Starting Year 7
Going to high school will be a new experience for your child. The school is likely to be much bigger than the primary school and your child may feel lost and insecure at first. Instead of being a senior in a small school, they are now a beginner in a big school.
From day one, there will be many changes students need to get accustomed to, including having a number of different teachers and different classrooms, often spread across a larger campus. Set class periods on particular subjects may also be of a longer duration than in primary school. They will be required to carry around notes and books, sometimes heavy, from class to class.
In high school, students usually have eight or more teachers and a Student/Year Adviser to coordinate their activities. It's common for new Year 7s to feel that no one is interested in their specific needs - it's important to let them know people are there to help and not to hesitate to ask questions.
At the start, teachers may not even know all the students' names (some teachers may have 200 or more students) and it will take some time for them to get to know the students as well as the primary teachers did. This too shouldn't be regarded as a high school teacher's disinterest in your child.
In Year 7 students will be introduced to subjects they haven't experienced before, and other subjects may have a different approach and emphasis from primary school learning. They will also be expected to be more independent, self reliant and self-motivated than in primary school. Lessons will often be more student-centred and teachers will become resources and guides, rather than instructors. Much of their progress will depend on initiative, work and ambition.
To keep track of all the lessons and classrooms, students are given weekly timetables with their subjects, times and room locations listed. They will be required to check their timetables each night to make sure they have the correct books, equipment and completed homework for the next day's classes. Reading and understanding timetables takes some getting used to, and moving from room to room might unsettle and tire them. Starting high school is somewhat like starting a new job so it's normal for your child to feel unsettled in the beginning.
Making new friends is perhaps one of the most daunting tasks for Year 7 students. Separate to coping with the new high school routine, this can prove to be a sensitive issue for some children and a bad experience can hinder their progress and attitude towards school.
Many students will be in schools where they don't know any other people, or they may only know children from their old primary school. Fitting in is often extremely important to Year 7 students - finding people they like and who share their interests helps motivate them and increase their self-esteem. Being rejected can be very damaging and may isolate the child. It's a good idea for parents/caregivers and kids to talk every day about their new school experiences, the people they've met or observations they've made - that way there is an awareness of difficulties when they arise rather than when it's too late. It's also important for parents/caregivers to re-assure children who are taking a while to 'find their place' in the school, and their new set of friends - it will happen.
Making new friends and the desire to fit in sometimes forces students to do things they might not normally do - just so they can be liked or be one of the crowd. Making children aware of the fact that they don't have to do everything their peers do, is an important way of ensuring the friendships they make are genuine and positive and not based on pressure or conformity. Telling them a real friend is someone who likes them for who they are, is a valuable message.
The difference between homework and study
The homework set will vary in amount and type because of the number of teachers and subject variations, but most students will need to do some homework each night - whether it be a review of the day's lesson, completion of exercises or starting an assignment that is due down the track. Then there needs to be study time - which is separate from completing homework. Students should go over the day's work, read their text-books or notes and try to increase their understanding, and remember concepts touched on in the class.