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Preparing your child (and yourself) for secondary school

Is your child heading off to secondary school in the next academic year? At Primary Tutor Project, we know that this can be a nerve-wracking time for both you and your child. To help ease the collective nerves, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you and your child are ready. There are plenty of ways in which you can help your child transition from primary to secondary school smoothly. Here are some of our tops tips from our tutors to help you and your child get ready for secondary school!

Talk about new school nerves

For your child it can be quite a transition from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond. Confident children can become very shy because they find the first year difficult. Talk to your child about how you feel when you start somewhere new (school, job, sports team) and let them know it is normal to feel nervous. Encourage your child to ask fellow pupils or teachers if they can’t find their way round, or don’t know how to do something. Assure your child that although other people may look and sound very confident, they may well be just as nervous as you.

Talk about the possible changes in advance

Ask your child about what they are looking forward to, what they will miss about their old school and what they are worried about at secondary school. Then you have plenty of time to work out strategies and talk through any issues.

Don’t leave things to the first morning of secondary school

One of the most important things to remember as a parent. Try not to leave trying on the school uniform, wearing school shoes, using a school bag to the morning of the first day of school. If something doesn’t fit or is broken it is too late finding out on the first morning of school! This can bring on unnecessary stress for both you and your child.

Familiarity can be comforting and confidence boosting

If possible, bring your child to open days in the school, attend school productions and games. Go for walks in and around the school and the local area. This will give your child a sense of familiarity with the area and the school and help instil a feeling of control and confidence.

Encourage independence

Is your child going to have to take a bus, or walk, or cycle to school? If so, and they’re not used to doing this, have a few practice sessions in the year leading up to school. Make the first go on a Sunday or at a quiet time of the day. Cycle or walk the route so they are confident with their directions. If taking the school bus, try to do some practice runs on public buses. The school bus can be a scary place as a child if you are unfamiliar with it. Remind your child to be courteous to the bus driver and to let you, the bus driver and teachers know if any bullying occurs.

Encourage independent responsibility

Your child will have to be organised far more than in primary school. In the final year of primary school, help your child become more responsible for their PE kit, homework and books, so they’re prepared when it comes to secondary school. Get them into the habit of getting their bags ready the night before, especially if they have to leave early to catch a bus, train or get a lift. An activity planner on the wall can be very useful to help keep your child organised.

Use the school’s website

Encourage your child to look around the new school’s website. Try to find out about how they go about getting a locker, do they have prepaid swipe cards for the canteen etc.? Some schools offer mentor programs- see can they find info about this online.

Get your child ready to make new friends

The most important aspect of school for social development are the friends children make. Prepare your child for this by talking about making new friends and discussing when they last made new friends how they did it. Encourage them not to be shy and to put themselves out there!

Finally, prepare yourself. It will be a big change for you as a parent. Teachers are very conscious that the transition from primary school to secondary is a major step. Don’t be afraid to ask teachers questions. Don’t forget, children are far more resilient and adaptable than parents give them credit for. Also, don’t forget to give your child some leeway- your child may find it tiring adjusting and may need some time to figure things out. If you need any advice or feel your child may need some academic support prior to starting secondary school feel free to contact us here at Primary Tutor Project.