Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta
There is no shortage of helpful tips for school starters: practise eating from a lunchbox, go for shoes with Velcro not laces, a spare hat is a must-have. But students starting secondary school for the first time often seem to be overlooked in the ‘back-to-school’ blitz…this one’s for their parents and carers.
Sure, they’ve already been at school for seven years. Isn’t high school just more of the same?
Some of the major adjustments for new high school kids include studying a broader range of subjects, adapting to a new timetable, multiple teachers, usually a larger cohort, making new friends and managing an increasing workload as well as more independence.
As a secondary teacher myself, I’d have to say that some students start high school more ready than others. Are there skills that students starting Year 7 should have developed that will help them to make the most of the opportunities ahead? Though you’re probably expecting me to talk about literacy and numeracy, I think there are some less recognised essentials.
One of the most important skills for secondary school is being able to speak up and seek help if you have a problem. Let them know that you’re there to support them, and that their school is too. Social skills are really important, including knowing how to support friends who may be struggling. If you can share some good habits around time management and a sense of ownership over their learning, you’re helping to set them up for success.
Like at any transition time in a child’s life, there can be a few tears, uncertainties, challenges and tantrums (even for preteens) and you might need to show some self-care too. Need more tips? They should be ready to make their own lunches (after making their own bed!) and learned to tie their own laces long ago but a spare hat never goes astray!
Greg Whitby AM
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta