Educating your daughter

Her education begins at home and continues with playgroup, school, college and perhaps university. Decisions, decisions...

Fitting in at a new school - helping your daughter find her niche

Written by Sue Goff on 15/03/2013

Q. My daughter, who is very bright, started a new high school last September, and feels that some of the girls she has become friends with are socially awkward, not out going… She is in an all girls school, and feels it is not the right fit for her, all of her complaints have to do with social issues and she’s afraid that she will never branch out into other groups. I’m hoping this is just a phase for a 14 year old girl at a new school?

A. This is a very natural concern for your daughter: we should never understimate the stress in changing school for a teenage girl and the aspects which concern her will often be to do with whether or not she will fit in socially and will make friends rather than her academic progress. She will be feeling insecure – as if the rug has been pulled out from under her feet – and inevitably anxieties about fitting in will be heightened (and possible exaggerated) as she establishes herself in a new social environment.

That said, we are now over halfway through the year so she should be settling and making friends by now. I suggest that you email her form tutor and/or Head of Year and ask them what their perception is of how comfortable she is around her clasmates. It may be that your daughter is exaggerating – or it may be true. In any case the form tutor will know the girls and how they are with each other so this is a very good starting point. Your daughter does not even need to know that you have asked this question – teachers are very good about being discreet! They will also know about the groupings within the class and the year – there may well be several social groups and your daughter may not have broken into the one she wants yet.

An excellent way to do so is to take up extra curricular activities – particularly the ones which are popular with the girls she wants to befriend. It might be dance club – debating – sports – ICT – choir. It is much easier to make friendships at lunchtime when there is time to chat rather than lesson time when focus is on the teacher and the topic. It may also well be the case that these other girls talk about things that happened last year, when your daughter was not in the school, and that can make her feel very ostracised – often not deliberately at all.

I hope very much that things will improve for her – in any case, once she is in Year 10 she will be in subject sets and option choices so she may well be associating with a completely different set of girls then. I would encourage her to stick it out and try to immerse herself in more activities and hope that this will help her.

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