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Settling into Secondary School

Settling into Secondary School

Settling into Secondary School
Starting secondary school….a step towards autonomy, a significant milestone in the growing up process and the final farewell to childhood years.

This significant step in every child’s life, marks their passage into adolescence. Regardless of whether it is your eldest- the first in the family to experience this, or your youngest- the last to flea the nest, this transitionary period can be mysterious, anxious, exhilarating and overwhelming all at the same time for both parents and children alike.

Most of us will remember our first days and weeks at secondary school, hopefully for all of the right reasons. No doubt, this is exactly what you want for your little ones, as they embark on the next stage of their educational career.

There are a number of steps that you can take to make this transition period a little easier, things that will hopefully help you and your child to adjust to these new routines and settle in as quickly as possible.

1. Build confidence:
Confident children tend to be quite popular in school. However, striking the balance here is crucial, there is a very fine line between the confident all-rounder and the over confident bragger. Settling into any new environment requires positive self-esteem to be able to adapt to new surroundings. Children with high self-esteem are less likely to be bullied, or to bully. They can confidently say "no" to anything with which they don't feel comfortable with and choose their social groups with ease. To help build your child’s confidence, focus on their positive attributes; praise them, catch them in their good moments and compliment their positive behaviour. Try this daily for two weeks and watch their confidence grow and your relationship with them develop in a positive manner.

2. Listen and Support:
Try to make time to talk and listen to your child each day to check how things are going. Just giving attention in this way can help your child feel supported and more confident. However, be careful, resist the temptation to ask too many questions, especially when a child first gets home from school and is likely to be tired and short-tempered from coping with their busy day. Do not take it personally when they do not want to talk, remember that they are dealing with a huge amount of change in their lives. Give them the space that they need whilst letting them know that you are always there for them if they need to talk. Always remember to be a good listener! Studies continually recognize the positive impact of involving parents in their child’s education as the single biggest influence on a child’s development.

3. Get Organised:
Often secondary school starters lack independence, as they have been used to having everything done for them in the past. Not always easy, but you will need to loosen the reigns and give your child the autonomy that they need. With the increased work load, new subjects, new teachers, as well as unfamiliar surroundings, students need to become independent and need to do so pretty quickly. The key to gaining this independence at secondary school is to get organized. Simple steps to getting organized include:
  • Creating a weekly timetable which includes time for homework, extracurricular activities, social and free time.
  • Complete homework tasks on the day that they are set.
  • Pack school bags & lunches and set uniform out the night before, to ensure that they are ready for the following day.
  • Wake up early so that the getting ready process is relaxed and includes time for your child to eat a healthy breakfast at home.
  • Punctuality is key, you should aim to drop your child at school at least 20 minutes before class is due to start. This will give them time to meet their friends, get to their form room and organise their schedule for the day ahead.

4. Make Changes:
Think about any changes that you might need to make at home to ensure that your child has the time and space to complete their homework assignments, which will most likely have increased from primary school. You should check their homework diary regularly and if it looks empty check with other parents or the school to see if anything has been missed.
Secondary school children will need to feel that their parents trust them and give them the freedom that they feel they deserve (within reason). If there are younger siblings in the house for example, you may need to consider changing routines to accommodate this.

5. Encourage extracurricular activities:
Whether it is sport, music, drama, art, debate or other activities that enthuse your child, encourage them to join lunchtime or after-school clubs or teams. These are a fantastic way for your child to meet like-minded children who have similar interests to them. It is also a great way for them to make friends in a new environment. This often encourages children to widen their social circle which is very healthy at this age.

If you follow these 5 simple tips this should make for a much more positive start to the school year. Give your child a few weeks to settle in and remember that it can be a difficult time for everybody involved. Ensure you know the correct point of contact at the school for any problems that may arise. Don’t despair, this is a transitional period for them and is a necessary part of their development into adolescence….the ‘fun years’ or the ‘mindfield’ depending on how you look at it!
Written by Anna Flood, Family Friendly HQ's Education Expert
Read more about Anna our Family Education Expert