The transition to secondary school can be daunting and scary for our children, but don’t underestimate how anxious it can make you feel as a parent also.
There are a few things that you can do during the next few months to help make their transition to secondary education easier and successful for both you and them. It is important to remember this is a journey and that things won’t change overnight. It may need to be adapted and changed as you progress through together.
The ultimate goal for our children before starting this next phase of their education journey, is to feel confident, have more independence and behave responsibly.
Try to remember your experiences as you went through this transition, share your experience and feelings honestly with your child, discuss any negative experiences but give positive outcomes or solutions e.g. I was really nervous on my first day, but I walked with my best friend and we chatted all the way and by the end of the first day had made new friends with people in our lessons.
The pandemic has created an additional level of anxiety for our children and so we need to support them over the coming months with opportunities for them to practise using skills and thinking that will support a seamless transition to secondary school.
Below are some ideas of ways you can create opportunities to develop and improve important skills ready for the next step in their education journey.
Encourage open and honest communication
This is so important for both you and your child, not only going through the transition from primary to secondary education but also as you embark on that often challenging journey of the teenage years. As busy adults, it is easy to miss subtle hints or comments made by our children that indicate they need to talk, so try to spot and listen for the signs.
Build their resilience and independence
It can be tricky as an adult to encourage our children to be resilient and become independent but these skills are so needed when they get to secondary education and life beyond. It is a natural instinct to want to give all the answers and solve the problems particularly when something is challenging for our children. However, this isn’t always good for them.
To build resilience and independence, it is important to encourage them to keep trying when they are not succeeding first time. One way to develop these at home is by encouraging them to take responsibility for some jobs around the house. It could be keeping their room clean and tidy – including changing their bed, setting and clearing the table, helping to make a meal or perhaps making their lunch for school.
Get them to think for themselves
Getting children to have the confidence to think for themselves can be tricky! It is definitely an interesting skill to support them in practising. Encouraging them to use their initiative is important because when they move to secondary school, they will be expected to use common sense and not wait to be told what to do e.g. sharpen their pencil or get their pen out ready to write without being prompted.
This is where it can become tricky as the best way to develop this skill is to not give them all the answers.
When they ask you something, ask them what they think. For example, do I need a coat? Ask them what they could do to work out the answer to their question and encourage them to make the decision. You can always discuss how they came to the decision later!
Help them to talk about themselves positively
It is important for us to encourage our children to speak positively about themselves. We are often our biggest critic and this can mean that we go beyond constructively criticising ourselves and can be negative saying things that we wouldn’t dream of saying to others.
So encourage your child to speak positively about what they can do and constructively about things they could do better. They should use phrases like “I can”, “I am” and “I will”. Even if they can’t do something it should be seen as “I will” be able to do or “I can’t do …..YET!” The yet is very important as it means they know they will be able to do it in the future.
Plan and organise their time responsibly
Don’t underestimate the importance of this skill! You will find that as they get older that temptation to nag them to do their work will creep in! The move to secondary can make their lives even more busy with clubs, seeing friends, family outings and the dreaded homework, but now they have to be responsible for their time!
Encourage them to plan out their week. It could be a structured routine, some respond well to knowing what they are doing when and this reduces anxiety, but it could also be left to them to be a bit more flexible. I have timetable templates and videos that can support them with planning their time. This is a great exercise for them to plan themselves as they will take more ownership over it and commit to it happening.
Most important of all…Talk about the move to secondary school with them. Talk about the things to look forward to and discuss solutions to their worries. They should be approaching the transition with a nervous excitement.
If you feel you need more support and advice when it comes to transition why not join my Facebook group Sarah Yates Education Support.
Sarah is a leading educational consultant and qualified former teacher with over a decade of experience working with children and teenagers between the ages of 8–18 years old including being a teacher, sports coach, expedition leader, Head of Year 7, Head of Science and a Curriculum Manager. She is also an entrepreneur and owner of two separate businesses including a cake business Cakes by Yates.
As a mum of two, she is deeply passionate about helping parents support their child or teen academically during these challenging times by providing a different and more practical approach to learning within the home environment. By empowering parents and carers to confidently support their children both academically and emotionally means they are better able to transition successfully into secondary education and beyond.