As I write this, my daughter has just completed her first half term at secondary school. I’ve learned a fair few things so far, so I thought it might be handy to share a few tips with you to help you, something of a guide for getting ready for secondary school.
I’ll kick off with the practicalities, as these are the list items to arrange and tick off.
Take part in any inductions.
Most schools will have some sort of early induction, usually towards the end of your child’s primary school year.
Of course, many have been virtual ion recent times, but ideally these will include a visit to the school and perhaps meeting new teachers and classmates. There might even be summer schools. Encourage your child to join in with opportunities like this as they can be reassuring and help to build those first connections with people.
Have a practice run or two of the journey.
This might be a short stroll, it might be a longer journey on public transport, but either way, just give it a run through with them. It’ll reassure them that they know the way, what to expect that first day and give them the chance to ask any questions or raise concerns about it.
Get the uniform early.
Now, this might seem counterintuitive as they could grow so you want to get it nearer to the time? I get you, but no. The amount of people I heard of who were struggling to get hold of uniform items that they needed late summer, it’s not worth the risk.
You don’t need to be worrying that they haven’t got all they need along with dealing with them finishing primary school and reassuring them about their next adventure. Get that uniform out of the way early.
Set up a homework area.
This might be in their bedroom or somewhere else in the home and it just needs to have all that they’ll need to hand and give them a bit of peace and quiet so they can get it done.
Get as large a school bag as they can carry.
It amazes me how much stuff my daughter carries in to school daily, so make it easy for them and go big with that backpack. Similarly, you’ll want to pick something up for their PE kit so get a bag in for that too.
Check into lunch and canteen arrangements.
It might be easiest to plan for packed lunches initially, while your child get used to the new systems and the school gets them set up on the system for the canteen.
If possible, make a few early connections with other children.
Your child might be going to school with loads or their primary school friends, in which case this is probably a step you can skip.
However, if they could do with knowing a friendly face or two on the first day, see if you can arrange meet ups with other kids who will be starting. My daughter’s year had a parents WhatsApp group set up and arranged a couple of meets ups so it was reassuring for those children to meet a few new people that they would then see during that first week.
All of these practicalities will ensure that you and your child feel organised and ready for what’s to come. They are items that can be ticked off a list and got out of the way so that you can then focus on the real work. Reassuring your child about any worries they have and preparing them, and you, for the next step.
Be ready for emotions to run high.
It is a big step. Be ready for tiredness, new attitudes, fresh concerns and uncertainty.
My girl enjoys her new school and is happy there. But believe me when I say this first half term can be a roller-coaster of emotions!
It is a huge adjustment for them. They are moving from an environment where they knew all of the rules, the teachers, the routines and most importantly their classmates to the unknown. And if your child is like mine, a place they absolutely loved so they will be missing it.
At secondary school, they often have longer days with travel too, they are probably being challenged more academically and they are getting to know lots of new people which is exhausting.
Homework is likely to be a step up from primary school and they need to keep on top of it all and the deadlines, and then ensure they’re taking the right books and materials into school each day.
The biggest thing is the shift in independence and responsibility. From getting their homework done to finding their way to the right lessons to catching the bus on time. It’s a lot.
They need to adjust to this and we need to let them get on with it and take that responsibility for themselves and their work. Support, take an interest, be there to listen to everything they have going on, but it’s then all about encouraging them to ‘own’ it rather than taking over for them.
As I say, it’s a roller-coaster. So strap yourself in, get ready for a whole new world and best of luck to you and your child. They will smash it.