The move from primary school to high school is a major step and is a time of big change in your child’s life. Beginning the transition into high school can be a great source of excitement and anticipation, coupled with anxiety and apprehension for all children (and parents!). Here are our top 10 tips for supporting your child on this exciting journey!
1. Check in with your child
Every child’s transition to high school will be different—some may be raring to go while others may be more anxious about the changes. This is why it is important to ask your child how they feel about starting high school. Comfort any natural anxieties that may arise and help them to develop strategies to overcome any specific concerns. Reassure them that it is completely normal to be nervous about this change and remind them that most of their peers will be experiencing the same thoughts and feelings. Perhaps share stories of your own high school experience, or enlist the help of an older sibling, cousin, or friend that has successfully managed their high school transition.
2. Start preparing early
We have all experienced the stress of leaving tasks to the very last minute, and just like any big task, getting prepared for high school is certainly not something we should be leaving until the week before Term 1. Starting early with the preparation will give your child time to process the change and new requirements and will hopefully lead to a smoother start on the first day. Ensure that their uniforms fit, encourage your child to wear-in their new school shoes to prevent nasty first-week blisters and be aware of any textbooks or technology that may be required for learning. From Year 7, students are required to provide their own stationery supplies for their personal use within the classroom. Allowing your child to choose their own stationery can be a great way to create a sense of independence and ownership prior to school starting. Additionally, we also host a Facebook group ‘The SCAS Exchange’ where parents and students can buy and sell uniforms, textbooks, musical instruments and other school items. It can be a great place to pick up any of the necessary school items at a reduced price!
3. New expectations
It’s important to be aware of the differing expectations that come with starting high school. Expectations change as teachers begin equipping students with the knowledge and skills to become young adults. As a result, the typical school day they have come to know over the past seven years will change drastically. High school involves more subjects, more teachers and more peers. Students will be responsible for getting to their different classes on time, and managing their timetable, learning and supplies. Using their locker will become an important part of their day, and they will regularly have to adapt to different or new teaching styles. The school work becomes more challenging, and they will have more homework and assignments as they go through each year level. Of course, none of this will happen overnight, and we will support and guide the students through these changes at each step of the way as they adapt to the new routine and expectations. It may be worth having discussions with your child about the expectations of high school and what that will look like for them.
4. Independence and empowerment
A natural part of the high school transition is the increased sense of independence and self-responsibility. While it can be scary to go from primary school to high school, where students have to take responsibility for themselves, it can also be a great time for empowerment, self-development and growth. As parents, we must resist the urge to do everything for them. While it is important to remind your child of new responsibilities during the first few weeks, we need to lay the foundation to empower them to start thinking for themselves. If you find that they forget things without parental reminders, suggest that they create their own personal checklist to complete before bed on every school night. For example, ‘Are my uniforms ready?’, ‘Do I need my PE uniform tomorrow?’, ‘Is my bag packed?’, ‘Do I need to be at school early for band practice?’ are some common examples to get the ball rolling on a checklist of their own. There is plenty to remember, and we must help and encourage ongoing independence and empowerment throughout the high school journey, while still reminding them that they are not alone and that you have their back.
Friends are an important part of life, and having someone or a group of friends can be invaluable to share the high school experience with. Beyond school, positive friendships are an integral part of the journey to adulthood and help children learn social and emotional skills important for their development. High school means having at least five classes per day which mean students will have the chance to work with a range of their peers, providing ample opportunity to get to know each other throughout the school year! In addition to this, we have a wide range of co-curricular activities (see tip #6), where students can have the opportunity to mix with students from other years with groups with similar interests. Of course, it’s also important for parents to get involved and make friends. Keep an eye out for social events for parents, and consider joining the Parents and Friends Association to get involved in school life and meet other parents.
6. Discover our world of opportunities
Here at SCAS, we recognise that education not only occurs in the classroom but on the sporting fields, practice rooms, stages and many other areas where students might learn and excel. Whether your child has a long-standing passion or would simply like to learn a new hobby, we have an extensive Co-Curricular Program that seeks to inspire interest, encourage passion and develop our students’ talents in the widest range of activities! From band, choir, dance ensembles, chess, sports, art and everything in between, encourage your child to search through our Co-Curricular Activities and Clubs and join any that interest them.
7. Start them off on the right foot each day
Eating a nutritious breakfast and consistent snacks or meals throughout the day can help your child be fuelled for a day full of learning and activity! Numerous studies confirm the importance of adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition for better school performance and general well-being. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast is an opportunity to enjoy some energy-producing carbohydrates to fuel activities (think wholegrain cereals, oats, Weetabix, toast), combined with good sources of protein and fat to keep them full until lunch (eggs, yoghurt, nuts/seeds, milk). Add a piece of fruit and breakfast is a sure-fire way to get your child on the path to improved concentration and consistent energy throughout the whole morning!
8. Don’t expect smooth sailing
Starting high school is a LOT to handle, even for the most confident child. Managing class timetables, finding their way around a bigger campus every period, getting to know new teachers and peers, adapting to new social dynamics, and even remembering to pack their PE uniform on certain days, are just some of the new challenges students may face. It is important to be kind and cut them a little bit of slack during the early weeks. Don’t be alarmed if you have a tired and moody child for the first few weeks as they adapt to everything new going on. As parents and caregivers, it’s important to stay calm and be mindful of all the changes your children are going through. Revisit Tip #1 and check in with them, maybe take them out for a milkshake over the weekend and ask them how they are settling in. Ultimately, support them by giving them the time and space to adjust in their own way and continue being there for them as they find their feet.
9. Where to go if you think your child needs a little extra support
Did we mention that transitioning to high school is a big step? At SCAS, we have a big focus on our 5 Ways of Wellbeing and have interwoven these concepts throughout our curriculum, Pastoral Care programs and our school life. If you find that your child is struggling with any aspects of the high school transition, encourage them to speak to their Year Patron, a teacher that they feel comfortable talking to or the Head of Secondary.
10. Most of all, enjoy this time!
Relax and trust that the teachers, support staff and other students of SCAS will all be working together to make sure that your child has a fantastic first year of high school.