Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Wonderful World of High School

Alana now has seven days of high school under her belt; four of them at school and three on camp. She seems to be taking to it like a duck to water. Every afternoon when she gets home she is full of amusing anecdotes about her classes, her friends, the bus ride etc. She has a nice group of friends that she eats lunch with; and other kids that she sits next to in her classes. She's coping fine with her timetable, and is getting stuck into her homework (though she isn't too thrilled with the amount of maths homework that she's getting!).

The highlight so far has been the three day camp at Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Camp. The Year 10 Peer Support Leaders went with them, which Alana really enjoyed. She liked getting to know some of the older kids, and had a great time participating in all the activities. Her favourite was the raft building activity. Each group was given an assortment of wooden planks, inner tubes, barrels and ropes, and was given the challenge to build the best raft possible. Then two of the group members had to row out to a buoy and back on the bay. Points were given for raft design, staying afloat and staying on board. Alana's group made "the best raft we've ever seen in all our years at this camp", and she was one of the two that rowed the raft, which stayed afloat all the way without losing either of the sailors overboard!

The social side of starting at a new school is a big deal. Alana was the only student from her primary school to go to her high school. Before starting, she knew three other girls to speak to, and a handful of other kids by name and by sight. She also knew a handful of older students through various after-school activities, though only by sight and by name, not really to talk to. So it really was a big deal for her to start with a Year 7 cohort of 180 kids in a school of 1080 students. I'm pleased to say she took it all in stride and is making friends left, right and centre. Which brings me to our next issue...Facebook.

Up until now, we've been able to tell Alana that she's too young for Facebook and she's accepted that ruling, despite the fact that quite a few of her friends from school had an account. But now we've conceded defeat. Her youth group uses Facebook to communicate with all the members; Alana was constantly out of the loop. Her new friends from high school come from all over, and lots of them use Facebook to keep in touch when not at school. In fact, Alana has so many friends with Facebook accounts that there are photos of her all over it; from last year's Year 6 Farewell, youth group activities, birthday parties and so on.

And so we are carefully navigating the new territory called "when your eleven year old daughter starts a facebook account". Firstly, she had to fake her date of birth so that she could open an account. How lovely to teach your child that it's sometimes ok to lie about your age. Then we had to discuss privacy issues. Luckily, my friend Ruth at Skerricks has been talking about just these issues lately. What would I do without wise friends? If you're interested, check out this post about Safer Internet Day 2010, or this one about Facebook privacy settings. Armed with this knowledge, we have made sure that Alana knows only to add friends that she personally knows outside Facebook. We've also ensured that her settings are such that only friends (not everyone) can view what she posts and information about her. And we've made sure that photo tags (where she is identified by name on photos) can be seen by friends only. 

So, any advice friends? What will be my next adventure on this road as Alana heads into teenagehood? 


L S said...

Hi Fiona,
I was looking at the FB privacy settings the other day. Apparently the under 18s are allowed access, though limited as to which applications/settings they can use. My 5 1/2 and 8 yr olds are way too young, though I understand a lot of teenagers use it.
Have just tightened up my own settings after I realised a long distance FB friend is also a friend of a teacher at the school I'd like to be employed by. -Don't want to be 'read' out of context!
Good luck. Am pleased that stage is well ahead of me. We're only just into DS games!

Fiona said...

Hi Louise, hope your kids have settled in at school. It's amazing how fast time flies- having a kid in high school makes me feel old!