How to help your child transition to high school

Making the move: Kids in year six are worried about how difficult the move to high school will be. The good news is that parents can help them adjust. Photo: Shutterstock
Making the move: Kids in year six are worried about how difficult the move to high school will be. The good news is that parents can help them adjust. Photo: Shutterstock

You probably remember your child's first day of primary school.

That tiny child may have been full of uncertainty stepping into the classroom for the first time, and it's likely you spent time helping them adjust.

The transition into high school may not seem like it's as big a deal - but think again.

The fact is that high school is remarkably different to primary school, and it takes time for a child to get their head around that.

That transition starts in grade six, and it's about more than attending a day at their new high school.

In a survey of more than 1600 kids, Spark Education found that most had similar concerns about the move to a new school.

Those concerns include how they'll learn to manage their time, whether they can keep up with all the homework and assignments, making new friends, doing exams, how well they'll click with new teachers, getting lost in a bigger environment, and whether the work will be too hard for them to cope with.

As a parent, this information is good to be aware of, because then you can support your child through those worries.

Your first step is to have a chat with your child, and really listen to how they feel about starting high school.

It might help to reassure them, but they might also want some practical skills to help them feel more confident.

This is where you can step in to teach them a little about time management skills: how you manage your time, and some ideas for them to do similar.

This might be a good chance to look at where extra-curricular activities fit in: does something need to be temporarily dropped to free up some of your child's time?

Setting up a quiet, dedicated study area can give your child some peace of mind, too.

Year six is also a good time to give your child more independence in their learning, so take a back seat and let them lead the way, as they learn to speak up for themselves, ask their teachers for guidance with school work and other school-related issues.

Big worries: Kids are concerned that it will be hard to fit in and make new friends. Photo: Shutterstock

Big worries: Kids are concerned that it will be hard to fit in and make new friends. Photo: Shutterstock

Just like you might have done with them before starting primary school, try to take your child to the high school as often as possible to familiarise themselves with the environment.

This includes visiting the school website so your child can go through virtual tours, subject information and other details about school life.

It's likely that social issues are also on your child's mind: fitting in with their new peers and making new friends are a big part of starting high school.

You can help by talking them through setting up ways to stay in touch with their best primary school friends, and reminding them that everyone else will also be new to high school and feeling the same level of nerves.

And when it comes to the workload and how to adjust to life at high school, remind your child that the teachers are there to help.

Let them know that a big part of their first term will be spent learning where things are, how to read their timetable, and easing them in to homework.

They're not expected to know everything straight away.

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