The leap from Primary School to Secondary School is one of the scariest moments your child can face.
The fun, cozy sanctuary that Primary School provides has gone, and it has been replaced by big, dull buildings.
Your child has gone from being one of the oldest pupils to one of the youngest. They’ve tumbled down to the bottom of the pecking order.
It’s a big change, and it’s important that you prepare your child for the new experiences Secondary School will bring.
Here’s how you can do it…
Almost every child feels nervous as their first day of Secondary School approaches. That fact in itself can help to reassure your child.
It’s important that you sit down with your child in the run-up to their first day. Ask them how they’re feeling, and if there’s anything they’re unsure about.
If you know the answers to their questions, then obviously you can answer them. Otherwise, it may be worth forwarding those questions on to members of staff, or asking other parents online.
Sometimes, your child simply needs to talk things through and have a shoulder to cry on. Just make sure they know they can come and talk to you about any worries they have.
If you know an older student who attends your child’s Secondary School, say a family friend, then you could enlist them as a mentor of sorts.
They’ll know all there is to know about your child’s new school, including the bits that teachers won’t tell you! They can be a great help to your child and answer any questions they have.
You could also ask this older child to keep an eye on your child for the first week or so to make sure they’ve settled in.
Some schools have a mentor or buddy scheme like this, but it won’t hurt to arrange your own.
The last thing you or your child need is to rush around buying some last minute supplies. You want to be as relaxed as possible in the run-up to the first school day.
Start shopping for all your child’s uniform, stationary, and everything else they need well in advance. Ideally a good few weeks before term starts.
Make a checklist before you start shopping so you don’t forget anything, and even if there’s something you don’t think you’ll need, it might be worth buying so your child doesn’t worry about it.
Finally, have your child try on their uniform ahead of time to make sure it all fits okay and that it’s comfortable. In fact, getting them involved with the shopping will make them more excited about school.
A common concern for those starting secondary school is how they’re going to get there. Your child will have a different walk to school, or even need to take a school bus.
Every child has nightmares of being late on their first day, so a good way to alleviate those fears is to practise the school route with them.
Walk with them along the route they’ll be taking, take the bus with them a couple of times so they know where to get on and off. They’ll then know what to expect from the journey.
This way they’ll be prepared for their route to school, and will no longer worry about being late, missing the bus, and having to show up halfway through the first lesson.
Most schools will organise induction days, where your child can go and spend some time in the school, get to know other students and teachers, and generally get a feel for what the school is like.
Though it might be tempting to skip these and enjoy some time off, it’s important that your child attends.
This is the first chance they get to make new friends and bond with others in their form or tutor group. It’s also an opportunity to find their way around the school — chances are it’ll be a lot bigger than Primary School.
Encourage your child to make the most of their induction days. They should ask any questions they don’t yet have the answers for. They can get their new friends’ phone numbers and social media details so they can keep in touch before school starts.
Essentially, induction days are there to help your child settle in so use them wisely.
Despite all of the advice we’ve given you, it’s also worth noting that you don’t want to overdo it.
By making Secondary School a big deal, you’re effectively reinforcing the idea that your child should be concerned about it. This can end up having the opposite effect.
Be sure to give your child some space as you approach the start of term. Sometimes they just need time to gather their thoughts.
It’s also a good idea to take their minds off school altogether. Plan some fun activities with them, or even just hang out with them if that’s what they would prefer.
Every child is nervous about starting Secondary School, and 99.99% of them end up loving it. Your child is going to be fine.
It’s best to approach starting a new school as a team. You’re all there to support each other.
Also be sure to take time to assess your own feelings. It’s as big a deal for parents as it is for their kids, and so you need to look after your own mental health too. Consider meeting with other parents to discuss any issues you have, and you’ll be able to solve them together.
Follow the advice above and you’ll make the transition from Primary to Secondary as smooth as possible for your child.
Best of luck!