The move to high school is a major transition time for kids because it marks the stage when they shift from being a dependent child to a more independent teen. Most children are ready for this change, however many find it stressful. The good news is that most difficulties usually sort themselves out in the first year of high school, particularly with a helping hand.
Getting organised for travelling to a new school
Starting high school often requires travelling to a new location, and for many children using public transport on their own for the first time. To make this change easier, have a couple of practice sessions catching the train/bus with your child. Help them to take the lead and be confident, knowing where to get on and where to get off.
Take a photo of each stop as a reminder. Teaching your child how to use maps on their smartphone is also a great back up plan in case they get lost in the first few days.
Finding their way around their school
Your child will have to find their way around a new (and often very large) school, find their locker and get to each class on time. Schools often give out maps of the school campus during the orientation or on the first day. Let your child know this and to keep a look out for it. Also remind them to identify landmarks around the school to help find their way around, for example, turn right at the flagpole to get to art class or look for the canteen to know you’re on the right track to get to your English classroom. Getting lost can however have an upside. Many children tell me that this often led to meeting a new friend and finding their way to class together.
Getting on with children, teachers and adults
Kids engage with a wide range of new people when they start high school. They’ll meet lots of new peers, will shift from having one classroom teacher to having up to 8 subject teachers (each with different teaching styles), and will be liaising with a large school admin staff. This demands good people skills. Talk about this with your child; see if there is anything that worries them about it and together work out some strategies for addressing their concerns.
Sometimes children can experience more complex difficulties adjusting to high school. Signs they might be struggling include:
Talk with your child about these signs. If needed, follow this up with a discussion with the school year advisor. This is part of their role and they have lots of experience in how to support children and whether further help is needed.
A child’s transition to high school is also a big change for parents. Many parents have mixed emotions about this. It’s helpful to talk to other parents. It’s also important to regularly talk with your child about school and other aspects of their life. Let them have opportunities to mature and spend time with their new friends outside of school. Keep the channels of communication open and supportive. This will help your parent-child relationship to adjust in ways that work well for both of you.