Going back to school is not just daunting for little ones – older students can feel anxious too. Our parenting educators have put together some tips for parents of young people starting high school this year.
Many young people find starting secondary school a time of mixed emotions.
While they may feel excitement, fear, confusion and have a sense of curiosity and adventure, most will admit that starting a new school experience can be a bit scary.
They may feel lost and confused, miss their primary school friends and worry about fitting in.
Adjusting to these differences and their new learning environment can be challenging.
Secondary schools are much bigger, anonymous places than primary school where everyone knows your name. New school routines and unfamiliar classrooms and teachers add an extra dynamic.
Friendship circles change and even established bonds can be challenged in high school, as students tackle one of the primary developmental tasks of establishing identity.
Signs your child is not coping may include:
- A short-temper
- Being disagreeable or rebellious
- Withdrawing from family
- Refusing to go to school
- Articulating stress through tummy pains and headaches
While children may exhibit some of these behaviours regardless of the onset of a new school year, if these signs persist after the first few weeks of term, it’s time to speak to the school to help address the source of stress.
It is equally important that parents look after their own well being too. Remember, this can be a stressful and confusing time for you also, as you juggle work, family and other commitments, and try and figure out how much support to offer your child.
Here are some favourite pieces of parental advice drawn from our parenting groups over the years:
- Remember that despite their emerging sophistication, students still need to hear you say you love, approve of and support them
- Provide reassurance by normalising some of the confused and unsure feelings and perhaps share your own high school experience
- Celebrate their strengths: they need to be reminded of what they do well while they tackle challenges
- Be a supportive listener and don’t give advice too quickly: help them problem-solve and encourage thinking for themselves
- Be patient while your student tackles the challenges of first year high school and remember that being organised is usually a learned skill
- Get to know the school community – other parents can be your best resource.