Settling into the school year

While starting a new school year is exciting for many, some students struggle to adjust to a new school or grade, impacting their wellbeing and motivation. Our Lead Psychologist Jon Marginis explains how to identify if your child is having trouble and steps to improving their feelings about school.

Moving into a new year level or sub-school is exciting for many students and their families. However, once the dust settles, it is common for students to notice changes in themselves and the school work expected from them, and this can impact how they feel about going to school or participating in school activities.

Whether they were at the school last year and have moved up a year level or are new to the school, many students find that they are receiving more work than the previous year.

On top of their school work, they might be playing new sports or undertaking extra Co-Curricular activities and will experience neurodevelopmental or hormonal changes.

Naturally, these changes can be positive for young people because they're experiencing new things and practising independence. However, this can also be overwhelming.

Some tell-tale signs that your son might not be adjusting to these changes well are:

  • Tantrums/meltdowns
  • Difficulties with sleep
  • Trouble attending school or commitments
  • Physiological complaints, such as stomach aches or headaches
  • Problems with attention and focus
  • Drop in motivation
  • Changes in appetite

If you've spotted any of these changes, the first step is to discuss them with your son. Start by allowing your son to verbalise what he thinks may be going on. Then, depending on your son's mindset, work together to review his thoughts and expectations of himself and his commitments.


Other helpful tips include:

  • Encourage your child to talk about his feelings and let you know when he becomes overwhelmed.
  • Support your child to enter situations or tasks he finds overwhelming with a step-by-step approach.
  • Encourage your child to make a plan or timetable or work with a trusted staff member to break down his activities. The staff member can also assist your child in managing their anxious thoughts and expectations.
  • Encourage your child to find a staff member at school who they can trust, such as a House Head, Head of Year Level, classroom teacher, School Psychologist, Director of Pastoral Care or Deputy Head of School (Pastoral).
  • Highlight the benefits of your child's additional commitments, e.g., PSA Sport is a great place to get active and spend time with mates.
  • Encourage your son to have fun and make time for social activities that aren't 'active commitments'.
  • Monitor the time your son goes to bed to ensure he gets enough sleep.

To learn more, visit:

Jon Marginis
Lead Psychologist

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