Starting secondary school can feel like a difficult time for students, who have to find their way around a new and bigger school with a lot more people, classrooms and rules. Worrying about getting lost and being late to class can contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress, which can impact on a student’s wellbeing.
There are lots of simple things schools can do to support new students in finding their way around. Taking the time to orient students to their new surroundings, being flexible with rules and expectations during the first month, and setting up supportive networks are practical ways to help students feel supported at this time.
Top tips for supporting your students
- Encourage students to learn the layout of the school by walking from room to room with others from their class. It won’t feel so daunting, then, if they get lost. It’s also a great way to form new connections and to create a sense of belonging and support in your classroom.
- Provide students with a map of the school. Encourage them to highlight on their map the rooms and locations they need to know. It can also be helpful to mark key help-seeking locations in the school, such as the office, staffroom, school counsellor and library.
- Talk openly and honestly with your students about what to do if they get lost at school. Provide an opportunity to problem solve, as a class, some practical strategies to use if they find themselves lost.
- You may need to be flexible in your expectations around students getting to class on time in the first few weeks. Students who continue to struggle and are often late to class may need some extra support in getting their books and resources organised. Buddying them up with an organised student can support this process.
- Share with your students practical strategies they can use to manage stress and anxiety, such as breathing and mindfulness exercises.
Teaching students how to recognise and cope with a range of emotions such as frustration, happiness, joy, fear and sadness is essential in developing their resilience.
Instead of seeing themselves as victims, or their situations as negative, learning acceptance can help students to feel empowered about the things they can do.
Students realise that focusing on positive emotions lessens the opportunity for negative emotions such as anger and frustration to dominate their thoughts.
Students learn to rephrase negative statements into positive thoughts to encourage a growth mindset.
Resources for students
ReachOut works with young people across Australia to develop content. You could share some of these resources with your students.
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Resources for parents and carers
ReachOut works with parents across Australia to develop content that helps them to support their young person. You could share some of these resources with your parent community.
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