Going to Secondary School

Making the transition from Primary to Secondary school easier

The transition from primary to secondary school can be a nerve-wracking experience for both child and parent, but if you take some time to prepare for what is to come then the experience will be a solely enjoyable one.

To help, we've created a checklist of what to prepare for and what to expect when your little one takes that big step…

1. Be prepared

Keep the calendar updated with term dates, holidays, exams and any special events happening so both you and your child knows what is going on at all times. Make sure you encourage your child to update this calendar but keep an eye out - if it remains blank for too long then chase them up.

Remember when your Mum forgot about that non-uniform day and you turned up looking smart, whilst your friends showed off their new trainers and jeans? Or when you didn't take home the permission slip for that school trip, so you got to school and there was a last minute panic and phoning home to get Mum's verbal permission? Don't let that happen to your child, check if they have any letters and look on the school website for any upcoming events.

2. Administration

To help with the above, sign up to any administration services the school offers, many implement payment services and form filling online, through service providers such as Parentmail, to save costs and the impact on the environment. It's a great way to connect with members of staff at the school and keep up to date, should your child have school dinners or a trip that needs paying for in installments.

Once they come home with their timetable and map of the school grounds sit down with them and figure out where their classrooms are the day before, so they feel confident about where to go.

3. Uniform

Be sure to check the uniform requirements and if you are able to then order extra, they will still be playing in the playground in their first year of secondary (for the first couple of months anyway) before they properly make the transition into their teenage years, so there will be some scuffs on shoes and potential holes in coats and trousers.

School is a daunting time for young children and they think they need to look good and be seen wearing the latest fashion to fit in. If the school allows it accommodate their requests a little, with a school bag of their choice or a fun pencil case design.

Check what equipment they need, stationary is not provided at secondary school so they will need to take pens and pencils with them. Most schools ask that your child brings with them a: scientific calculator, pencil case with pens, pencils, rubber, ruler and a geometry set, as well as an English and French dictionary.

4. Friends

Invite over children from their primary school who are also moving up to the same secondary and arrange for them to walk, bike or get the bus together to school. They will feel a lot better on that first day if they have someone they know to talk to and hang around with at lunchtime.

5. Extra curricular activities

If your child seems to be struggling to fit in with the people in their form group, and this can easily happen, encourage them to join an extra curricular activity whether it be a sports team, drama group or an IT club. Once they find an environment they are comfortable with and meet like-minded individuals they should start making new friends in no time.

6. Take time

It's natural for your child to feel nervous about the whole transition so make sure you take time to listen to their concerns and assure them that this an exciting change.

Make sure your environment at home is an encouraging one, always praise them when they do well and try not to get frustrated if they are struggling with a certain subject. This applies when they start school and are given homework, so always take time out to stop and help them or check that they understand what they are working on.

Keep an eye on their behaviour, it will be normal for them to have bad days where they feel like they haven't done very well in class or fallen out with a friend, make sure you take time to listen to their concerns and remember their problems might seem small but in secondary school they can feel like the weight of the world is upon them. Keep praising them and assure them that everything will work out. If you feel like their behaviour is a result of bullying watch out for the signs highlighted here.

Overall, allow the transition to happen naturally, if there are any small problems let your child to fix these themselves and give them some more responsibility at home. Don't be that parent who rushes up to the school at the first sign of trouble, stand back and let them figure things out for themselves unless it's something serious of course.

Secondary school can be daunting and feel very grown up compared to what they have experienced before, if they still enjoy playing with toys, let them and if they need a cuddle after a long day make sure you take some time to accommodate them.

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