How to help your child prepare for secondary school

If your child is getting ready to make the move to secondary school, there are a few things you can do to ensure a smooth transition.

  • Prepare in advance
    To avoid stress, ensure that your child is prepared for school well in advance. This means buying uniforms, books and stationery before the last-minute rush and ensuring that paperwork, such as your child's travel concession form, has been organised. You might also think about tracking down a copy of a school map that your child can pop into their school diary to jog their memory if they forget the location of a class.
  • Stage a trial public transport run
    If you know that your child will be taking public transport to school, stage a trial run of their journey over the holidays. Encourage them to purchase their own pass or ticket (or top up their pass if they are using a smartcard) and discuss an alternative plan of action if something goes wrong (they miss a bus, for example).
  • Take advantage of school-run support sessions
    Most schools will run an orientation session to show students around their new school, familiarise them with the way classes are run, introduce them to fellow students and ensure that they have all the information they'll need on their first day. These sessions are usually run towards the end of the year before your child begins school. In addition, some schools may operate a ˜buddy' system that pairs Year 7 students with mentors and organise activities and events throughout the year to help students get to know each other and settle into secondary school.
  • Make sure that you address their concerns
    For some children, there's nothing more exciting than making the move to secondary schooling. For others, it can cause a lot of anxiety. It might be that your child is worried that they won't make friends at their new school or that they will struggle to adjust to the changes (a bigger campus, a more independent learning style and different teachers for each subject, for example). Ask your child about their concerns and ensure that they know they can ask you questions.
  • Share your own experiences
    It can be helpful to share your own experiences with your child to help them feel at ease. This might include discussing your own first day of secondary school or the types of issues you encountered and how you solved them. Another good idea is to have your child speak with a family friend or neighbour who has recently made the transition from primary to secondary school, as it may be beneficial to hear from someone closer to their age.
  • Encourage independence before the big move
    While it's likely that your child is already exercising more freedom than when they were younger, it's important to encourage them to become a little more independent. This might mean giving them a set of house keys, providing them with a mobile phone or allowing them to make their own way to school or friends' houses. This will help eliminate the ˜shock factor' when they begin secondary school.
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