From the College Counsellor

Welcome back Bethany girls and welcome to our new students and families!

The beginning of a new school year is a critical time for students, particularly for new students and Year 7 students. These students are faced with many changes- adapting to the culture and expectations of a new school, meeting new people, changes in educational expectations/practices, and meeting new teachers. In primary school, students are taught mainly in single classrooms, with familiar peers, and one to three teachers. However, in secondary school, they interact with many more students, in a variety of different subjects that take place in different classrooms, with different teachers that have different expectations for both performance and responsibility.

Transition from primary school to secondary school also comes at a time when students are also experiencing changes associated with their movement from childhood to adolescence. Understanding the nature and characteristics of young adolescent development can focus effort in meeting the needs of these students.

The National Middle School Association identified these developmental needs as:

  • Intellectual– young adolescent learners are curious, motivated to achieve when challenged and capable of problem-solving and complex thinking
  • Social– there is an intense need to belong and be accepted by their peers while finding their own place in the world. They are engaged in forming and questioning their own identities on many levels
  • Physical– they mature at different rates and experience rapid and irregular growth, with bodily changes causing awkward and uncoordinated movements
  • Emotional and psychological– they are vulnerable and self-conscious, and often experience unpredictable mood swings
  • Moral– they are idealistic and want to have an impact on making the world a better place.

Recent research makes clear that successful transition from primary to secondary schooling is significantly linked with understanding and addressing the developmental issues facing young adolescents.

Transitions can be exciting and fun and open the door to many opportunities both academically and socially. However, during these times it is also normal to feel nervous, or to feel weird and different at a new place, or to even miss your old friends. Change can evoke a variety of emotions, behaviours and concerns for both students and parents/caregivers.

Here at Bethany College we believe that ‘together we grow’ which highlights that students are not alone during this important milestone. The college community are dedicated to supporting the spiritual, social, emotional, academic and personal growth of Bethany students to ensure that they feel a sense of belonging within the school community. Together we grow so that students enjoy the secondary school experience and succeed in academic tasks.

There are many things parents and students can do to make the transition easier. Here some handy tips to help cope with the changes:

Parents:

  • Set aside some time to have a conversation with your daughter about her concerns
  • Validate and normalise her emotions
  • Encourage your daughter to look at other significant milestones or changes in her life and her successes in making that transition i.e. kindergarten or extra-curricular activities
  • Highlight your daughter’s strengths and how they have helped her overcome challenges in the past

Students:

  • Talk to a trusting adult or peer about your worries
  • Express how you are feeling through a journal
  • Engage in activities you enjoy i.e. sport, writing, drawing or listening to music
  • Talk to people- they are probably just as curious about you because you’re new!
  • Keep in contact with old friends or friends outside of school
  • Find an outlet whether it’s sport, writing a song/poem or drawing/painting
  • Be patient, kind and compassionate towards yourself and allow yourself the time to adjust

BETHANY’S COUNSELLING SERVICES

Bethany College provides counselling services to our students as part of the pastoral program.  This service reflects the values of the Bethany College tradition, with particular emphasis on the importance of “Act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God” as well as the importance of positive well-being.

The Bethany College Counsellor (Mrs Katerina Stratilas) is a Clinical Psychologist with extensive experience in working with adolescents as they embark on a journey of self-discovery, guided by the College ethos of love, faith and respect. The role of the school counsellor at Bethany College is to provide a counselling service for students and support for parents and teachers in respect to students.

All secondary students are welcome to approach the counselling service to request an appointment about any concern, with the expectation of a high level of trust and privacy.  Such a process can provide essential support for students experiencing difficulties.  Being a specialist in the area of adolescents, the school counsellor is especially familiar with the issues that are likely to emerge across the development period.  Counselling may also be seen as a preventative process aimed at enhancing resilience, stress management, study skills and health management, self-understanding/self-esteem, anxiety/depression… to name a few.

The counselling service is mindful of the benefits of a team approach to welfare and support; working with parents and teachers remains a priority. The counsellor will often make recommendations and referrals to external support services for students that need more long term or intensive support.

The counselling service is provided for all students 7 – 12. Students are welcome to self-refer, or can be referred directly by parents or teachers. Parents may advise the service in writing should they not want their daughters to have access to this service.

Once you overcome the initial challenges, you’ll be able to see just how positive change can be. The change into high school will enable you to grow, make new friendships, learn about new things, and have the support of many academic professionals that will facilitate your transition into adulthood.

 

Katerina Stratilas

College Counsellor