Transitioning from primary school to high school is an important modern rite of passage. You must appreciate that this is a big step for your son. If it was easy and seamless, young men would not experience the sense of having risen to a challenge, and successfully negotiated one of the steps to becoming a man.
High school is not primary school with a different uniform. Most boys will go from being the biggest, most responsible, most knowledgeable in school to being among the smallest, and youngest in school with much less responsibility. Some boys will go from a school where they know everyone, to a Year 7 cohort which is much bigger and full of unfamiliar faces. Most boys who previously had one classroom teacher, will find themselves with six or more teachers, plus a Housemaster, tutor, sports coach and so on.
Encourage your son to embrace this change – it is important for you as parents and caregivers to see the value of that challenge. It is okay to be a bit nervous, or worry whether your son will be happy and make friends. It is also okay to wonder if there will be better sportsmen or academics than him. Above all, it is important to let your son stand on his own two feet. Failure and disappointment are a part of life. Facing a challenge fairly and squarely, knowing that hurdles must be overcome in order to successfully negotiate life, is critical in developing resilience and a sense of wellbeing.
In the end, success is not defined by academic rank or making the A team – it is the quality of the young man and his ability to rise to whatever challenge life throws at him, that is the true measure of success.
Here are some practical tips that you can use in preparing your son for high school and this period of change:
Ask your child about their expectations, fears and what they’re looking forward to about the transition to high school. Share your own experiences from school and normalise any feelings of anxiety that your son may be experiencing.
Preparation is key to a smooth transition and will help to reduce stress. The simple act of visiting the new high school can make a difference. Take your son along to an open day so that he can walk around the school and become familiar with its layout and scale. Orientation days play a pivotal role in helping your son transition smoothly to high school – try not to miss these events. On a practical level, your son should be well equipped for his first weeks in Year 7 – make sure he has the uniform, books, stationery and anything else that is required.
Allow your child the freedom to make mistakes. While there is a lot to deal with such as new teachers, class mates, subjects, and routines, not to mention sports trials, music auditions, assessment tasks, and more – don’t be tempted to protect them from failure. While there is a societal emphasis on success, failure can bring about learning and greater success in the long run.
Encourage your son to be friendly, well-mannered and respectful as this will go a long way in helping him to settle in, and will in turn make him a respected member of the school.
Reassure your son that thousands of young men have made this transition before him. Tell him to keep his head up, his shoulders back and try his best. Counter his negative sentiments with positive ones – by staying positive and determined, the process of overcoming the challenge of transition will make your son stronger.
And finally, if all else fails and your son is still struggling to settle into high school and is showing signs of anxiety, seek help from the school Housemaster or counsellors.
Trinity Grammar School is fuelled by a pastorally aware culture with exceptionally high levels of individual student attention, and we pride ourselves on knowing, understanding and nurturing every student to help them realise their potential, passions and purpose in life.
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