Are Year 7s really ready for High School?

I am not sure they are.

I often work with year 6 students who h

ave learning difficulties, but they are ALL excited about the move to high school. They feel it will be a fresh start with new possibilities. Some do really well with the change in environment, but many don’t.

Common problems include  –

  • Timetabling issues, being late, missing lessons and sports practice sessions.
  • Difficulty finding correct rooms for lessons and getting lost on campus.
  • Balancing homework tasks- many now have 3 – 4 hours of homework each evening! This is not because they have been given that much. It is because they cannot pace themselves and time manage.

Year 7s in High Schools is now a fact in all states except SA and that will change in 2021.

I am aware of the wonderful transition programs most schools run but the kids I see often so desperately want to show they can achieve in their new school and won’t ask questions.

One of my students has been so stressed this year that we have had to spend a huge amount of time on mindfulness and stress management strategies. He is  not sleeping well as he is so worried.

Another one of my students is falling apart this week with homework tasks and myriad tests. I just read his writing and he is not coping and sent out an SOS to us in his writing.

Why on earth should a child of this age be subject to that stress level? What sort of long-term effect might this have?

Teachers and parents can help their children hugely by sticking to a few sensible guidelines:

Don’t threaten children with, “You’ll be at high school next year and they won’t stand for this work” just does not work on a stressed – out Year 6.

They already know they are failing! They are hoping high school will give them a new start. We need to stop blaming children for having difficulties.

Observe Year 7 students closely:

  • Do they need extra help?
  • Are they stressed?
  • Are there ways you can quietly help?
  • Check students know exactly how much homework they are really meant to do.
  • If necessary, enrol students in tuition or a study skills course.
  • Do students understand how to use lockers? Many of my students carry ALL their books with them “just in case!” I cannot even lift their backpacks!

I have no doubt Year 7s will continue to be classed as High School students, BUT can we try to get into their shoes, imagine their stress load and consider how we can give them practical help?

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