First Year at High School - A Parent's Guide


You are no longer the only influence on your teen's life and you have to accept that bravely! Your child's first high school teacher will (hopefully) be the one to lay down the ground rules for life at the school. The school will play a large part in influencing and impacting their self-esteem and their career as a young student, writes Sandra Buckingham.

As always, there will be discipline, respect and time-tables to adhere to. But this time, the workload will be heavier, your child will have to maneuver his way through the school as his subjects change by the hour, and he will have to pack and unpack his bag at his locker and make sure he makes it to class on time with the right stuff! You will have covered all of this at orientation before school starts.

As a parent, you have access to the teachers and headmaster of the school and must ask questions before, during and after that first time. Don't be too mistrusting or nagging though; have faith that the school you have chosen for your child will nurture and educate him in the best way possible. Homework should come easily to your freshman child, but you should still take time to look over and check how your child is proceeding. There is always help available if your child struggles.

Talk to them if you notice your child's grades have slipped, their demeanor has changed, for example if they have become withdrawn, or if they say they 'hate' the school. Bullying is a whole new ballgame at secondary school. It rests in the emotional rather than the physical plane and can damage your child's self-esteem tremendously. It is easy to spot if you pay attention to your child's changing moods. A visit to the school psychologist will help, as they usually know the kids and can give you perspective. If there isn't one at the school, any child psychologist you can access will be beneficial.

A secondary school child will be much more seriously involved in extra-mural activities at this level. They are picked for teams according to their abilities and thrive on team spirit, especially in the South African national sports. But there are also debate clubs, chess clubs, drama clubs, etc for the more creative child. Support them in whatever they like to do and let them do as much as they can; exercise, both mental and physical are key to surviving teenage-hood!

Be proud of your child's accomplishments. no matter how big or small, through this amazing time in their lives. They will always be your little ones no matter how grown-up they seem to be!

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