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Transitioning your child to high school

While some kids can’t wait to get to high school, for others it can be a pretty scary prospect. Even children who are normally confident and independent can find the shift from primary school to high school a bit difficult. From different subjects and teachers to a new campus and friends, there are many adjustments to contend with.

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It can be a tricky time for parents too. Understanding all the new high school requirements and procedures and how best to support your child is not always easy. Here is an overview of the key changes and what you can do to prepare your child for the transition to ‘big’ school.

Getting there.

The local primary school is generally within walking distance of most students’ homes, but when moving to high school students typically have to travel further. This may involve taking public transport. In some states, school students are entitled to free travel for school purposes and should receive their travel passes within the first few weeks of school. If your child is unfamiliar with using public transport, practise taking the bus or train during the holidays before school starts.

Sample days, inductions and orientation camps.

Many high schools offer sample days during the final year of primary school to give students an experience of their new school environment, the types of classes they will have and the structure of the school day.

Year 7 students will typically begin school at least a day earlier than students in other years in order to let them settle in and find their way around before being bombarded by older students. During induction, students are often assigned an older buddy or set up in a peer support group. This allows them to ask questions from a more experienced student and also helps establish a friendship network.

Another great way to develop confidence and make new friends is orientation camp. Usually held within the first few weeks of high school, Year 7 students head off for up to a week with their peer group and usually their peer support leaders, buddies or school prefects. During this time, students participate in bonding activities, are given opportunities for teamwork and leadership, and get to socialise with a range of students.

Different classes and teachers.

One of the biggest challenges for students moving from primary school to high school is having different classes with different teachers in different classrooms. The best way to manage these changes is to do the following:

  • Have a clear, easy to read timetable with colour coded subjects and matching coloured workbooks.

  • Label each book with the student’s name, class, subject and teacher.

  • On a school map, mark the classrooms where the student will have their lessons using the same colours that are on their timetable and books.

  • Encourage them to move between classes with at least one other friend and make sure they feel confident to ask teachers or other students where things are.

  • Quiz them on their teacher’s name for each subject, which room they are in and what colour that subject is for them. For example, Mrs Jones is my teacher for Geography in Room 21 and the colour is green.

Although there are a number of new challenges and experiences for students moving from primary school to high school, there are also many opportunities for kids to show greater independence and personal responsibility. Equipping your child with some basic knowledge and skills will help them to tackle the transition with confidence and pride.

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