With young people up and down the country having just made the transition from Primary School to High School it is important that we understand how stressful this time can. High school is the place where so many of our greatest friends and memories are created, which means that if our young people aren’t able to settle into the routine with a good core group of friends, it may cause them many problems in their ongoing school life, and after all we want our young people to have the best possible start they can get.
After a quick browse of the internet looking for issues for young people in their transition to high school, the learning links web page highlights the varying emotions young people may experience through their transition these include:
• concern over safety,
• a feeling of belonging versus independence,
• grief and loss associated with the loss of childhood, missing people such as teachers and friends, loss of environment, loss of safety and familiarity,
• concerns over their identity,
• self-esteem and confidence issues,
• a feeling of being overwhelmed,
• anxiety, nervousness and worrying,
• a strong desire to do everything right,
• isolation and feeling misunderstood,
• and/or depression and sadness.
As you can see a lot of these issues revolve around social, academic and personal issues highlighting significant reasons for young people to become unsettled and vulnerable whilst in this transitionary period. If these issues are not managed correctly and addressed it could create a significant risk of the student dropping out altogether, due to the young person becoming disengaged. This then creates a problem risking future career and employment opportunities due to a young person leaving school early (Darmody, 2008; Frey, 2009), highlighting the need for a young person to ensure they are best equipped for their time in high school.
Ok… so it’s important not to panic!! I mean seriously, don’t, we have found a resource that will help ease our young people through the transition. But first our young people need to know that they are not the only person going through this change of school and that most students will feel the same too, reassurance will help so here are the tips that will help to steady the stress of attending a new school.
• Stay in contact with your “old” school friends, particularly while you haven’t made close friends at high school.
• Give it time. Everybody starts off with no friends but soon you will have a new group of friends that you hang out with and have fun with.
• Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know – they will probably appreciate it and then you will know someone.
• Ask the student counsellor or one of the teachers to help you if you are struggling with school in any way – maybe you can’t manage the workload to start with, or can’t find your way around the new school. Help will be there if you ask.
• Get involved in school activities (music, sport, debating), and you will meet new people with the same interests.
• Look at the positives of being at high school – new school facilities, more independence, more variety in classes, some choice in what you want to study.
• If you feel like you are being harassed by anyone at your new school, go to someone you trust and talk about it.
• Get organised. Use your timetable and diary to keep on track.
• Pack your school bag the night before so that you are sure you have everything you will need for the next day’s lessons.
• Be yourself. Don’t try to impress others by showing off your skills or being a ‘try hard’. You will be spending a lot of time with the same people in the next few years. You have plenty of time to get to know each other.
• Make the most or your chance to learn, asked questions if you don’t understand. Use your time well. It’s your time wasted if you don’t do your best.
Hopefully these tips will help your young person make the best start they possibly can to their life in the new big school, which over the next 6 years of their life’s will give them a multitude of memories that will last a lifetime and the education to build their futures!
Author: Aldo Trapanese
Youth Worker – Youth Team
Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services
Darmody, M. (2008). Mapping Barriers to Successful School Transitions in Comparative
Frey, A., Ruchkin, V., Martin, A. and Schwab-Stone, M. (2009) Adolescents in Transitions:
School and Family Characteristics in the Development of Violent Behaviors Entering High School. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 40, 1-13.
Hanewald, R. (2013). Transition Between Primary and Secondary School: Why it is Important and How it can be Supported. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38(1).