A child’s transition from primary school to secondary school might very well affect the entire family. This is an exhilarating yet also frightening and frustrating time for a typical child, so parents should recognise that their child may need extra support during this transition.
Taking a child to visit the new school, discussing how to make new friends, helping the child get used to a varied schedule, staying available to assist the child with homework and projects, and encouraging the child to join clubs and teams are all ways that parents can help assist their child with a successful transition.
Visiting the School
Many children feel overwhelmed and anxious about attending secondary school for the first time, even though they might not necessarily admit to these feelings. Whether they ask to visit their new school or not, parents might consider insisting on it by saying that they would like to re-acquaint themselves with the grounds or the facilities.
This can be an easy ‘out’ for children who don’t want to tell others that they are feeling anxious. If touring the grounds or attending an orientation is not possible, parents can at least drive their children past the school so that even the entry-way doesn’t seem as formidable on that first day.
Making New Friends
Some children will have gone through primary school without meeting new students or having new students transfer into their classes, so the idea of making new friends in secondary school can be quite scary. To help children with making new friends, parents might want to enrol their kids in summer activities that will force them to meet others, or even roll play how children can introduce themselves to others and help to spark new friendships. Again, this may be a fear that children are not willing to admit, so parents may need to initiate these activities even if a child seems a little reluctant to engage.
Getting Used to a Varied Schedule
Primary schools are often highly structured environments in which children do the same thing at the same time on the same days. In contrast, secondary schools usually run according to a varied schedule that requires children to move classes, change teachers and adjust to different groups of children as frequently as every half hour or 45 minutes.
In the summer leading up to secondary school, parents may find that encouraging their children to switch activities frequently helps them cope a little bit better with their schedules when secondary school starts.
Staying On Top of Homework and Projects
Secondary school often brings with it a variety of homework and projects, and while parents should definitely not be completing these tasks for their children they certainly can offer information and advice. Parents can share time management techniques with their children, help them set up an appropriate work area at home and get used to research methods at the local library, on the Internet and with reference books so that when their children do need to start their own work they don’t have to waste any time on these tasks.
Joining Clubs and Teams
Many children are reluctant to join clubs and teams in secondary school if it means that they will have to interact with older, and bigger, kids. However, if children avoid these activities, they will lose out on the chance to make new friends, enjoy the sport or subject and hone their skills in these areas. Parents should encourage kids to join clubs and teams even if the children themselves have some doubts, and some parents may even consider volunteering on these activities if they feel that it will benefit their children – or themselves!
Agreeing on Greater Independence
Secondary school students span a vast age range, not to mention a spectrum of maturity levels, so not every child will be ready for greater independence simply because they enter primary school. Parents may want to discuss their child’s expectations about greater independence at the start of secondary school and then communicate their own thoughts about issues such as dating, parties and curfews. This can be a particularly prickly discussion if parents and children don’t agree on these topics, so you should take particular care to show that you support your children and are only trying to do what is best for them.