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Watching for signs of struggle in the new school year

SCHOOL IS IN: Lockyer District High School captain Hannah Lester and year seven student Imogen Driver are back in the swing of a new school year.
SCHOOL IS IN: Lockyer District High School captain Hannah Lester and year seven student Imogen Driver are back in the swing of a new school year. Lachlan McIvor

THE start of a new school year can bring about a host of mixed feelings for students.

Some are excited to get stuck into their studies but others will find it hard to stop the flapping of nervous butterflies in their stomach in those first few weeks back.

For Year 7 students, entering high school for the first time, it's a jump from the familiar to the unknown, while the pressure can be felt by seniors as the world outside their usual comfort zone is looming just around the corner.

It has been an especially busy start to the 2018 academic year for Lockyer District High School captain Hannah Lester, as she tackled extra responsibilities.

Although she was excited about her final year of schooling and looking ahead to making precious memories with friends at her formal and graduation, she was putting pressure on herself to succeed.

"With Year 12, it's so different to any other year.,” Hannah said.

"It's what actually counts and I get stressed a lot.

"I'm very academic as well so that is a big pressure for me that I'm a little bit concerned about this year but I'm hoping that it won't be as bad as I'm thinking it will be.”

Youth support co-ordinator Silva Johansen, who serves as a crucial part of the school's support structure, said worries such as this were normal.

"The start of the school year can be a nervous time for parents as much as kids, so it's important to try and keep your own anxiety under control,” Ms Johansen said.

"The more you can stay calm and present school as a fun, positive experience the better for your child.”

Not wanting to go to school, lacking interest in school work, not talking about school or friends or seeming low on confidence or self-esteem were signs to look out for.

"If you do see some of these signs, try to get your child talking about how they are feeling, let them know that feeling worried is normal and work out some strategies together,” she said.

"Parents need to be mindful that adjusting to change takes time but there are occasions where problems will require adult intervention.

"So if things don't improve within a few weeks, consider speaking with your child's school or even your GP.”

It was important that students like Hannah knew there was help if she needed it.

"My friends and my family are a big help and the school does have great support services like Silva. We've also got the guidance officers, chaplains, year level coordinators and everything like that,” she said.

"My friends and family are really great to talk to (as well).”

Topics:  anxiety lockyer district high school stress student


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