Starting any new school year can be daunting but none so much as the start of high school.
The move from primary school to high school can cause a lot of anxiety for kids and for good reason. They are going from being the seniors of a familiar school to the juniors of an unfamiliar one. It means learning new routines, meeting new people and establishing new social networks.
Most kids of this age are also dealing with the onset of puberty, where bodies, emotions and self-image are all changing. All these factors can lead to feelings of trepidation and anxiety.
So how can parents make the transition to high school easier for their child?
1. Talk about it
Your child may be worried about certain of aspects of starting high school, but hasn’t verbalised them. Getting your child talking about the differences between primary and high school may help to identify any specific concerns they have. You can then help them work through those concerns and provide reassurance.
2. Get them familiar with the school
Attending open days and orientation days is a great way for your child to become familiar with their new school environment. You could also get a map of the campus identifying common areas such as the library, hall, tuckshop, eating zones and office so they are familiar with the layout and keep it for reference.
3. Establish social networks
Knowing which existing friends are attending the same high school can help reassure your child that they won’t be alone. Also encourage them to join clubs or interest groups at high school, which will help them connect with likeminded people and broaden their social network. Maintaining friendships outside of school, for example through extracurricular activities, also continues to be important for your child’s resilience and sense of security.
4. Get organised
Help your child feel as prepared as possible by getting as much organised in advance as possible.
Things to consider include:
- Transport arrangements to and from school – If this involves travelling by bus, train or walking/riding an unfamiliar route it will help to do a practice run before school starts. Also establish after school care arrangements and what to do in an emergency.
- Technology requirements – Some schools require students to supply their own laptop or iPad. If possible have this in advance so your child can familiarise themselves with it before the start of school.
- Uniforms – Find out your school’s uniform policy. Other things to consider include which days require sports, formal uniform etc.
- Booklist – Resource requirements are likely to be different to primary school.
Keeping open lines of communication between yourself, your child, and the school, is integral for their smooth transition to high school. Remember that your child will need your support and patience during this period of adjustment.
Above all, let your child know that their feelings are normal and the majority of their peers will be experiencing the exact same thing.