A student’s sense of belonging plays a large part in their academic success.

Unfortunately for Australian students (and their parents), many report feeling like they don’t belong in school. For high schoolers, that means anything from feeling lonely or awkward to finding it difficult to make friends. These negative emotions directly correlate with long-term health, well-being, and educational success.

Is your teen nervous about the transition to high school? Are you wondering how to help make the journey a smoother one?

Our guide highlights seven ways to make going to high school easier for the whole family.

1. Tour the School, Meet the Teachers
Part of the fear when transitioning to high school is not knowing what to expect.

You can mitigate this uncertainty by visiting the school before the first day of classes. Many schools offer an orientation which gives students and parents the opportunity to meet teachers and learn the map of the school. They might even meet friends there.

Armed with this information, your teen should feel more confident on day one.

2. Encourage Engagement in Extracurricular Activities
Extracurriculars are activities that a student participates in outside of the normal school setting. That involves anything from chess club or drama to student council, football, or marching band.

Extracurriculars are linked to more positive academic outcomes (including grades and aspirations), pro-social behaviours, and improved attendance.

By participating in extracurricular activities, your teen will learn the values of teamwork, friendship, dedication, and more.

3. Let Them Be Involved in Class Selection
Letting your teen have control of their studies should ramp up their excitement.

Every school offers a selection of elective classes that aren’t part of the required curriculum. These subjects run the gamut—photography, drawing, pottery, computer science, writing, and more.

Allow them to choose electives that they’re interested in, which should encourage them to participate. It may even inform what they decide to study post-high school.

4. Have a Structured Summer
Many families see summer as an opportunity to rest and relax before ramping up again for the new school year. However, that can lead to boredom and restlessness.

Keeping some semblance of a schedule is ideal for teenagers. Free time, balanced with structure, can keep your teen busy while also allowing for fun. Consider adding blocks of time o things like chores, nighttime routines, exercise, summer programs, and more.

Having structure also prepares them for the schedule that’s to come during high school. The high school transition won’t be as jarring since they’ll already be used to a routine.

5. Make a Study Schedule
Speaking of schedule—creating a study schedule with your teen will keep that structure going into the new year. Staying organized can help them focus, prepare for exams, minimise stress, and be successful.

Efficient study schedules make room for breaks, household duties (like walking the dog), dinner, and a good night’s sleep.

Rather than taking away time from your teen, a schedule makes time. It ensures they still have dedicated social time and time for their extracurriculars, all while tackling daily tasks or goals.

6. Monitor Their Stress Levels
This point and the next one go hand-in-hand.

As a parent, it’s your job to pay attention. Is your teen acting upbeat and happy, or do they head straight to their bedroom after school? Have their behaviours changed?

If so, you can offer some perspective as a trusted adult. You might be able to provide solutions or advice. And sometimes, they just want to know you’re listening.

7. Acknowledge Their Feelings
Sometimes, it helps to just sit with your teen and listen to them.

Teenagers want to be heard and understood. Whether they’re struggling in school, having a hard time making friends, or just having a rough day, it helps to know they have someone in their corner who can empathise.

Acknowledge their feelings and listen to them while staying calm and non-reactive. The key word is to listen—more than you speak—about a 4:1 ratio. Put yourself in their shoes and remember to not take their feelings personally.

Make the Transition to High School an Easier One
In addition to these methods, there’s one more thing you can do—become a better communicator.

If you’re finding it difficult to talk with your teen, I can help. My name is Sasha Lester and I’m passionate about helping both teens and their parents navigate the challenging high school years.

Please contact me today by filling out this form.

I look forward to helping you turn your earnest thinking into positive results!