Five tips to prepare your child for high school

The transition to high school means there are big changes a comin’ for your teen. You can help ease any worries your child may have by preparing them before Term 1 begins. Here’s how.

preparing your child for high school
Cluey Learning Thursday, 20 January 2022

Starting high school is a huge milestone. It’s totally normal for your child to be battling nerves about their first day (and every day after that). It’s an exciting time, with many opportunities and a broader curriculum, but it also takes a bit of getting used to. It can be a big transition, with more complex course material, a new social circle, and a completely different class schedule.

From day one, things will be different. They’ll have new teachers and classrooms that are often spread across a larger campus. Some class periods may also be longer than what they’re used to from primary school.

For many children, going to high school feels like they’re starting all over again. As students navigate a heavier workload and greater independence, they may struggle to make the decisions needed to stay on track, and to know when and how to ask for help. Luckily, there are some practical things that you can do to help your child prepare for high school. When your child feels supported, it’s much more likely they’ll make the most of the experience. Here are our top tips:

  1. Show up prepared

Preparation may seem obvious, but simple things like knowing where their classes are or what bus route to take in the morning can make a big difference to those first days. Simply talking with your child about their expectations and worries is the most powerful way to prepare them for any new school year.

If your child is particularly anxious or sensitive to change, it’s a good idea to help them prepare a few weeks before they start school. Talking about their new school in a positive way, and going for a walk around the campus, is a great way to familiarise your child with their new environment gently.

It’s also a good idea to limiting screen time in the lead up to day one, to help them get into the rhythm of early bedtimes. Plus, quality sleep will make it easier for them to sit and concentrate in class all day when school starts.

Parents and students will receive a list of required school supplies well in advance of the first day and teachers expect their new students to come prepared. Make sure your child has the correct shoes, uniform and bag, and tick everything they need for a successful first day off the list.

  1. Make the most of school offerings

If your child’s new school offers virtual tours or an online walkthrough on their website, check it out together. Getting familiar with the layout of the building can make that first day at school a lot less chaotic. It’s also a good idea to attend ‘meet the teacher’ events offered by the school, so you can ask questions and get a feeling for what’s expected of your child.

Most high schools offer an orientation before the start of the year too. During orientation, they get the opportunity to map out where their classes are, meet the teachers, and maybe see a few friends or meet new classmates. When they show up on the first day of school, they’ll already recognise a few familiar faces which can help ease those first-day nerves.

At the beginning of the year, the school may give your child an academic assessment. This is used in many high schools to help identify students who may require additional support in the development of key literacy and numeracy skills. Teachers also use a range of other assessments to identify students’ learning needs.

  1. Know what’s expected academically

High school students will be expected to be more independent, self-reliant and self-motivated than in primary school. In their first year of high school, students will attend English, Maths, Science, Personal Development, and Health and Physical Education classes. In addition, they will learn about Technology, Music, Visual Arts, Geography, History, and get taught Social Studies and a second language.

Strong literacy skills—including a wide vocabulary—can influence success in all areas of learning throughout high school. You can help your child develop their literacy skills by doing a range of activities together that are focused on speaking, listening, reading and writing. If you need more flexibility to suit your busy family schedule, take a look at our online tutoring options. It’s a fantastic way to help prep your teen for whatever high school will bring.

  1. Encourage reading

It’s hard for the humble book to compete with the likes of Snapchat, Tik Tok and YouTube, however, research shows that teenagers who enjoy reading are more likely to succeed in high school.  

There are some strategies to encourage your teen to read more, and the best way to create a culture of reading in your home is to read as much as possible yourself. If they see you sitting down with a cuppa and good book, it’s more likely they’ll choose books over apps too.

To support this, you could let your child choose a book from the young adult fiction section in the bookstore or library periodically. Allow them to read whatever they find engaging, and that doesn’t have to be literature. The books and topics they’re drawn to might not be your favourites, but don’t discourage their preferences. Reading is reading.

  1. Get social

One of the most daunting parts of starting high school can be leaving behind the safety net of their friends from primary school. It’s possible that old friends will attend the same high school classes but your child should also be prepared for a whirlwind of new social activity and adapting to a different social hierarchy.

You may worry about your child’s safety at high school, and it is important that they know that they can turn to you if they’re concerned about anything. Bullying can happen face to face or online, or in any indirect form that makes your child feel uncomfortable. It can happen on or off school premises or on the way to and from school.

Children may find it hard to talk about bullying, but there are signs to look out for that may suggest there is a problem. Stay alert to possible problems that could cause your child to feel depressed or socially isolated. Talk to them openly and don’t hesitate to ask for help from the school or a counsellor if you are worried.

Social connections are crucial for health and wellbeing, but they are vital for academic success, too. The teenage years are tumultuous and young adults are busy establishing their sense of identity. Their social understanding of the world is changing and progressing, and they think daily about their social interactions.

When they start high school, they can test out clubs, attend events, or join a team to participate in a sport or activity they are interested in. Some of the best parts of high school are the friendships built and that often happens in teams or during outings and trips. Encourage your teenager to always be themselves and to be open to new friendships and experiences. They will find their tribe.

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