5 lessons from a new high school mom
With her eldest daughter starting high school this year, Nicola Davies-Laubscher looks back at some of the lessons learned over the first few weeks.

Our entry into high school started in early 2017 when we began looking in earnest at our daughter’s options for high school. My only prerequisites were that she visits a variety of schools and keep an open mind. We eventually applied to two schools and left the decision up to her.

By the second term, her mind was made up. The relief of knowing where we were heading was coupled with a fair amount of fear and apprehension. Was this the right choice? Will she be happy? For our family there was the added pressure of moving our daughter from an Afrikaans-medium primary school to an English-medium high school.

Now, as we near the end of our first term in high school, we are all breathing a sigh of relief at how smoothly the transition went. I can truly say that the adjustment to a new language of instruction was to a large extent negated by the fact that she is self-motivated and willing to put in the extra work needed.

Furthermore, her friendly and open nature enabled her to make friends with a new and diverse group of children.

Most importantly though is the fact that she has gained independence, learned to adjust to a new environment and trust her instincts. 

As a mom, I have had the privilege of seeing my little girl come into her own over the past few weeks. So, what have I learned as a parent?

1. Limit your teenager’s screen time

At our first school meeting, the principal asked parents to be strict about their teen’s cellphone usage. Teachers struggle to teach bleary-eyed children who were chatting on WhatsApp until 2 o’clock in the morning. Make a house rule that there will be no screen time after 9 o’clock and insist that phones and tablets are charged in the kitchen overnight and not next to the bed. 

2. Talk about the dangers of social media

Social media is a reality of your teenager’s life. Speak to a school counsellor or your child’s guidance teacher if you suspect that your child is being bullied online. Although I insist that my children’s social media profiles are set to private, I was still surprised to learn that my teenager had over 300 people following her on Instagram. No thirteen-year-old knows 300 people! Be strict about your child’s privacy.

3. Keep an eye on schoolwork

The high school curriculum will expose your teenager to many different subjects. This means a lot more work. Write down all tests and assignments on a calendar and check regularly that your child is on top of her work. Ask about test results and speak up when you see that your child is struggling. 

4. Talk to other parents

High school is often a melting pot of children who come from different primary schools. Just like our children, a new school is a great opportunity for parents to make new friends and acquaintances. Make a point of chatting to other parents at school functions or while waiting for extra mural activities to end.

5. Be the adult

Set boundaries and teach your child that their actions have consequences. Despite all the moaning and groaning, your child needs to know that you care and value their safety and welfare. Teach your child that respect and kindness will get you far in life. 

What have you learned in the past few weeks since school started? Send us your comments and potential coping mechanisms to chatback@parent24.com and we might share them with our readers.

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