06 Dec

The change from a primary and secondary school setting can feel enormous – a new school environment, different routines, new students, new teachers, having to find where you belong again.

However, many of these things are just variations on a structure and routine your child is already very familiar with. Hopefully, orientation visits to your child’s new school have helped your child feel more comfortable in their new school environment. Nevertheless, it is normal for some worries and doubts to remain. What can you do to support your child to feel confident transitioning to high school?

Talk about what to expect

Highlight aspects of high school that may be similar to what your child already feels confident managing in primary school. Talk through what may be different (moving between classes for subjects, different pick up/drop off routines etc.) and strategies to handle these differences.

Build Confidence

Build confidence around skills that your child may need for high school. This may be practising catching the bus or walking the route to school, practising money handling skills (e.g. for topping up metrocards, making purchases at the canteen) or taking on a bit more responsibility for organising or caring for their belongings.


Talk about making friends. Even if your child is going to a high school with close friends from primary school, it is likely that they will not always be grouped with children they know. Talk to your child about how they may go about making new friends.

Make Connections

Identify opportunities for your child to connect with their new school community – extracurricular activities may present good opportunities for your child to feel part of the school community. Similarly, attending school sports days, camps etc. help create shared experiences with classmates.

Set Routines

At least a week before school starts, encourage your child to begin getting back into routine ready for school starting. This would include getting up around the time that they would need to for school as well as going to bed as they would on a school night.

Meet Staff Members

Build connections with key staff at high school. Your child’s homegroup teacher would be a good place to start. Other important staff members may include the year level coordinator, learning support coordinator or student wellbeing staff (school counsellor etc.).

Parent Resources

Do your best to keep the lines of communication open with your child – ask about what they are looking forward to/interested in as well as what may be concerning them. Teenagers are not always the best communicators so be flexible in your approach and try again if it does not work the first time.

For more ideas, some useful links are below:

Raising Children – Starting Secondary School

Learning Potential – Starting High School

Raising Children – Secondary School Transitions: Teenagers with ASD

SA Department of Education – Teenagers and Feelings

Thank you to Stephanie Eustice, SPW Psychologist, for sharing this Parent Resource with the community.