High school is in! You've bought the uniform, worked out the bell times and the new route to school. As a new high school parent, here's advanced notice on some other signs that your child is in primary school no more…
1. NO entry and NO touching
No more hanging around the school playground, chatting happily with other parents while your kid has an end-of-day play. No more fond farewells in the morning at the school gate. If your high-schooler is like mine, you'll not only be banned from stepping foot inside the grounds but being within 200 meters of the
The only crime worse than being seen with your child is touching them. No hugs and certainly no kisses. Not even a friendly shoulder slap is allowed. Don't try to get away with any 'cooler' versions of physical contact. High-fives and fist-bumps might be ok at home, but if there are any other high-schoolers looking on, the embarrassment factor will be high. I've found that accidently touching hands while passing on lunch money is the only loop hole within this rule.
2. Take off your volunteer hat
A natural extension of the 'no entry' rule is that it is now decidedly uncool to be a parent volunteer. No longer will your kid beam proudly when it's your turn for a uniform shop. No kudos will come your way from your child for stepping up for the P and C. To be honest, as a serial volunteer, I've found this element of high school a blessing in disguise, as it gives me incentive to sit on my hands when the call for volunteers comes out. It does make life tough for high schools that rely on parent-power for fundraising or other essential help.
3. Teacher and timetable mysteries
In the good old days of primary school, you only needed to get to know one teacher each year and got bonus points for being on passing terms with a couple of others – the principal, the library teacher and maybe an art or music teacher. Now, with high school, there are so many teacher names that it feels impossible to learn their names, let alone be able to pick any of them out of a line-up. I even thought that Miss DiCosta was Mr Costa (say them out loud) until half way through my daughter's Year 7 year.
I also gave up early on in helping her work out her timetable. Not only is there Week A and Week B but my daughter's high school seems to deliberately print their timetables in some sort of code, with room numbers mixed in with the initials of teachers' names. If the first skill achievement of a new high-school student is learning to read their timetable, I have failed high school 101.
4. The big kids
I remember my children's first days of primary school, where the Year 6 kids look so HUGE. Having a child start high school is the same but on steroids. The Year 11 and 12 kids are not way taller than me (not so surprising perhaps, as so are quite a few Year 7 students) but they have far better make-up skills and much nicer phones. The true shock was seeing P-plated cars pull up next to me in the high school carpark, driven by students. I knew theoretically that some high school kids could drive but seeing it in reality was a wake-up call I wasn't prepared for.
5. Excursion notices
My kids' primary school specialises in beautiful notices. Nicely laid out, carefully explained, with colourful branding and encouraging words about how much fun every excursion, camp, or other activity requiring my permission is going to be.
I'm sure some high schools give similar though to their notices … but not my kids'. The first note home was spread across several pages of badly formatted wording, yet somehow failed to actually convey the details of what I was signing my child up for.
More worryingly, it contained serious clauses with points like: 'Smoking is not allowed at any time' and 'This excursion has zero tolerance for drug use.' And this was for a half-day trip to the local sports ground. Agh!
Welcome to high school. Enjoy the ride!