Starting high school can be a challenge, you are moving away from everything comfortable and familiar and moving to a new place with new people and experiences. It can be an exciting time but can be intimidating and overwhelming too.
Alaya started high school over two years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. She was very excited about the new people she’d meet and the new classes she would experience but she was extremely nervous about moving from an elementary school with less than 300 students (from JK to 8) to a school with more than 2,200 students. She was anxious about navigating her way through the hallways, finding her classes and if any of her friends would be in those classes.
A few months before, we had taken the time to attend the school open house and spent a lot of time discussing what options she wanted to pursue. It was a lesson for both of us, as high school is much different now than when I went, they have so many different options to choose from; did you know that you can take a Yoga class for your gym credit?
High school is much more tailored to specific career paths now. You can gear your program to accommodate career choice so you aren’t forced to take a lot of classes that are of no use to you. You still have to take the standards; Math, English, Science etc… but there are many interesting options. Alaya chose courses that would keep her career options open but that were leading her down a path to University.
All my children are part of the Catholic School Board and therefore wear uniforms to school. Uniforms have always been something I like; I think that it takes the pressure of the kids that wear them. There is less pressure about brand names and expensive labels as everyone’s clothes are the same. I know that Alaya hated wearing a uniform in elementary school but in high school she prefers it. It certainly made choosing clothes for the first day of school easier.
The week leading up to school was full of nervous excitement and anxiety for both her and me. She was looking forward to a new adventure and I was anxious about having a child in high school. We did trial runs of the bus routes to school, and I reassured her (constantly) that she would be fine, meet new friends and that she would actually enjoy it. There were excited conversations with friends and some anxiety about leaving what was familiar.
As her mom, of course I worried about exposure to drugs, alcohol, and who all these new friends would be. She had gone to a small school and I was quite familiar with her friends and their families. You know who the good kids are and can encourage those friendships and you know who the trouble makers are so that you can limit those interactions. With Alaya in high school, I knew that I would have to work that much harder to make sure I knew all her close friends but I also knew that I wouldn’t have the same comfort level that I’d previously enjoyed. We talked about what worried me….well I talked and she rolled her eyes but we got through. To help ease our anxiety and for safety reasons she got a cell phone. It was very handy to have if she missed a bus or got delayed at school. It also gave us a communication lifeline for days when she just needed to talk.
High school has been a positive experience for both of us. For all the worry and anxiety, Grade 9 was a great year. It was a year full of changes; some new friendships blossomed while other ones fell away. There were some long frustrating nights trying to explain Math and there were some very large accomplishments. There was tremendous growth for both Alaya and I…..she learned new and interesting things about herself and I got to watch her move from a kid to a young adult.
It is hard to believe that two years have passed since then. We are in pretty much the same boat now as we were then, except instead of high school options we are talking career choice and where she should go to University. Time sure does fly
I am a mom navigating my way through the teen and tween years with my husband Tom, who is step-father to my three daughters; Alaya (16), Kaylee (12) and Anna-Claire (10). Full-time employee, full-time mom/wife, part-time caregiver
and dedicated runner who is just trying to keep all the balls in the air.