Tips to prepare your child for high school

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Starting secondary school is exciting, but it’s a big step up from primary school. Getting used to the change can be difficult for some young people and first-day jitters can be hard to overcome.
In Kenya, highschool has been known to engage in behaviors termed inappropriate for children their age. For instance, on November last year, 15 students from Sugoi Secondary school were arrested for sneaking out of school to attend a party.
This among other incidences raised the question of discipline and the preparedness of students for high school. Here are some tips to help prepare your child for high school and ensure they transition smoothly in the school system from Co-founder of The Highly Experienced Teacher, Marie Amaro.
Give them the reality. Though young it is good to prepare your child by sharing the realities that await them, peer pressure, dynamic environment, different cultures that they will meet in school. This makes them aware of their environment and handle situations from a point of knowledge.
Be enthusiastic. Your child is more likely to look forward to starting high school if you’re positive about it. Let them know it will be a great experience and there is nothing to be afraid of.
Attend orientation events. Most high schools offer an open day in the second term where students and their parents can attend, meet teachers and tour the facilities. Use this as an opportunity to learn and hear what has been happening and how they are dealing with the experience.
Find a school buddy for your child. This may be a neighbour’s child or an older playmate. Some high schools have their own ‘buddy system’, where older children at the school look out for new students. Make sure your child is comfortable with the buddy given to them by the school.
Understand the school routine. Being familiar with timetables, scheduled breaks and start or finish times can help your child to know what to expect from their school day.
Visit the school over the Christmas holidays, if possible. Stroll around the grounds to familiarise your child with the location of the toilets, office, lockers and sports facilities. This is usually when they are reporting for the first time in high school.
Figure out the travel route. Talk with your child about how they will get to and from school, and explore the route with them a few times before they start. This is if they are not boarding. Ensure they feel safe.
Practise traveling to and from school. If they’re walking or catching public transport, go with your child or arrange someone else to accompany them until they are confident traveling on their own.

Have an emergency safety plan. Be clear about who your child should contact and what you expect them to do in an emergency. Be calm and matter-of-fact about issues such as crossing major roads on their own or catching public transport if you are unable to arrange a lift for them.
Encourage your child to talk about their feelings. They may be anxious about making the transition to high school or they may experience difficulties settling in once they start. Reassure them that it’s normal to have mixed feelings about starting a new school.

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