Supporting your

child’s transition to High School

Heading off to high school for the first time is an exciting time for your child. But for many, it means leaving the familiarity of primary school. This can be a challenging transition. But being prepared can help reduce worries and smooth the path.

When your child starts high school, they often face a new environment, location, classmates, routine and transport. Knowing what to expect, and having a few things in place before they start, will help your child adjust well to secondary school.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for the start of the school term:

  • Visit the school grounds during school holidays, do a drive-by, familiarise yourselves with the environment, rooms, and facilities.
  • Implement a sleep routine the week before to prepare your child for earlier starts. Endeavour to maintain a regular sleep routine. Your child may be more tired than normal with the transition to high school.
  • Try on the school uniform a few days before the start of school to check for fit and allow your child to feel the part.
  • Familiarise yourselves with the timetable, have it somewhere easily accessible.
  • Check out the school website for staff and school policies, calendar, term dates etc.
  • As a parent it’s useful to join any school apps to keep up to date with communications and notices.
  • If your child is going to be taking a bus to school – go to the school bus stop and drop off point before the start of term. If your child is going to be walking to school, walk the school route with them. Be sure of what times the bus leaves or time taken to walk to school. Figuring out in advance when to leave home, can take the stress out of morning departures.
  • Find a bus buddy if your child is catching the bus; arrange for a friend to meet them at the bus-stop or sit next to them.
  • Prepare lunch, books, stationery, school bag etc. the night before. Figure out what time to set your alarm. Allow extra time for the morning routine to reduce the stress of rushing prior to leaving.
  • Be available at home for the first day or week of school, if possible, so you can support your child and give them a positive send off.
  • Let them know you look forward to seeing them after school and that you are proud of them.
  • You may have a lot of questions when they get home from school, and be eager to find out about their day. Give them space to relax when they get home, they may need some time to process first before sharing with you.
  • Provide opportunities for them to talk and offload. Change can provoke worries and new situations may create challenges. Rather than jumping to solutions, listen non-judgementally, empathise and support them to problem solve.
  • If they experience worries, connect them with the school guidance team.
  • Celebrate their success – for example, riding the bus to school for the first time, completing their first day.

Community Wellbeing offers a free drop-in service for parents/caregivers of secondary school children in North Canterbury. You can get free advice and support around mental health and wellbeing for your rangatahi/young person. This may include:

  • Sleep, eating, self-harm
  • Anxiety and low mood
  • Gaming, alcohol, drug use
  • Grief, loss or change
  • Navigating mental health services or how to access support 

To book an appointment please call Community Wellbeing on 03 310 6375. Appointments can be in person or via video call.

Our free parenting programmes are proudly supported by MainPower.