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How to help your child move from primary to secondary with a smile

How to help your child move from primary to secondary with a smile

For some kids the transition from primary to secondary is easy. Many of their friends will be joining them and they love their new three-sizes-too-big uniform. For others it can be harder. A time of high anxiety, worry about not fitting in, fear of getting lost or not understanding timetables.

What can be done to help kids transition into ‘big school’ with a smile on their face? Many schools have transition co-ordinators, or hard working year coordinators who liaise with primary schools in their catchment zones and work behind the scenes to get to know their new kids before they arrive.

Some schools hold ‘transition days’ allowing kids to spend time at their new school before they break for holidays. Most teachers understand relationships are key to settling in and will do their best to make sure students make friends quickly.
But, what can parents do? Here are a few tips to help you help your child transition easily.

1. Positive stories.

Perception of the new school is very important. Parents need to help create a positive image of their child’s new school. It is not helpful to hear about the bad experiences their siblings, older friends, their grandparents or even their parents had when they entered high school. Stories of older kids picking on the younger ones, getting lost on campus or not remembering sports uniform on the first day will only add to your child’s anxiety. Talk to the family and agree on a positive approach when discussing transition.

2. Prepare and discuss.

Don’t leave getting organised to the final week of holidays. Make time throughout the holidays to cover books together, shop for stationary, try on uniforms. These times are also great moments to talk through any anxieties your child may be having. Don’t just brush off these concerns. If you know exactly what is bothering your child about the transition, then you may be able to help. If you can address anxieties early and specifically, you may be able to avoid having them snowball out of control in your child’s mind.

3. A practice run. 

Many kids are nervous about how they will be getting to and from school. Where should they stand when you pick them up? Where will the bus route go? Talk to them about your decisions regarding transport. If you plan to drive your child, do the drive with them over the holidays to show them where they are going to be dropped off and picked up. If they are catching public transport, look up the route on Google Maps and do the run with them before starting school.

4. Make happiness a priority.

For parents and their children, concerns about making friends, bullying and harassment often arise. Your school will be holding events to help your child settle in and will also have anti bullying whole school policies. Encourage your child to get involved in lunch time and after school activities (it will only add to their academic development, not distract from it!), remind them about other times when they had to make friends and read the school anti bullying policies and discuss this with your child if you feel it necessary. Celebrate the first day or the first week with something special that your child can look forward to. 

Keep in mind that although, as a parent, this may be your first or even tenth (!) child who has transitioned from primary to secondary, but remember your child’s school has experience transitioning thousands of kids. Let your school know if your child is extra nervous, they may have more advice, or just to allow teachers to keep a close eye on them on the first day.

Good Luck, stay positive!