Making the Most of the Journey That is School

Parent Liaison and Resources Officer, Cath Garrett-Jones, offers answers to some questions commonly asked by parents and carers.

Q I am worried my child will struggle to make friends. Is there anything I can do?

A Stay positive! Modelling friendship-building skills and talking about these might help your child too. Remember, friendships take time to develop and your child is just starting on his or her school journey – there are lots of new experiences ahead. Give it time and remember your child’s teachers are there to help both of you adjust to this change so chat with them about your concerns.

Q I can’t afford a new uniform or the ‘branded’ backpack my child wants. Will my child be left out or picked on as she fears she will be?

A Schools gather together children and young people from many backgrounds with many family traditions. All children are valued and if any child feels targeted or challenged, teachers are well placed to address this. Remind your child that his or her value is not measured by the bag carried or the new uniform worn; rather, by who he or she is.

Q How long does it take for a child to settle in to school?

A It depends on the child. Some children take to it smoothly, others can take a little longer. There is no set time. If you have concerns that your child is taking a little too long to settle in, chat with the teacher.

Q My child is sitting her HSC this year – and she has a part-time job. Whilst I love her work ethic and desire to work, I don’t want it to interrupt her studies. Should I encourage her to do both or focus only on the HSC this year?

A Again, it depends on the child. In my experience, some part-time work encouraged a measure of independence as well as developing time management skills. As a parent, you know when the pressure your child is feeling becomes overwhelming and you are the best judge of whether or not the part-time work is sustainable.

Q How often should I allow my child to buy something from the canteen?

A This is a family choice. Some families may rely on the school canteen for a daily salad sandwich for their child while others may view it as a special treat. The choice is yours. Encouraging your child to eat lunch before buying a treat such as an icy-pole is also something to keep in mind.

Q As a parent, how can I best handle negative social media issues, whether or not they are linked to school-based issues?

A Social media is a source of a great deal of communication among young people. Setting boundaries for the use of social media – including making yourself aware of the legal age limits for the use of certain sites − is a must. Check out for great resources and help handling cyberbullying and negative aspects of social media. If your child speaks to you about any concerns with social media and school friends, please ensure you contact the school.

How can I be more involved in my child’s school and get to know other parents better?

A Schools offer many opportunities for engagement with parents. You might like to volunteer to assist with reading, be a canteen helper, and assist with art and craft as well as attending liturgies, assemblies and parent information evenings. All of these events put you in touch with other parents and staff. Parents and carers are also warmly welcomed at their school’s Parents & Friends Association meetings. At these meetings you will hear the latest news about happenings around the school as well as have the opportunity to work with others to support P&F activities.

Q We love our child’s Catholic school, but don’t know how to connect more with our parish. Do you have any advice?

A Does your parish offer family groups or opportunities for you to volunteer, eg proclaimer of the Word or welcomer? Your parish family would appreciate your assistance and this is a great way to meet others whom you may not have otherwise encountered. Children’s liturgy or sacramental programs often need helpers too so keep an eye on the parish bulletin or chat to your parish priest for ideas.

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Cath Garrett-Jones Image
Cath Garrett-Jones

Cath is the Professional Officer (Parent Liaison & Resources) with the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese Schools Office.

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