Skip to Main Content

Getting a head start in 2024

How can you help your child make a strong and positive start to the new school year?

NEWS 31 Jan 2024

From showing younger children how to put on their uniform and pack their bag to helping older students work out a weekly study routine, balance homework and get enough sleep, there is a lot that families can do to ensure a seamless start to the new school year.

Below, some of Haileybury Rendall School’s experienced teachers share tips on preparing for the year ahead:

Junior School Tips

Deputy Principal, Felicity Pearson, recommends families put aside some time to help the youngest students prepare physically and emotionally for the transition to school.

  • Be prepared for the possibility of separation anxiety and support your child to imagine what will happen when the first day of school arrives.
  • Help them put on their uniform before the first day and show other family members to build a sense of excitement.
  • Drive past the school and stand at the front gate to help your child imagine themselves in school and to create a sense of familiarity.
  • Let your child choose some items they would like to eat for lunch, practice eating from their lunchbox and talk about when is the best time to eat which food.
  • Ask your child if they are worried about anything to do with starting school and practice asking for what they need e.g. “Excuse me, where is the toilet, please?”
  • Play at being teachers and students. Parents can play the role of teacher and help their child practice sitting on the floor, putting up their hand and sitting at a table doing an activity.
  • Mental stimulation and physical exertion in Darwin’s hot climate will mean your child will feel tired quickly when they start school, so ensure they have a regular bedtime.
  • Try not to be late! Some things are unavoidable but your smiling face when your child leaves school in those first days will create a sense of safety and support.
  • Ask your child open-ended questions about their day to maintain connection and to discover if anything is worrying them about school.
  • If your child is using before or after school care, be sure to go through the routines of discussing what will happen, who will look after them and where they will be.

Middle School Tips

Head of Middle School, Brendan Evans, says ensuring students wear the correct uniform and come to school with all their materials and resources supports a good start in 2024.

  • Students are allocated a locker on their first day where they can store books and resources. Locker organisers, such as book storage boxes, and spare stationery are helpful.
  • Kids love routine — it can achieve great outcomes, so help your child settle into routines of Middle School.
  • Help them practise their organisational skills — set aside specific time each day for homework and reading and establish time for hobbies and some screen time.
  • Set up a dedicated study/homework space and check and sign your child’s school diary each week.
  • Help your child by ensuring that they wear the full approved HRS uniform each day.
  • Ensure your child has all the required materials and resources in their school bag each morning.
  • Ask questions about school like “what was something that made you smile today?” or “who or what are you grateful for today?” or “who did you eat lunch with today?”
  • By the end of Day 1, Middle School students will start to navigate the myHRS intranet and myLearning — the learning management system. As parents, the best way to stay connected is by using the myHRS app. It is the one-stop shop for all things HRS e.g. timetables, news, events, uniform information, bus schedules and our staff directory.
  • Keep informed on how your child is going in class using myProgress — our continuous reporting platform.
  • Commencing Middle School can be a daunting experience for children and their families. Remind your child that the HRS staff are ready and well prepared to support them.

Senior School Tips

Dennis Nowak, Director of Teaching and Learning, recommends students familiarising themselves with new textbooks and the subjects they are studying early in the school year.

  • The start of the year is a great time to read through the first few chapters of new textbooks and class materials.
  • The VCAA Study Design is a crucial document — it charts the course for each subject and provides a list of key knowledge and skills that is helpful when studying for SACs and final exams.
  • VCAA course webpages also include a list of key terms for each subject — students can download these to learn the definitions of key terms.
  • Some subjects require students to read outside the classroom context to gain a greater understanding of the material they will study in VCE — this can be fun and increase a student’s passion and interest for the subject.
  • When making subject choices, students should start with thinking about which subjects they enjoy the most. The VCE requires your child to do a lot of work and it helps if they are studying subject areas that they are passionate about.
  • Encourage your child to book time with our school’s Careers Counsellor to ensure they make informed choices around any prerequisites for university admission.
  • If your child is not clear about what they want to study or do after school, I suggest they select a breadth of subjects that keep as many doors open as possible e.g. a Maths subject, a Science subject and a Humanities class.
  • For students heading to university who are unclear on what they want to do, enrol in general degree courses such as a Bachelor of Arts or Science. Once at university, students will often find their passion areas and can complete post-graduate degrees and further specialisation.
  • Vocational subjects can offer a terrific alternative, particularly for students who want to follow a trade-based career after school, but I recommend they get advice from school staff so they understand where selected courses may take them.
  • HRS has great choices for vocational subjects and traditional academic subjects — the trick is obtaining help for your child to find the right pathway for them.

While the start of the year may seem a little overwhelming, a few weeks of support and getting to grips with how to be prepared and organised will help students settle in and ensure the rest of the school year runs smoothly. To help plan out activities during your family’s week, why not download our 2024 Weekly Planner.