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Ten Top Tips for Students Starting High School

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10 Top Tips for Students Starting High School

So you’ve graduated Primary School? Things are about to get really exciting now you’re entering Year 7: New teachers, students, subjects, opportunities – maybe your own locker for the first time. Your workload will increase but your studies will get more interesting as you apply and build on the foundational skills you developed in Primary School.

Ready for a sensational start to High School? Read our top 10 tips, courtesy of King's Student Wellbeing team:

1. Get Organised

Make this your priority as you start Term 1.

  • Prepare before term starts:

    • Organise your home space – where you are going to do your homework, put things, display your planning calendars etc
    • Make sure you have everything you need:  the correct stationery, school books, electronic device, uniform etc
    • Work out where you can put things to make mornings easier (eg where to leave bag, hat etc)
  • Understand the school timetable and routine – know how everything works so you don’t get caught out. Find out where your classrooms are located and how to get to them – carry a campus map with you, if available.

  • Write everything down – use your school diary, planning calendars etc. Write down your homework and key tasks and tick them off when you've completed them.

  • Make a study timetable (see ‘Keep on top of homework’, below). Include breaks and extra-curricular activities in your plan.

  • Pack your bag the night before rather than first thing in the morning. Forgetting homework, sports kit etc is less likely if you organise your bag in advance.

2. Get involved ASAP

This is the year to explore new interests and try something new. Don’t miss out on all the opportunities open to you. Find out what’s available. This might include: 

  • Clubs and extra-curricular activities
  • A new sport
  • Volunteering
  • Leadership opportunities
  • A new elective in your school subjects (eg food technology, digital arts)

This will help you develop more skills, make new friends and find out more about yourself - your strengths and your passions.

3. Speak up

If you don’t understand something in class, don’t sit quietly hoping you can work it out later. Be confident, put your hand up and ask. Chances are there will be at least one other person in the room who doesn’t get it either. I’ll let you into a little secret – teachers love it when kids ask for clarification. And they’re really good at explaining things in different ways. They would much rather go over something again in class than discover you’d not understood it when they see your test results later in the term.  

Learning is like building a brick wall - if you miss a brick at the bottom, you will miss two in the space above it, then three in the space above that and very soon, you have a massive gap in your learning. Do everything you can to help yourself understand a concept - ask a friend, ask your teacher, research, ask your parents.

4. Take care of your stuff

Don’t be one of the kids that has to visit the Lost Property department every lunchtime. For safety and security, use your locker to store your belongings. Make sure your phone is turned off and left in your locker during the school day. Tidy(ish) lockers and bedrooms make things easier to find! 

5. Keep on top of homework (get into a routine)

 YOU NEVER HAVE NO HOMEWORK. There is always something you can be doing every night to lessen your assignment load/help you better understand a topic, rehearse a practical task, study for a test, revise classwork, revise cognitive verbs. If you put aside time every night to focus on schoolwork - you will manage your workload better.

6. Don’t panic if your grades slip

You are working more independently in High School and the way your work is assessed differs from the systems used in Primary School. It may take a little time to adjust. If your marks dip a little in the first semester, don’t freak out. If they plunge to unfamiliar depths, speak to your teacher(s).

7. Learn how to look after yourself

Start your journey towards independence and responsibility now. For example:

  • Pack your own school lunch, iron your own uniform
  • Find out where you can get help if you need it (eg home group teachers, school counsellors, pastoral care, homework help/tutoring in library at lunchtime, child helplines)
  • Start motivating yourself rather than relying on your parents to supervise your homework/consult a teacher/organise an activity etc
  • Eat a healthy breakfast every morning (your mind and body need fuelling!)

8. Be proactive with friendships

Include yourself in conversations and friendship groups rather than waiting to be included and getting upset. Be brave, take the first step and join in activities that will introduce you to people who enjoy the same things (see 'Get involved', above).

9. Mind your manners

Be courteous to your peers and teachers. Look for ways to be kind and encouraging rather than score ‘cool’ points for the wittiest put-downs. Extend your best manners to email correspondence as well, eg ‘Dear Mr Owens, I did not understand how to do my homework as I was away last week, would you please have some time to go through it with me?’

10. Embrace the change

Let's be honest, school life will never be the same as it was in Primary School. But that's a wonderful thing! Yes, you will face greater challenges but you will also have more opportunities and responsibilities. Take a positive and enthusiastic attitude to the changes. High School can and should be a stimulating and rewarding part of your life. 

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Topics: Teens, High School, Homework

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