We kick off the ‘back to school’ season with 5 Things that parents need to know if their child is off to secondary school for the first time this September.
(1) Organisation matters!
For the majority of children, leaving Primary school behind, the biggest challenge will be around organising their things. Whereas at junior school, they may have had one teacher the whole time, at secondary, they can have up to 12 or 13 different teachers! They will also require different materials for different subjects. Parents can help by doing the prep work the night before, sit with them and plan out what the next day is, get them to get their uniform ready and their timetable. Make sure homework is done. Keep helping them with the organisation until they start getting the hang of it themselves over the first initial weeks of big school.
(2) Independence does not happen overnight.
It is tempting to think ‘oh they are at secondary school now, I can sit back and watch’ and muse that they ought to be old enough now to sort out their own things but parents really need to scaffold the process. Going to secondary school for the first time can be emotionally challenging so the more help and support we can give our children during the transition the better. Build steps at home that will enable them to become more independent as the term begins. Ask them questions to check that they know what is required of them. Above all, be understanding.
(3) Keep doing their homework with them.
There is no doubt that children experience a ‘step up’ in terms of the subjects and level required by teachers when they go to big school. Be there in case they need help. It will be challenging and hard and they may feel that they have jumped in a deep end. Be a life support until they find their feet.
(4) Encourage them to join as many clubs as possible at their new school and to meet as many different people as they can.
By joining clubs they can expand their friendship group and experience lots of different sports and activities. Even if that particular activity is not their real passion, joining school clubs and societies is a great way to meet other children.
(5) Stay in touch with the school.
When our children attend primary school, it is easier to stay ‘in the loop’ with what is going on, as we bump into the teacher at the school gate and there is generally more parent-teacher time. This differs slightly at Secondary school where instead you will have to contact the school via the admin page. Most schools will take 24 hours to get back to you. Bear in mind that secondary teachers may have up to 200 children that they teach at any one point in time. They will give you the full support you need and will welcome your questions – just give them time to respond.
*With thanks to David Bullock, Deputy Head, Verulam School St Albans for agreeing to be interviewed for this blog!
admin August 26th, 2015