Starting High School
Beginning high school can be a very exciting time for children and their parents but it can also be scary and confusing. There are many changes that children face in this transition, and some teenagers can find the adjustment quite difficult and challenging.
New environment, transport arrangements and routines
Being away from brothers and sisters, and leaving “school as they know it”
Moving from the "top" of Primary school where they felt quite important and special to the "bottom" of high school, where the older students seem to get all the attention.
One teacher in one classroom to many teachers across a number of subjects and classrooms
Shifts in friendship groups, friends being in different classes or at different schools altogether
Lockers, diaries and greater responsibility in organising oneself
Body Image querying as they are surrounded by more developed teenagers- Am I normal, attractive, likeable?
Stresses on the new high school student
With all of the changes above (and more) it is not uncommon for students to feel anxious as well as:
Lost and confused
Missing friends, teachers and their old school
Loneliness and unhappiness while they make new friends
Worried about not being able to cope with the work and new demands of high school
Worry about not fitting in
Worry about not meeting parent expectations
Tired and unsettled in general
Teens may show this stress in many ways: Eg.
Being irritable and short tempered
Being disagreeable and not wanting to talk
Swaying between wanting to be treated like an adult and a child
Changing behaviour in order to impress or rebel or to push the normal boundaries of what is acceptable
What can parents do?
Firstly, remember that this is an important transition time for your child (and you too) and that stress is normal for children (and parents) at these times. Children adapt as do parents to this new world and it won’t be long before this “new school” is normal again.
Reassure your child that it is normal to feel confused and unsure at first and that others feel this way too.
Take a bit more time to ask and listen about their day, focusing on what has been going well, not so well and most importantly what is improving as they get into high school. Don’t advise too quickly, help them to draw out their own solutions
Remind them that they know how to make friends, and of the success they have had in the past. Remind them that adjustments take time.
Encourage them to keep in touch with old friends while building relationships with new friends.
Be welcoming to new friends, encourage contact out of school.
Help your teenager develop a homework routine and assist them to manage their homework, assignments and study over the first few weeks until the new routine kicks in. Some children need longer than others - gauge the support your child needs and work with them, encouraging responsibility for their own learning along the way.
Encourage and support them to join in co-curricular activities and attend functions where they can meet new friends and strengthen existing relationships.
Be patient! Cut them a bit of slack in the first few weeks as they adapt; the tiredness and crankiness does improve.
Get involved - get to know teachers, other parents and your child’s new friends. Even though it can seem a bit daunting at first, attend school functions, and stick around for a cuppa and a chat.
Remember that despite their special moods and those special teenage behaviours, they still need lots of love and support. Parents are usually the best support kids have.
Talk to your spouse, friends, family and work colleagues about starting school. Too often we keep the worries to ourselves.
If you feel your child is having some problems adjusting, please don’t hesitate in contacting someone at the College. Your child’s PC teacher, Middle Leader, Guidance Counsellor or individual subject teachers all have the ability to assist and support your child during this transition.
(originally adapted from “Starting High School” – www.cyh.com/healthtopics)
Wishing you all a wonderful first Term!
Amanda RollCollege Counselloramanda.firstname.lastname@example.orgPh: 4698 7777