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7 ways you can help your child step up to senior school

For some children switching to senior school can cause some nerves, so how can you help your child make that move more seamlessly?

NEWS 4 Nov 2022

It can seem like a step into the unknown…the move to senior school. Classrooms and teachers will be different. Routines and expectations might change. Uncertainty and unfamiliarity can be a little daunting.

While it’s perfectly natural for a young person to experience some nerves about what lies ahead, it’s important to remember that thousands of children across the country make that same step up into senior school every year – and they survive and can thrive.

“Parents and families can provide plenty of practical support to help the move to senior school run smoothly.”
Diane Furusho, Haileybury Deputy Principal – Student Wellbeing

"Emphasising what young people are looking forward to and the opportunities and experiences that await them in senior school is a good starting point."

“Take a positive perspective from the beginning and ask your child what they are looking forward to in senior school,” says Diane.

“Spend some time together looking at what is available to them in this next chapter. Talk about what will be different and what they’ll be able to do that they haven’t done before.”

What else can parents do to support their child as they move to senior school?

  1. If your child is nervous, reflect together on when they’ve taken a similar step previously. For example, how did they feel when they moved to Middle School? How did they manage those feelings, how did they negotiate the move successfully and how much fun did they have when they settled in? Remind them that they have made these kinds of changes before.
  2. Arm yourself with some information about senior school so you can share that information with your child and remind them who they can talk to at school if they want help. “There will be new processes and systems your child won’t know yet so make sure they know the names of people they can ask for help if they need support,” says Maria Bailey, Haileybury Director of Counselling Services.
  3. “Young people might be worried about making new friends and getting to know where their new classrooms are. There will be elements of the unknown but it’s OK not to know everything – they will learn as they go,” says Maria.
  4. Sort out practical things like school uniform, booklists, devices and locker codes so children don’t have to worry about those.
  5. “Children may worry that senior school will bring more work so reassure them that you will help them plan a routine to manage that,” says Diane. “In the early weeks of senior school, ask them how they are managing and if they need help working out a plan so they can get everything done. Don’t trivialise how they feel, but remind your child that at different times already their workload at school has increased and that it was OK.”
  6. Encourage your child to build a consistent study routine. “But include some flexibility and role model switching on and off from work so children know that when it’s time to switch off, it’s time to relax,” says Maria.
  7. While the move to senior school inevitably brings some changes, reassure young people by also focusing on what is staying the same. “Many of the friends around them will stay the same,” says Diane. School grounds will also remain familiar. Balance what is staying the same with the excitement of the new experiences to come. “Be positive about having new teachers and being able to add to their friendship groups with new connections.

“While moving to senior school may seem a big step and there can be a little anxiety, it’s actually not as big a change as many people think,” says Diane.