sure to watch our Insideschools videos: Specialized high schools, How to apply to high school, How to apply to an audition school, Weighing your options: long trip vs short trip, and videos spotlighting individual high schools.

The gigantic high school fair, introducing you to representatives from all schools in the city, will be held on Sept. 29-30; fairs for schools in each borough on Oct. 13-14.  Before you go, be sure to watch our video, Making the most of the high school fairs

What else should you be doing this summer to help prepare your 8th-grader? Check out Liz Willen's posts on High School Hustle about how to study for the specialized high school exam, the perils of choice, the ins and outs of visiting schools, and more. They which include many thoughtful comments and suggestions about schools by parents.