Ever heard the saying ‘the only thing that’s constant in this life is change’? In the fast-paced world we live this is often very true. Change can be exciting, uncovering new opportunities, energising and motivating us. However, change can also mean uncertainty, loss and be downright overwhelming for some. For our children to grow into resilient and successful citizens they need to learn to adapt to change.
Already, young people of Intermediate and high school age have experienced many different changes in their lives since they were quite young. All have made the transition to primary school; some will have moved house and a few will have experienced a pet passing on. Each of these changes brings loss but also new beginnings and a time to reflect on great memories.
How we respond to this change depends on our personality make-up and life experiences thus far, and the resources we have around us to draw support from. For example, a student who is a logical and practical thinker with a calmer disposition, coupled with positive experiences of change in the past and access to reliable sources of support, will find tackling an upcoming change in their lives easier than a student who cannot draw from the above intrinsic and extrinsic resources and positive experiences. It is also important to note that siblings may react or respond quite differently to the same change in their lives despite having grown up in exactly the same family environment.
For our boarders, next term will see the trial of a new vertical boarding system. Boarders will be grouped according to whether they are full or weekly and mixed in year levels throughout some of the boarding houses. Many students are excited about this change, but understandably some are a little anxious about what this will look like and how friendships will be affected.
Preparing for change
How can we help students adapt to this particular change in boarding, but also other changes they will face in life?
- As already mentioned, change requires adjustment. It takes energy to make this transition. Ensuring girls are well-rested when they return to begin Term 3 will give students the best head start. Change is much easier to manage when you are in good health and are not sleep-deprived.
- Harvest a positive attitude. Loss is scary, unsettling and overwhelming. We can find ourselves trying to resist the ‘new’, dwelling on the previous boarding set-up, pre-judging the new structure, feeling anxious and wanting to go back to how things were. Sometimes we see the ‘old’ through rose-tinted glasses, reminiscing about routines or qualities of our previous boarding house in an overly-optimistic and unrealistic fashion. Help students to focus instead on what they are gaining. Inspire a positive outlook of the term ahead in boarding. What are the benefits for them? Foster an attitude of giving it a go, reminding students that this is a trial and at the end of the term students will be able to give feedback from their perspective of what has worked and what has not.
- Boarding Supervisors, the Director of Boarding, School Counsellor, Homeroom Mentors and Year Deans are available to help with any issues that arise and students can approach them about any difficulties they are having.
Research in resilience shows the practice of overcoming challenges is a positive experience of learning and growth, and helps to build confidence. As parents, you are in an invaluable position to be able to reassure and bolster students ahead of this change. Weaving into conversations stories of changes you have successfully managed is also an effective strategy to inspire confidence that change can be positive. A wise person once reflected “Don’t be afraid of change. You may lose something good, but you may gain something better” (anonymous).
Mrs Kelly Fisher, School Counsellor