Surviving and thriving in high school

By Sharon Witt

To win a copy of Sharon Witt’s book Surviving High School – a must for all students entering secondary education – email [email protected] and provide your name, address and contact number. Good luck!  

Entering high school can be just as daunting for parents as it is for your child. It’s a huge time of change coupled with the fact that starting high school often coincides with the onset of puberty … so be prepared for a roller coaster ride!

However, it’s never too early to start getting ready. Start spending as much time as you can reassuring your child that they do not have to face this change alone and that it will be, for the host part, a positive experience.

See related story: Raising resilient kids

Avoid sharing horror stories you may have experienced as a teenager yourself – this will not help your child! Rather, recall any positive experiences you had, especially if you made life-long friends while there.

Organisation is crucial in helping your child cope well with entering high school. Students that are best organised have a much better chance of settling in well in those first few weeks and months of secondary school.

So what can you do to ensure a smooth transition from primary to high school … here are some tips:

  1. Attend ALL orientation days and parent information evenings
  2. Go to second hand books sales for textbooks
  3. Shop around for good stationery deals
    There will be plenty of stores offering huge discounts after Christmas. Take advantage of this and stock up supplies for school and your child’s homework desk.
  4. Ensure your child has everything they need for high school well before school starts for the year
    Having items missing from the beginning of the year frustrates not only your child but the teachers also. Ensure they have enough books to write in for each subject and always have spares on hand at home.
  5. Practise using public transport if your child is using it for the first time
    For many students, changing schools means they may now have to travel on buses or trains for the first time. Help them familiarise themselves with timetables and offer a
    contingency if they miss their transport. If possible, practise the run during the holidays.
  6. Set up a designated study space in the home
    This tip is so important as so many children don’t have a specific area set up to allow them to quietly complete their homework. The bedroom is not recommended. Use any area that is reasonably quiet and well lit. Have a desk set up, computer if possible and stationery items.
  7. Set up a high school folder as a parent
    This contains all school correspondence so that you can know exactly what is happening for your child at high school. If you as a parent have a handle on what is going on at school, you will go a long way to helping your child feel in control and stay organised. I cannot recommend this highly enough! Parents really need to stay on top of school information – at least until your child establishes their own routine and systems.
  8. Encourage healthy sleeping patterns before starting high school so your child gets back into routine
    If they are staying up past midnight in the holidays and waking up at lunch time, they will get a rude shock come first day of high school when their sleeping patterns are all out of whack! Get your child into ‘school routine’ for sleeping during the final weeks of the holidays.
  9. Reassure you child that they will be fine and that you are there to help them settle in
    Most parents are also a little anxious about their child starting high school. But if you are, don’t pass this on to your child. Remain positive in all conversations about high school and reassure your child that they have all the support they need and that they have many teachers and others around to help them settle in!

Sharon Witt has been immersed in the adolescent world for more than 26 years as a secondary teacher in Melbourne. She is the author of 12 books written for young people around the topics of resilience, to help guide them through many of the issues they face in early years, including the best-selling Teen Talk, Girlwise and Wiseguys series, and the newly-released Raising Resilient Kids.
Sharon has also developed a series of ten-week programs for building resilience in our children for use in primary schools in both Middle Primary and Senior Primary. Details at: www.sharonwitt.com.au

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