The Effects of Starting High School on Children

Starting high school is an important milestone in children's lives. It marks the beginning of adolescence and produces a number of significant changes.
The Effects of Starting High School on Children
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

When starting high school, children stop being the oldest kids in school only to become the youngest. It’s a major turning point in their lives and they’re about to face a world of changes and challenges.

What’s more, they’ll have to find their way around a new school. This school will likely be much bigger than the one they came from, and they’ll likely have a different teacher for each subject. And, of course, they’ll have to take on many more responsibilities than before, which include:

  • Moving around a new and unknown building.
  • Planning around a different schedule each day.
  • Being more autonomous in making sure they have the books and materials they need, as well as completing their homework.
  • Having more homework to do each evening and spending more time studying.

All of this will have to fit into their new routine as well as their new interests. Often times, when starting high school, youth develop a somewhat discouraging perspective. Therefore, parents need to be aware that it may take some time for their children to adapt to this new world of responsibilities.

How to choose the right educational institution

Parents can help their children take maximum advantage of their high school education by helping them choose the right institution. This can be a challenging task. Sometimes it involves attending many open houses and setting up a number of meetings. And all of this takes place in a short amount of time.

  • Set aside time to talk to children about what they want out of their high school education. Parents and children often have different motives for preferring one school over another. It’s important to listen to what children have to say and take it into serious consideration. After all, if children are forced to attend a school they don’t like, it could be a recipe for disaster.
  • Do your research. During children’s final years in middle school, parents need to research the details on high schools in the area. This includes what time they start and get out, criteria for admission, important dates, and other pertinent information. A good place to start is on each school’s website.
  • Asking other parents about their experiences with local high schools can provide interesting information. You can also talk to the authorities at your child’s current school.
The Effects of Starting High School on Children

  • During your child’s last year of middle school, you should visit as many local high schools as possible. This will help you better evaluate all of the options. It’s important to talk to children about what they want to know before beginning these visits.
  • Pay attention to time tables. Be aware of the dates that each school sets for enrollment, tuition, etc.
  • Be sure not to place all your hopes on your child getting into one specific high school. You should have at least one alternative option that you and your child are happy with in order to avoid major disappointments.

How to prepare for staring high school

Once you’ve chosen the educational institution, it’s important to attend an open house for new students. These events are vital when it comes to helping new students settle in.

It’s normal for children to feel nervous about this big change since it can be very stressful. Therefore, take all the time that’s necessary to listen to them… And remind them that what they’re going through is normal for students that are starting high school.

It’s a good idea to walk around the new high school a number of times. It’s an unfamiliar place for your child, so it’s important that he or she learns how to get around. For children who use public transport, it’s also important to practice getting there and back before the school year begins.

Bullying in high school: Children’s security when starting high school

It’s crucial that children know they can reach out to their parents if this becomes a problem. And speaking of security, it’s important to remember that bullying doesn’t just take place face-to-face anymore. Cyberbullying is a growing social problem, especially among teens. What’s more, bullying can take place on school grounds and also on the way to and from school.

Parents should be sure to talk to their children about bullying, both as a means of preventing as well as detecting it. Children need to understand that bullying is always wrong and that they can talk to a trusted adult if something happens.

Starting high school: Family dynamics

Once a child has started high school, it’s common for parents to feel more isolated and out of touch with their children. Just the same, you should remember there are ways to involve yourself in this new stage of your child’s life:

  • Consult the school’s website to obtain information about important events and attend those that interest you.
  • Contact the Parent Teacher Association and become part of it, if possible.

The Effects of Starting High School on Children

  • Talk with your child’s school counselor about any problems you observe.
  • Make sure that the high school your child attends is aware of any important changes in your child’s life. For example, the separation of his or her parents.

“Families should involve themselves in their children’s education until their high school experience is over.”

Once again, it’s important to remember that when children begin high school, you should continue to set aside time to talk with them. Listen to your child every day. This will allow you to know how things are going and how the change is affecting their lives. When parents are careful to maintain open communication with their teens, their children feel more supported and self-confident.

Of course, you need to maintain a balance. Don’t bombard high schoolers with questions, especially right when they get home. They’re tired, hungry, and maybe in a bad mood after a long day at school. Give them the space they need and wait for the right time to have a conversation.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Salvador, A. C., & Cayón, F. M. (2016). Barreras y Ayudas Percibidas por los Estudiantes en la Transición entre la Educación Primaria y Secundaria. REICE. Revista Iberoamericana sobre Calidad, Eficacia y Cambio en Educación, 14(1), 49-64.
  • Fernández, M. D. L. V. C., Linares, M. C. G., & Ernest, P. M. (2017). El papel de la familia en el desarrollo de la comprensión lectora en el cambio de Educación Primaria a Secundaria. Electronic Journal of Research in Education Psychology, 10(26), 129-150.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.