Walking into the high school classroom on my first day, I felt sick with nerves. I tried to look friendly yet also très cool, but unfortunately the expression on my face read more as “I’m holding in a fart”.
I probably was holding in a nervous fart. The first day of high school is exciting and nerve-wracking… even when you’re the teacher like me.
Yes, teachers feel anxious about the first day back at school, too. That’s why we have a special place in our hearts for students in the early years of high school, especially year 7.
Happy, thriving students have a few things in common. They’re organised, nurtured and calm. And most magically of all, they return their forms to their teachers. What? A teenager remembering to do something without being asked? Yes, I’ve seen it with my own eyes!
In my years as a teacher, I noticed that successful high school students were fans of these four techniques.
Put pen to paper, and get organised.
Believe it or not, teenagers need pretty simple tools to succeed in high school: a pen, paper and a year planner. And wow – none of those things have a shiny screen or WiFi.
A pen, paper and a year planner is all your child needs. Image: iStock.
My best students were the ones who had a pen and paper in hand on the very first day, and took notes in class. At home, these students would put any assignment or homework due dates straight into their year planner (ideally, a dated diary or a wall planner). With a handful of notes and a clear, easy reminder of dates, being organised becomes a breeze.
If your teenager needs a little extra motivation to put pen to paper, a container stocked with neon sticky notes, vibrant markers and colourful pens will tempt them to write down anything.
Walk them through it – literally.
Before I started high school, I had never caught a bus before. So, to build my confidence before the first day of year 7, my mum took me on a public transport trial run. She walked to the bus stop with me, and we caught a bus to the local shops, where we got off and waited for a second bus. Once we reached the school, she even showed me the safest spot to cross the highway. That day together is still a happy memory for me, over two decades later. (Sidenote: How am I that old?!) Not only did I feel more prepared and independent, my mum also made me feel loved.
If you notice your child is worried about one particular hurdle, try jumping over it with them. They’ll be thankful for it.
As a teacher, I want my students to make their high school dreams come true. So, it always broke my heart when I had to say ‘no’ to hard-working, talented students. I’ve seen great kids miss out on art excursions, sporting events, musicals, competitions and more, all because they didn’t hand in signed consent forms.
Here’s the thing: if you want your child to fulfil their high school potential, you will need to work together to find, sign and return forms. This means doing things that terrify the parents of teenagers: asking your kids for something, contacting their teachers and even searching through their messy school bags (hello there, squashed banana).
Make sure your kids hand in signed consent forms for excursions. Image: iStock.
Take the pressure down.
Yes, it’s true: in high school, your child will be given more homework and assignments than ever before. As a parent, it can be tempting to keep on your kid’s back about assignments and homework, to ensure they don’t fall behind. But here’s the thing: while there is more homework, there is also more of everything else, too. More subjects, more teachers, more social groups…just more. It can be a very overwhelming experience.
"Your child will be given more homework and assignments than ever before." Image: iStock.
So sing it out like John Farnham and take the pressure down. Think of high school as a delicious block of chocolate. Instead of guzzling everything quickly and feeling sick, how about starting off with a taste and nibble? Come year 12, your child will be a connoisseur of all things high school and ready to devour their final exams.
Imaginary boyfriends vs. immunisation.
Before I started high school, a juicy rumour was circulating amongst my year 6 pals. Sadly, it had nothing to do with Dieter Brummer from Home and Away taking me to the graduation dance. No, the gossip was about needles – and more specifically, that we would all get vaccinated during a typical high school day.
My wish for a high school boyfriend never came true, and instead I found myself about to get vaccinated one day in year 7. At the time, I was nervous and secretly scared of the needles. But looking back, I can see that the immunisation day was definitely more valuable than a date with a Hollywood (or Home and Away) heart throb.
Thanks to the School-based Immunisation Program, free immunisations are available to high school kids. Your teen is probably more familiar with the words “iPad” and “dabbing” (I think it’s a dance move?) than diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and human papillomavirus. Let’s keep things that way by immunising them against these potentially deadly diseases.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that doing nothing is the safest option, as the reality is completely different. So, search that schoolbag, talk to your teen and give them the autograph they really need – your signature on the form. Find, sign and return your kid’s immunisation consent form, and treat your teen’s health like the real celebrity it is.
And that’s your homework today, from Ms. Gee. Get your hands on that immunisation consent form, sign and return it, and your child will be given the advantage of living a healthy, A+ life.
Carla Gee (B. Art Education, Hons, UNSW and B. Design [Visual Communication], Hons, UTS) is a secondary school teacher, and has taught the subjects of Visual Arts and Photography and Digital Media to students from year 5 through to year 12. In addition to this, Carla is a writer, artist, podcast host and mum to two children.
How do you support your child throughout high school?
This post was brought to you with thanks to the Immunisation Coalition.
The Immunisation Coalition is a not for profit advocacy group with a mission to create awareness regarding the importance of immunisation.