Transition to high school for teenagers

Two female students chatting in class

Moving to high school is one of the key milestones of a teenager’s life. It’s an exciting phase that happens alongside other big changes, including puberty.

It’s important for parents to stay informed about their teen’s transition to high school and to learn how to support them as they navigate these changes.

This can help you if:

  • your teen is about to start high school (secondary school)

  • you want to learn about the high-school-transition phase and what to look out for

  • you’re seeking expert advice on this major life change and on how to support your teen.

What to know about the transition phase

High school is an exciting time in your teen’s life. During their transition to high school, they will experience new challenges and plenty of changes. You can support your teen by talking to them about any worries they may have during this time. Some of the changes your teen is likely to face during transition include:

  • being separated from the friends they made at primary school

  • meeting new people and making new friends

  • navigating their new school campus

  • learning different rules and expectations

  • getting to know multiple teachers

  • managing their study schedule and a new routine

  • moving into adolescence and experiencing puberty

  • starting to use social media and increasing their technology use.

Watch the video below for some tips for your teen starting high school.

Read the transcript

How can I help my teen?

You can help your teen settle in at high school by:

  • Communicating with your teen about what to expect as they start high school. Encourage them to ask questions, and if you don’t know the answers, find them together.

  • Helping your teen prepare for high school. Talk to them about what they need, and organise those things together.

  • Talking to your teen about how to use social media and technology safely and ask them to show you their favourite apps, games and websites. Lead by example, set realistic boundaries for internet use and show them how to use it in a positive way.

  • Getting to know other parents, your teen’s teachers and the school community.

  • Encouraging your teen to make new friends and to participate in social activities.

  • Getting involved in school events.

  • Being present and supportive during your teen’s transition to high school.

How to stay involved

Teens may want more independence as they transition to high school, which can be challenging for parents. While it’s good to give your teen the freedom to form their identity, to make new friends and to explore their interests, you still play a key role in helping them to navigate this phase.

Here’s how you can stay involved in your teen’s school life as they become more independent:

  • Get involved with the school community. Go to parent-teacher conferences and stay across communication and key events. If there’s a school website, online app or newsletter, check it regularly to stay up to date.

  • Observe changes in your teen, particularly their mental and physical health. If you have concerns about your child, contact your school or GP.

  • Make time to talk to your teen about school life at a time that works for both of you.

  • Respect your teen’s need for independence and their ability to make decisions for themselves. Offer advice and support, but give them the opportunity to solve their own problems.

  • Celebrate their wins. Cheer them on when they do something great at school, such as perform well academically, take part in a sporting event or make a new friend. Rewarding their positive behaviours will strengthen their abilities and motivation to do well in the future.