Moving from primary to secondary school can be a daunting time in any child’s life, with the prospect of a completely new routine looming large over the summer holidays. Secondary school poses a whole new set of challenges, which can be exciting but also overwhelming for some children. There are a number of different things that parents can do to help make the transition from primary to secondary school easier and alleviate any potential concerns their child may have.
Visit the new secondary school
When children start secondary school they are thrust into a completely new environment, which will be different in many ways from their primary school. Simply visiting the school before the new school year starts helps ease any anxious feelings about starting somewhere new. Being able to picture the school from both the inside and the outside will help a child to imagine how they will fit in to the overall life of the school once term starts and minimises any fear of the unknown which they may have.
It is important that parents listen to the apprehensions a child may have about secondary school, rather than shrugging it off. If a child has an older sibling or cousin, simply getting them to have a quick chat about what to expect from secondary school helps quell any worries a child may have about starting at their new school. Hearing about the many interesting and exciting aspects of secondary school also helps to give a child a more positive outlook about the transition from primary to secondary school.
Join teams and clubs
A great way for children to take an active role in the life of their new school is to take part in the extra-curricular activities that the school offers. Taking part in these activities with other children helps them build friendships with their new classmates. Mastering a new sport or activity also builds their confidence as they progress through the school year.
Building on what was learnt in the previous school year
Studies have found that over the course of the six-week summer holiday children’s academic progress may suffer. Keeping a child’s mind active throughout the summer holidays can help to build on the progress made in the previous school year. There are some quick and easy ways to ensure that your child is ready for the step up to secondary school.
• Games – Playing games that practise a particular skill helps to keep a child’s mind active over the long summer holiday. Old-fashioned playing card games like whist and rummy help children develop visual memory and numeracy skills, and they are great fun too. Playing Scrabble is an excellent way of developing a child’s vocabulary and spelling skills. Any type of board game is helpful, even that old favourite Monopoly.
• Study sessions – These sessions do not need to be onerous or overbearing but could help give your child the edge when they start the new year at secondary school. A short study period of half an hour each day can have dramatic effects. Books published by AE Publications form part of such a programme and help build your child’s foundational skills in maths and English.
Organisation is Key
One of the most challenging aspects of starting secondary school is dealing with a more complex and demanding schedule. Simply getting to and from the new school is often difficult at first until there is an established routine. It is best to ensure your child is ready for each new school day by getting everything ready the night before – materials, books, uniform, etc. Things can often be forgotten or missed if this is attempted every morning instead. The amount of homework a child will be required to do may also pose a challenge. Set times for doing work at home, in the evening, will help to create a structured day, which will ensure that your child does not fall behind. Building a sense of routine both at school and at home will help to make a child’s transition from primary to secondary school as smooth as possible.