“It’s like falling off a cliff” – Transitioning to high school

This school year is over and Grade 8 students have said goodbye to the predictability of elementary school. Many students wonder if they are ready to face high school in September.  They worry about changing relationships with parents, teachers and friends, finding their way around an unfamiliar new school and doing well in more challenging academics.

Developmental Assets can drop when students start high school

Halton Youth Survey findings show that Developmental Assets® drop during this transition to high school. The assets that see the greatest drops are focused on relationships in the community, at home and at school:

  • positive peer influence,
  • family support,
  • family boundaries
  • caring school climate

Strong and supportive relationships are key to giving youth the strength and supports that they need to be successful in bridging this transition.

One in five 15-year-olds have meaningful realationships with parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, neighbours and others

Research from the Search Institute shows that only about one in five 15-year olds have the meaningful adult relationships that they need beyond their immediate family. The research used the Relationships and Opportunities Index (ROI) to measure youth perceptions about different dimensions of adult-youth relationships, including things like how they are treated and the quality of their interactions.

What can we do to improve those numbers and support our youth better?

When OKN asked youth  how adults can do better, they had a lot to say. Mostly, they want us to listen to them and they want to be involved in decisions that impact them. They want meaningful relationships and to be heard.

 “What’s good about positive relationships is that the person will not critique you, or judge you, but will help you do better.”

 Gloria, youth participant, OKN Meaningful Discussions video

In Halton, 77% of 12-year-olds say they have high levels of family support

Our data tells us that many 12-years olds are feeling supported by their families. The percentage of 12-year olds reporting high levels of family support by neighbourhood ranges from 69% to 85% (see the map), with 77% of 12-year olds in Halton reporting high levels of family support.

This particular Developmental Asset was rated by youth on these five statements:

  1. My parents smile at me
  2. My parents praise me (say nice things about me)
  3. My parents make sure I know I am appreciated
  4. My parents speak of the good things that I do
  5. My parents seem proud of the things I do

Explore this data and other assets using the OKN Data Portal.

As kids grow up the most important thing we can do is to keep our relationships with youth positive and strong.  Here are some ideas:

  •  Be present – put down and turn off any technology when speaking to them.
  •  Help them get better – see their interests and abilities and help them pursue them.
  •  Catch them doing it right – acknowledge their efforts and their achievements (big and small).
  •  Hear their voice – they have good ideas; include them in decision making.
  •  Help them connect – introduce them to people, programs and activities that will help them grow.
  •  Play together – find ways to have fun together!

These videos show some simple ways to support and nurture children every day.

These videos provide insight on teen development plus common concerns identified by parents and caregivers of preteens and teens and helpful parenting advice and suggestions.

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