Beginning high school heralds a time of significant change (for students as well as parents). Having almost completed my first year of high school (as a parent) and after interrogating my Year 7 son and some of his friends, I’ve pulled together a list of the critical differences between primary school and high school –
Homework – it gets real, dudes.
Facial Hair – on students. After seeing a bunch of Year 12 boys on a tour of a high school, my husband observed, “They have fuller beards than I could ever grow…” *true*
Heavy Stuff – literally. There’s lots to carry – books for each subject and usually a laptop. School bags weigh a tonne and parents will wonder about long-term damage to backs (but remember, we wore our school bags hanging off one shoulder which was far worse for our posture than the currently favoured back-packs).
Detention – not the “…you’re missing five minutes of lunch time…” kind, the real kind.
Better electricals – things that impress my children? Toasters and microwaves. These appliances are made available to students so that they can have a lunch more exotic than a Vegemite sandwich (i.e. Vegemite toast).
Dress right – high schools love their uniform policies and they also love students observing the policies. On starting high school, you’re basically saying goodbye to trackies, hoodies and runners and saying hello to school shoes (yes, the unforgiving leather kind), collared shirts and blazers.
Choices, choices – the canteen is, by kids’ standards, a smorgasbord of aceness. Apart from the fact that the canteen is open everyday, there’s lots on offer. I only realised this when, at orientation day, my son said “So… I can just drink Cokes all day long?” (NO)
Choices, choices (the friends edition) – going from a year level of 60 people to 200+ can seem overwhelming – how do you find new friends among so many kids? I didn’t have a good answer to this question apart from “Just be yourself” (which, quite honestly, sounds lame and not particularly helpful when your kid is about to meet 200 new people). So I sought input from my brother, who’s a high school teacher. His take was simply “Don’t worry about who you hang out with in the first few weeks. Before too long you will find your friends. You won’t have to do anything; it will just happen.” *a more relaxed was of saying ‘just be yourself’*
Trains, trams and buses – most kids get their own way to and from high school which can mean public transport. Notably, there’s no more saying “Mum! Stop talking and let’s go!” while I shoot the breeze at the school gate. Instead, your Year Seven is dilly-dallying along Glenferrie Road, only to arrive home to the question “Where have you been?”
On a more practical note, this article has lots of useful information about starting high school.