Programme for kids preparing for high school reaches 20 years

It's not just about the subjects – a rural programme helps kids prepare for more classmates and social pressures.

Joshua Hoehne/unsplash

It’s not just about the subjects – a rural programme helps kids prepare for more classmates and social pressures.

Starting high school is stressful enough without the fear of not knowing your peers, says a rural support organisation hosting events to aid the transition.

Manawatū Rural Support Services has run a programme for rural tamariki for thepast 20 years, with no sign of stopping.

Judy Jack​, who founded the programme, said the needs of rural young people transitioning to high school hadn’t changed in 20 years – they were just now more likely to have a cell phone.

“Some rural schools might only have two children in year 8, then suddenly they might have 300 peers in year 9… children get quite anxious about it,” she said.

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Jack came up with the idea for the support service based on her experience as principal at Kiwitea School.

Now retired, but still on the board of the support service, she continued to attend every programme.

The modules ranged from learning about peer pressure and how to avoid it, to setting goals and making decisions, self-worth, and bullying.

Equally as important was learning how to make friends, which Jack said the programme naturally accomplished.

“We tell them that even if you have just one person you know, you’ll never be alone.”

The programme frequently had up to 40 participants, ensuring children would meet a number of peers attending the same high school.

The programme runs on January 27 from 9am to 3pm at the Kiwitea hall. There is no cost, and lunch and morning tea is provided. Registrations are essential and limited.

The form can be found on the Manawatū Neighbourhood Support Facebook page.

Parents are recommended to register by Januaruy 23.

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