The Transition to Year 7
By Trevor Norman
As adults who have survived high school, we may look back on our time with many different emotions. Many will speak joyfully of the great experiences, the friendships, the accomplishments and challenges that occurred during those years.
However it is often with a deal of anxiousness that we recall the change from primary school to high school. It is true that most students moving into high school look forward to these changes; new teachers, new friends, following a timetable and moving from room to room throughout the day - what an adventure. However for some, this significant change is highly stressful. This is when it becomes so important to ensure that a student's transition is well-supported by both their school and parents.
Generally speaking, we all tend to feel uncomfortable when we experience or predict events that feel out of our control. Therefore the aim of transition programs should be to ensure that those uncertainties are minimised, while ensuring that the student is helped to feel like they are back in control. This can occur through providing both knowledge and support.
Students should be given the opportunity to visit and spend time in the school that they will be attending prior to commencing. In doing so, they gain knowledge, learn about the routines of the day, where classrooms and teachers can be found and they learn about what will be expected of them when they enter that environment full time.
This sense of knowledge empowers students, as high school is no longer a complete mystery, but instead can be understood and planned for; this in turn provides them with a renewed sense of control.
Parents should take any opportunity that is available for their child to experience high school during the year leading up to them starting high school. A school visit, a day of lessons, perhaps specific transition activities will be provided by the school. All of these are opportunities for a young person to gain knowledge.
Students should also be given every support they need to assert their own control over the start to high school. This should not be confused with providing everything a student needs at every moment, it is still vitally important that high school students develop responsibility. However this process of maturing and development of responsibility should be supported so that students feel safe and secure, knowing that whatever challenge or difficulty arises, there is someone who will support them at that time.
Your child's school may have a well-developed pastoral structure where every student has a staff member who will mentor them throughout high school. Students know that they will receive the support they need and feel confident to learn in a supported and safe environment. Parents need to be involved in their child's schooling through regular communication with this key person, so that the mentor and parents can work closely to ensure that the young person is well cared for.
The transition to high school is both exciting and challenging; however with the right knowledge and support, this experience will be a fantastic start to a young person's high school education.
Head of Middle School
Hunter Valley Grammar School
P: 02 4934 2444