Life just got a little more exciting for your child, as they transition to a new stage in their lives. They will have to make new friends, and this may take some time for them to do, leaving them feeling lost in the meantime without an established peer group to belong to. The academic expectations are also vastly different in secondary school, given that there are more subjects. On top of those changes, your child will have to choose, and adjust to, new co-curricular activities.
Some teenagers will take to their new environment like a fish to water, but some may need a little more handholding to ride through the wave. If you feel your child is facing some challenges adjusting to their new secondary school life, consider adopting or adapting some of these strategies to help them during their period of adjustment.
#1: Observe and Listen to Your Teen
Teenagers are going through a stage in their lives in which they are trying to form their own identity. Identity formation includes the development of their sense of self, how they relate to others, their personality, as well as their identity as individuals. They become increasingly self-conscious, and being in a whole new environment can exacerbate the anxiety that often accompanies these changes.
What this means is that your teen, who is facing many changes in their new school, may have many bottled-up emotions that they are not able to express well, if at all. They may become irritable, or turn sullen and resentful. You may also notice changes in their behaviour that indicate that they are stressed out and not coping well in their new school.
It is important to always make it clear to your teen that they can be open and honest with you about their concerns. Should they offer any information about the challenges they are facing in school, listen to them and try not to dismiss their concerns, even if they might sound trivial to you. Continue asking them to share their worries with you, and discuss solutions to overcome them together.
Keep reminding them that while you acknowledge that secondary school is a big change from primary school, it is also full of new opportunities for them!
#2: Keep an Eye on their Academic Work
Secondary school is much more challenging academically, not least because of the increased number of subjects that your teen has to take. Your teen may feel overwhelmed, and may struggle to keep on top of all of their subjects.
Your teen may feel frustration, bewildered by all that they are expected to learn, or even question their intelligence, should they find this adjustment to be difficult. Emphasise to them that this adjustment is a normal one, and to be expected. They are not alone in their difficulties.
Encourage your teen to approach their teacher(s) for any concerns they may have regarding their studies. As a parent, you may wish to maintain a line of communication with your teen’s teachers, to see which areas you will be able to work together with them in order to help your teen cope with the demands of their academic work.
#3: Seek Help if Necessary
Should your teen have a particularly rough time adjusting to their new secondary school, they may be at risk of developing mental health problems. If you suspect that your teen is unable to cope with the changes, please do not hesitate to seek help.
You may begin by approaching your teen’s form teacher, to see if there are any strategies that can be employed to help your teen adjust better. The school should also have counselling services on standby to work together with your teen, to find coping strategies for them. The school counsellors will also be able to help refer your child to a psychologist or psychiatrist if they deem it necessary to do so.
The school environment can be incredibly stressful for some students, and it is becoming increasingly common for students to require professional help to enable them to cope better. It is not a sign of failure on your teen’s part, nor is it a sign of parental failure should your child require professional help. All that matters is that they are given the best support to help them adapt to secondary school life.
If you’re searching for ways to help your teen cope with their academic stresses, Geniebook may be able to assist. Our suite of online learning tools is designed to deliver a personalised experience, from AI-assisted worksheet generators to live online lessons and real-time chat that connects teachers with students.