10 tips for a smooth transition to high school

Transitioning to high school need not be a daunting feat. While preparation is important, trying to script the first days and weeks can prove counter-productive. What we want the experience to look like may not be how it pans out, so being prepared leaves us with room to move when it comes to factors we cannot control.

Here are ten tips for a smooth transition to high school.* We’re all about creating a smooth transition, so having positive conversations and connecting with other kids who have been through the same experience is a great start.

  1. Be positive about the transition – Build excitement by talking about all the new opportunities for friendships and activities they’ll have.
  2. Practice the new trip to school – Practicing the walk or bus/train trip beforehand will really reduce first-day nerves.
  3. Arrange a chat with an older teen who’s been through it – If there’s a neighbour or cousin who’s started at a new school in the past organise for them to hang out and hear what it was like.
  4. Make sure everything is organised – Uniform, books and bag are essentials for starting at a new school so help them sort it all out before day one.
  5. Start afresh with a tidy room and desk – If their desk or room is shared make sure the rest of the family are on board with keeping things sorted.
  6. Farewell the holidays – Organise a social day just before school goes back to farewell and, if possible, invite friends from their old school.
  7. Don’t commit too early – It sounds strange but with the stress of making friends at a new school it’s easy to jump at the first people that speak to you. Encourage your teen to be social and not rush getting a new best friend. Good things come to those who wait!
  8. Avoiding comparing the new to the old – Get your teen to look to the future even if they’re missing their old school a bunch.
  9. Sign up to things straight away – Research extra-curriculars and help them decide on some they’ll sign up to in their first week.
  10. Prepare them for stress – the unknown can be really scary but things like breathing exercises, getting active, and having “me-time” can all help with the transition.

*Originally published on ReachOut.

‘I’ll do it my way.’ How can we support students through transition…their way?

Moving from a tumultuous school year into weeks of holidays; from
holidays into a new school year; from one education setting to the next;
or into the big wide world. These seasons are not unexpected but our
emotional responses to them as we anticipate, prepare for and
experience them, can catch us by surprise.

This is not to say that our emotional responses are always negative ones,
in fact often we may be surprised to experience positive emotions in the
face of change and challenge.

The picture featured here provides such wonderful imagery, capturing
individual approaches to transition. Jumping energetically from one step
in the journey to the next; a time for a fresh start and reinvention of self.  Or tip-toeing cautiously, perhaps with fear and trepidation; feeling off
balance. Or taking one measured step at a time; being led by some and
supported by others. And, of course, a full spectrum of approaches in
between.  

The range of responses and unexpected nature of some of them poses a
challenge to traditional school transition processes. While plans and
processes can be put in place, there is a need to be responsive in real time to the needs of students as they transition to or from the many stages of a school year or school setting.

Caring adults within the school environment are critical for the
wellbeing of students and their sense of belonging. Time and access to
these adults when challenges present themselves can present an issue.
Many and varied connections with students across the school can
provide another important protective layer during any transition process.

 
The Peer Support Program not only provides explicit skills and strategies to navigate change and emotional responses but helps students to
establish these critical and meaningful connections and a corporate
responsibility for one another.      

Training for Transition

The transition from a loaded calendar to seemingly endless free time can recharge or unravel children and young people. So how do you help prevent the latter?

Provide Transition Training throughout the year, minimising the impact of the pause in scheduled activity or the cessation of location variation.

Give these training exercises a go:

  1. Maintain some traditions or routines all year round. Start some traditions specific to holiday time too.

  2. Provide opportunities to connect with school friends.

  3. Leave some time in the term time scheduling for boredom. Help younger children to identify what boredom feels like and ways for them to engage in activities on their own.
  4. Encourage children to start a new project or learn a new skill in the home or local community throughout the year so they are not dependent on the organised activities of others to be entertained.

  5. Identify and celebrate strengths and skills that are not linked to school-work or extra-curricular activities. This way children feel they can still achieve and thrive outside of the school environment