Middle and High School Life
School can be a rewarding or challenging time, sometimes both. Everyone experiences school differently, and it can be difficult to know what to do when it gets challenging. Read this section to learn: how to get involved in your school community, navigate your classes and where to seek support.
The purpose of school is to learn, and your classes should be taken seriously. While you should try your best, remember that grades aren’t more important than your health and don’t define your worth. School may have its challenges, but you don’t have to navigate them alone. Working through challenges will help you grow as an individual, both personally and professionally. School also gives you the opportunity to try new things! It’s a time to figure out what you like, what you’re good at and maybe what isn’t for you. This process will help shape your future.
Get involved at school
Activities at school give you the opportunity to connect with new friends, learn new skills and have fun. Some activities can even give you the experiene to help build your resume. Some ways to get involved at school are:
- Join a club. Check out posters on school bulletin boards, the school website or social media, or ask a teacher to learn about what’s available at your school. Look for things like games clubs, a mindfulness club, language clubs, cultural clubs and more. If your school doesn’t have a club you are interested in, talk to a teacher to see how to start your own club.
- Join a sports team, debate team, school band or choir. These activities are a great way to build teamwork skills, while also taking part in something you and your fellow peers are passionate about.
- Get involved with student government or the student council. This is a great way to build leadership skills, and contribute to a more positive school experience for you and your peers.
- Find positive initiatives in your community to get involved with or practice acts of kindness. This could include:
- Volunteering with your local food bank
- Help an organization gather toiletries, hygiene products, and other necessities to the homeless or low income individuals or families
- Send a classmate or friend an encouraging message or share something you appreciate about them
- Ask to put positive health messages in the morning announcements or in your school’s online newsletter
School is also a great time to explore different careers by volunteering or participating in a work experience program. These opportunities give you invaluable experience and help you make connections that could be a reference or mentors. Take time to talk to people who work in the areas that interest you, you never know what opportunities may come from it.
Navigating your classes
School life can be demanding. You have to wake up early, go from class to class and keep up with homework. At the same time, you are trying to have a healthy social life, have time for self-care and tackle other responsibilities and expectations. Having a lot on your plate can create stress, but making a plan for your school day, week, semester or year can help things run smoothly. Consider setting goals for yourself and putting deadlines and other reminders in your schedule. Check out these apps to help organize your plans and goals. These small steps can help you stay on top of homework and exams.
If you are worried about a class, assignment or test, there are ways to help make the situation better. Start by talking to your teacher about your concerns. Be honest about how you are feeling. Below are a few tips on talking with your teacher:
- Make an appointment to talk. If you want to talk with your teacher, let them know and give them an idea of why. Making an appointment shows you are serious about the topic you want to talk about. It will also give you time to prepare and make sure you know what you want to say.
- Write down and practice what you want to say. When we have something that is hard to talk about, we might forget or get too nervous. It will help your teacher understand the problem you are struggling with if you write down and practice talking about how you are feeling.
- Listen and be open to their advice. Your teacher has a lot of experience in helping students with their classes. You might feel embarrassed listening to them, feel like they know nothing, or don’t care about you, but they are there to help. Teachers want to see you do well and will offer you the best advice to improve your experience in class.
Where to get support
School will have its up and downs. Although it’s important to do your best, remember that your worth is not defined by your grades. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed by school, or other things going on in your life, there are ways to get the support you need.
- School Counsellor – Most schools have counsellors that are trained to help you with challenges that come up. These challenges don’t have to be related to school. They could be arguments with friends or difficulties at home. Think of counsellors as a great source for support with whatever you are struggling with or need. You can ask them about keeping your conversations confidential. You can also go to school counsellors for guidance on how to cope with anxiety about the future, how to do well in post-secondary, tips for getting your first job, or to learn more about a career path you are interested in. If in-person appointments aren’t available, see if your school counsellor is able to connect virtually.
- School Nurse (if available) – Some schools have school nurses or health centres. Nurses are a great resource to talk about your health concerns including anything related to mental health, sexual health or physical health. Check with a counselor or teacher to see if you are able to connect with your school nurse.
- Teacher or other school staff member – You may want to start by asking a trusted teacher or office staff you are comfortable with about what help is available for you. They may be able to help you or refer you to the right place.
- Parents or another trusted adult – The adults in your life are a great resource to talk to and work through challenges you are experiencing at school. They have life experience that can help you understand your feelings and suggest actions to improve the situation.
- Friends – Your friends can be a great source of support. You can tell them what is happening at school and how it makes you feel (for example, if you are struggling with a class). While your friends are important supports in your life, they are still figuring out a lot of these things too! It may be most helpful to seek advice or identify solutions with a trusted adult. If you feel uncomfortable talking to an adult, ask a friend if they could talk to the teacher or trusted adult with you or on your behalf.
There are also a number of other resources and services to support you that are free of charge and confidential. Check out our Get Support page for more information. If you are concerned about a friend, check out some tips for talking to a friend.
Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that will help you.