How can we support our kids starting high school?
The transition to high school usually involves moving away from the smaller, safer and more comfortable pond of primary school to a much larger pond.
That said, the new environment of high school is exciting and stimulating and the challenges of this are best met with a positive attitude.
Parents can play a central role in easing this transition from primary school to high school, mitigating the stress associated with it and laying the foundations for success in all areas.
New high school students experience a huge shift towards independence in terms of being organized and responsible for their classes and schoolwork. They may have to abruptly juggle more subjects each taught by a different teacher and requiring different materials.
Assist your child in developing Organizational Skills
Organization comes easily for some students, but for others can require some coaching.
Colour coding subject materials is an easy way to simplify the process of getting ready for school and class. Other organizational strategies include: writing down assessment due dates in a diary, keeping timetable copies at home and school and checking emails regularly.
These are simple efforts, but can make a big difference in staying on top of schoolwork and early high school is the ideal time to begin forming these habits.
Separate Study Location
The environment of study at home is crucial, but often not treated as such. Ideally, the study location should be kept as separate as possible from spaces for others things like eating, sleeping or relaxing.
Students often make the mistake of studying in a bedroom that is filled with distractors or in close proximity to phones and computers.
If there is nowhere in the home that suits this purpose, students could be encouraged to make the trek to a local library where they can study efficiently in a quiet environment.
Increased workloads, complicated social lives and competing demands all contribute to the stress of high school. Stress management is a real skill and learning it should preferably start in early high school before pressure beings to increase.
Healthy balance between academic, extracurricular and social life is key, as well as learning the importance of sufficient sleep and exercise.
Seek professional help if needed
Procrastination is an issue that many students encounter and for some it can become a problem that causes low productivity and poor academic achievement. This behaviour can often be mistaken for laziness or lack of motivation. However, in some students, the root of the cause can be anxiety or feelings of being overwhelmed and confused by school work.
In this case, parents should try to refrain from berating children about academic performance and instead encourage seeking extra assistance from a teacher or tutor or perhaps implementing some stress management strategies. Learning to ask for help is important and parents can help to normalize this practice.
While major changes occur in the academic sphere, arguably more influential changes occur in the social sphere of school. The social aspect of early high school can be a turbulent time where cliques become tightly closed, gossip is rife and a young adolescent’s social universe is their whole universe.
Social tension and drama can quickly affect a child’s entire attitude towards school and ultimately their academic performance. In this era, parents can be of great assistance by simply maintaining an air of approachability and keeping channels of communication open even about taboo topics.
It is important to try to sympathize even with social problems that may seem trivial and avoid making patronizing or invalidating comments. After all, it can be easy to forget how the psychological well being of adolescents is disproportionately affected by a sense of social security.