As the summer term draws to a close, many children will now be preparing to leave their primary school and move to secondary. This can be a massive move, even for those moving between buildings on the same larger school campus.
It can be a big shock to the system, to go from being the oldest in your primary school to the youngest in a secondary school. Many secondary schools also have sixth form students, which can mean your eleven year old is going to school with eighteen year olds; that’s a massive adjustment and can be incredibly daunting for them to begin with.
It can be sad to be leaving behind friends and favourite teachers to take a step into the unknown, but there are many things we as parents can do to help our children with this transition.
In the majority of cases, at least one child will be going to the same secondary school as your child – and a lot of the time the entire class will be moving up to a new school. Find out who will be in your child’s new class, and contact their parents to arrange play dates over the school holidays.
When your child is worried about the uncertainty of a new school it’s important to remind them of what will still be familiar after the move.
Rehearse the school run
Secondary school is often a time when children begin making the journey to school alone. Whether this is the case, or you will still be taking your child to and from school, practise the route a few times beforehand. This will mean any first day nerves won’t be exacerbated by worrying which way to go, or not knowing which bus to catch or being unexpectedly stuck in traffic.
Time how long the journey takes, bearing in mind any bottlenecks for traffic. If your child will be walking, discuss the best places to cross roads, where to catch buses and so on.
It’s important to remember that while at primary school the parents are usually told off for children being late, at secondary school pupils are held responsible for their own timekeeping so it’s important to help your child to make sure they can get to school on time in the mornings.
Talk about worst case scenarios
Avoid scaremongering or making up things that could happen, but it is important to think about how your child will deal with certain things happening. What will they do if they miss the bus? What will they do if they lose their bus pass? What will they do if they lose their key, their mobile phone and so on?
Approach this subject calmly and with suggestions prepared, but allow your child to come up with their own ideas so that they feel capable of dealing with these situations should they arise.
Prepare for homework
Secondary school can often see a big increase in the amount of homework a child brings home. Don’t be caught off guard by this; talk about it beforehand, and agree how it will be dealt with. If possible prepare a dedicated space for homework, and talk about when it will be done and what will be expected.
In primary school it’s often the parents running around to ensure PE kits are ready, homework is done, books are in bags and so on. In the same way that schools make it the pupil’s responsibility to be on time for lessons, it will also be your child’s responsibility to have the right books and PE kit. You can help with this by encouraging organisation in all areas of home life. Many children will relish the opportunity to take control and responsibility for their own possessions.
For the first week of the new term, try to make sure you’re there when your child comes home from school. Be available to talk if they have any problems, but don’t push them for details. Even if your child has nothing to report, it will be important over the next few years, that they know you are there to listen when something does come up.
The transition from primary to secondary school can be a scary time for all concerned, but this can also be an exciting time. With a little preparation your child can enjoy their move to secondary school and all the opportunities that are to come.
for more information please visit ISBI Schools