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Starting Year 7 is a rite of passage, a moment when everything changes in a child’s life. So how can parents ensure their child enjoys a trouble-free transition to high school?

From the safe cocoon of primary school, high school can come as a bit of a shock. Not only is there a big new campus to explore and public transport to navigate, but a child’s friendship circle changes, and for many, it coincides with their first experience of a private digital device, such as a mobile phone or iPad. 

And all this is coupled with the anxieties brought on by the onset of puberty and adolescence. It’s a lot to deal with. 

Orientation  

Even before Term One commences, parents can help their child prepare for high school. Visiting the campus on Open Day, taking a school tour or even checking out the school’s website can help your child get familiar with the campus grounds and the co-curricular opportunities and help them feel a part of the school community. 

Most schools offer a series of Orientation Days during Year 6, to help new students get familiar with the school. For many, it’s the whole new structure of school day, with timetables and different classrooms that can be most nerve-wracking. As Year 7 Coordinator at Ivanhoe Girls’, Celia Hatzipavlis understands the anxiety.  “Our transition days are designed to let them experience that,” she explains. “It’s okay to feel nervous, it's okay to feel excited. Everybody will be having those emotions.”

New Skills

But starting Year 7 is not just about negotiating a timetable and a big school yard. It’s a massive learning curve. From learning how to knot a tie, to independently navigating public transport, Year 7 students will make major strides in every aspect of their lives. For Celia Hatzipavlis, the key skills required for a successful transition are organisation and developing healthy relationships. Together, these help foster confidence, which is crucial to making the most of what high school has to offer. 

Making Friends

Many children start Year 7 expecting to meet their new best friend straight away. But for some, it’s not that simple. “Making friends is actually a skill,” explains Celia. With Year 7 students coming together from diverse backgrounds and experiences, a friendly smile can make all the difference, and at Ivanhoe Girls’ they actively model that. “We encourage students to be open to helping other people and to be kind and ask people about themselves,” says Celia. 

One of the best ways to help your child develop a wide group of friends is to encourage them to take advantage of the co-curricular activities on offer at the School. From debating to drama, music and sport, these offer exciting opportunities to develop new interests and meet a wide variety of people. While it can be scary to step out of your comfort zone, it’s a surefire way to develop confidence, while creating a sense of belonging in the school community. 

Getting Organised

Being organised is essential for academic success. But for many Year 7 students, it's a skill they have to develop. Having a number of different subjects and teachers, each with its own expectations can be overwhelming. Making sure you have everything you need for each lesson. Getting assignments done in time. Learning to prioritise tasks. 

During the first few weeks of school, students will learn to use a homework diary or study timetable to help then plan their school work. Parents can help by making sure their child has a quiet space and time to keep up to date with their homework. 

But for Celia, one of the best things parents can do is simply make sure the child gets a good night’s sleep. “We want them to come to school positive and ready to learn,” she says.  

Learning to Speak for Themselves

Of course there will be plenty of opportunities to meet with teachers to discuss your child’s progress and any issues that may arise over the course of the first year of high school. But it’s also important for students to become independent, rather than relying on parents and teachers to solve problems for them. It's an important skill that sets them up for life. 

Independence, problem solving abilities, having the confidence to ask a question, communication skills - these are all important skills for young people to learn. “We encourage our students to speak for themselves,” says Celia. 

Book a School Tour to learn more about the Year 7 program at Ivanhoe Girls’.