My second son is starting high school (grade 7) at Polytechnic University's Laboratory High School. It means he transferred from the school where he started out in elementary where everything and everyone is already familiar, and where it is only a tricycle ride away from the house, to one of the biggest colleges in the Philippines, and where he had to commute via a jeep and then walk by himself to school. If that is not cause for stress for any well-meaning parent, then I don't know what is!
So here are just some tips on what I have been doing to manage my stress:
1. Familiarize him with the new surroundings. From the time that my son applied for the entrance examination up to enrollment, I always bring him with me to the school. I toured him around the campus (I graduated from PUP), showed him where to eat and showed him how to commute from the house. This way, I know that he is familiar with the route to and from school, and he knows exactly where he is in the campus so I know that he won't get lost or disoriented.
2. Give him a sensible phone. I had him bring my old blackberry, kept in silent mode in his pocket with instructions for him to call me at anytime if there is a problem. I also told him to text me before he leaves the school, then put the phone back in his bag, and then to text me again the minute he is at home. He was told not to play with his phone in school or inside the jeep. The phone is strictly for communication.
3. Remind him to ask questions. He is shy but I remind him to always not be afraid to ask questions or directions or to ask the teacher to repeat instructions. I tell him there is nothing wrong with asking and he should do so when he is unsure.
4. Don't talk to strangers. I told him not to talk to strangers. Especially since he had to walk a long way from the jeepney stop to school and back. He must avoid being accosted by thugs, and he must walk in groups or right behind a group. In case he was held up for his money and cellphone, he must give it up right away without struggle and then to go inside the school and tell the guard to call me and I will go get him right away.
5. Make friends. I told him that I would feel so much better if he makes friends right away so that he has somebody to share the new experiences in school. But to make sure to look for the right kinds of friends that are interested in school.
6. Tell me if there is a problem. I told him that if anything or anyone is bothering him, he must tell me so I can help him. If he is being bullied or if he is not very comfortable at school, he must tell so we can remedy the problem.
Letting go of one's child is really stressful. I have to work and I can't be with him all the time. But knowing that I have prepared him well should be enough to keep the stress away. Now, excuse while I wring my hands while waiting for my son's text message!