How To Help Children Prepare For Secondary School Over The Summer Holidays
As the summer holidays begin, the majority of pupils will only have the long summer holiday on their minds. However, for those year 6 children about to embark on their first year of secondary school, this may be a nerve-wracking time.
Here, Gwen Byrom, Head at Loughborough High School, offers some advice to parents on how they can support their sons and daughters as they make the transition to “big school”.
Children who are about to leave primary school will be feeling apprehensive about the unknown. While the move to secondary school can be daunting, it’s an important milestone in your child’s educational journey and in their personal lives. Here are some ways to prepare for that new start in September:
- Youngsters’ concerns often centre on the logistics of the school day at their new school. For example, year 7s will have to find their way to each class, get to know multiple teachers, rather than just the one teacher generally favoured in primary environments, and be organised with the equipment they need and when. It’s reassuring then to know that secondary schools are well versed in helping children adjust, and much of the initial few weeks is about orienteering themselves and feeling comfortable in the new routine.
- It’s a good idea for parents to maintain a sense of calm (even if they are also feeling apprehensive). Check what is needed in terms of uniform, stationery and equipment early on in the summer holidays – to avoid last minute stresses.
- Over the holidays, allow children to have some down time where they don’t have to focus on academic work. You can still continue their learning journey through fun activities, such as going camping, or by having a family day out at a museum. There is also real value in allowing children to get bored, so don’t feel you have to plan their every minute for them. Having to independently find something to do fosters creativity and self-management.
- If your child is going to be travelling to their new school alone, do a few dry runs of the planned route – both with an adult and without. This will help them feel comfortable, know what time to leave the house and ensure they know how to stay safe and confident on their first day.
- When the last week of the summer holidays looms, it’s wise to take the pressure off and have seven days plan-free to relax. After all, when the school term kicks in, the first few weeks may be very tiring.
- To help them make new friends, many schools will hold ‘getting to know each other’ sessions. Find out if the school has ‘buddy schemes’ whereby an older pupil can take your child under their wing – this is a great way to allay fears. Parents should encourage an open conversation throughout this period, staying positive and allaying any fears their child may have.
You will never be able to take away all of their fears, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Overcoming them will help build resilience and show them what they are capable of. What you can do, is provide them with the necessary support, knowledge and skills, to give them the confidence they need and to make the transition as smooth as possible.