High school is a daunting prospect for many pre-teens ready to embark on the next stage of their schooling. For some parents, the disbelief that their pride and joy is almost a teenager goes hand in hand with the anxiety of them starting high school. If this is you, you can rest assured that you are not the only one experiencing these feelings, with studies showing the transition to high school is an exciting yet critical change that leaves some families overwhelmed by unfamiliarity.
Most high schools provide transition programs, in the second half of Year Six, which help to alleviate concerns and ensure that students feel a sense of familiarity and support in their upcoming new environment. Students requiring extra specialist support usually have access to extra transition sessions and important information about each student is shared between the primary and high school.
Whilst schools take these measures to ensure a smooth transition, some students and their families remain consumed by the impending change. The good news, however, is that there are ways in which you can assist in preparing your child for high school that are proven to be effective.
Here are some practical ways in which you can help ease the transition:
1. Organise for your child to visit the school and become familiar with the environment as well as practicing the route your child will take to school each day. If they are catching the bus, perhaps take a drive to the bus stop and follow the route to and from school. This will reduce anxiety and create familiarity around the school and how to get there.
2. Facilitate opportunities for your child to get to know other children who will also be attending the same school. Seek out other families in the same position and team up – check out to see if there are any existing social groups in the school and get involved.
3. Encourage your child to be more independent by giving them the opportunity to make decisions, manage daily chores and complete homework. They could devise a schedule or timetable with you to follow and then self-manage the tasks.
4. Listen to your child and give them the opportunity to speak freely about how they feel throughout the process. Communicate any major concerns to either the high school or their current primary school and seek help in supporting your child, if required.
As featured in: Glenmore Gazette, Emu + Leonay Gazette, Mulgoa Gazette - July '18
Sara Drebber is an educational consultant, teacher, writer and mother of three.