Preparing for secondary school
January 1, 2017
Preparing your child for secondary school: A series of short steps
Choosing the school
You probably have some ideas about your local secondary schools from talking to other parents. First and foremost, it’s important to account for your child’s views about which secondary schools to apply to. Your child may be keen to continue school with their primary school friends and influenced by their friends’ secondary school choices.
Consider your child’s strengths and interests. Some secondary schools specialise in particular curriculum areas and this information could aid your decision. In addition, think about your child’s character and each school’s ethos: do the two ’match’, or are there aspects of the school your child may find difficult?
Talk to your child about what they might find challenging at a particular school as well as the benefits they would experience by attending it.
Aside from a school’s academic standards, extracurricular activities are very important. Involvement in clubs and societies can make a huge difference to a child’s secondary school experience as well as benefit their learning. The range of sports activities available can differ widely from school to school.
Moving from the top class of primary school, Year 6, to the bottom class of secondary, Year 7, is probably the biggest change of your child’s educational life to date. This change comes at a vulnerable stage in your child’s life and could affect their self-confidence for a time, therefore you need be very supportive of them during this period, even if their friends go to the same school, and you have older children attending the school.
Because moving schools is such a change, your child will be nervous. Take time to talk things through. Let your child know you realise they might be anxious and that you’re willing to listen. Children often feel better about their worries and concerns when they have a chance to share them.
Typical worries children have before they start secondary school include the following:
The journey – Will I get to school on time? What if the bus is late?
Finding their way around – My new school is so big, what if I get lost trying to find classrooms?
The work – Will I be able to keep up with my homework?
Bullying – Will I be bullied by other pupils?
Travelling to school
For many children, moving to secondary school means a longer, more complicated journey without a parent or carer to accompany them. Talk them through their new journey and rehearse it if necessary. Discuss what they should do if things go wrong, e.g. if the train is cancelled or they miss the bus.
If possible, try to find other children for your child to travel with – primary school friends are ideal. Be prepared to make the journey with them in the early days if this will boost their confidence.
Coping early on
It’s particularly important to be a good listener to your child in the early days of their transition to secondary school. Keep your time as free as possible early on; your child may be growing up, but they still need you. Look to be there when they get home to talk through how things are going.
The school is as keen as you are to make sure your child’s early days go smoothly. If you have any worries or concerns, ask if you can talk to your child’s form tutor or head of year. However minor a problem seems, it’s worth approaching the school for support if you or your child have concerns.