Easing the transition into high school

Moving from primary school to high school is a big change. High school is a more independent atmosphere than primary school and your child will be required to take more responsibility for their learning.

Compared to primary school, the schoolwork and assessments in high school differ, and students will need to adapt to different teaching styles, with each subject having a specialist teacher.

Moving to high school can be a challenge to most kids. It’s important to talk to your child about what they are looking forward to and what they are apprehensive about. Start by offering social support and be positive about the big step in their lives.

In addition to keeping communications lines open, here are some other things to consider that may assist in a smooth transition into high school.

Extra-curricular activities

Interests and hobbies outside the school environment are an important part of your child’s education. It helps develop a wide range of skills and promotes work-life balance, which will be important in their life.

Extra-curricular activities can include:

  • music and singing groups
  • adventure and outdoor groups
  • academic clubs for chess, languages and debating
  • a wide variety of sports clubs.

Subject selection

An important freedom in high school, subject selection is a chance to start considering a potential career path and for your child to work out what they’re good at and what interests them.

A starting point to selecting subjects may include:

  • encouraging your child to think about their strengths and interests
  • offering advice from your own understanding of what they like
  • aiming to strike a balance of useful foundation subjects, such as STEM fields, with creative and fun choices
  • looking at entry requirements in The Good Careers Guide and The Good Universities Guide for guidance in particular fields.


Making friends is one of the biggest challenges when transitioning into high school. Here are some tips for helping your child with socialising:

  • Talk to them about their friendship worries — they won’t necessarily be with the same children they know from primary school.
  • Take the time to meet and get to know their new friends.
  • Their friends will also be a good indicator of their interests and guide you to where best to be supportive and involved.


At high school, students are expected to behave in a more adult manner. Talk about what opportunities they will have in an environment that offers more freedom and what they can get from it.

There is a whole range of clubs to join and roles they can take on, such as being a student representative council, prefect, captain of their sports team and more. You can encourage and reinforce their independence by giving them more to do at home, such as looking after a younger sibling, mowing the lawns or other responsibilities.

When preparing for high school, promote their investment by giving them more choice and involvement in the process.

Some instances where they can make their own decisions are:

  • selecting their uniform
  • choosing their elective subjects
  • getting to and from school
  • deciding their extra-curricular activities.


Homework will be a large part of your child’s life — you should try to provide a quiet, distraction-free place for them to study. Work with them to develop a schedule where they’ll learn to prioritise certain tasks. This includes homework, sports activities, music lessons, TV and internet, and household chores.

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