Preparing for Secondary School: Easing the Transition

The move from primary to secondary school marks a major transition in a child’s life. While exciting, it can also feel daunting for both you and your child. With plenty of preparation, you can help ease the process and set them up for success in their new school.

Do Your Research

The first step is finding out as much as you can about your child’s new school. Check their website and prospectus for key information like the curriculum, extracurricular activities, school rules and expectations. If possible, attend open days to get a feel for the environment and meet key staff.

You could also arrange for your child to spend a taster day at the school before the new term. This will allow them to experience lessons, meet potential classmates and get familiar with the new surroundings. Some schools also hold summer schools which can be a useful introduction.

Chat About Concerns

Moving schools can bring up worries for children, even if they seem excited on the surface. Make time to chat openly and reassure them that any nerves are normal. Listen carefully to their concerns so you can address them.

Common worries include getting lost, struggling with work, falling out with friends and dealing with older pupils. Discuss practical tips like getting a map of the school, asking for help from teachers or buddying up with other new starters. Emphasise that difficulties at first are temporary and things will get easier. Speak to your fostering in Stockton agency if you need additional help with the transition.

Tour the New School

A school tour can demystify the new environment so that it feels less daunting on the first day. Phone the school to arrange a suitable time during term time before the move. Use the tour to familiarise your child with key locations like their classroom, the dining hall, library, toilets and playgrounds.

Pointing out things like colourful displays or the school pool can help them navigate and feel anchored in their new surroundings. Let them take photos to refer back to later. If a tour isn’t possible, provide a map and talk through potential routes.

Practice the Commute

Travelling to a new school each day will be an adjustment, so practise the commute in advance. Time the journey at peak times so you know how long it will take. Walk or drive the route so your child knows what to expect.

If they’ll be cycling or getting public transport, accompany them a few times so they feel confident doing it alone. Make sure they know the bus route numbers or have cycle maps. Having the logistics sorted will remove some uncertainty.

Get Equipped

Ensure your child has all the equipment required for their new school to avoid stressful scrambles at the start of term. Use the school’s stationery list to stock up on items like pens, pencils, rulers and calculators.

Shop together for the new school uniform and ensure shoes are broken in before term starts. Get spare versions of key items like ties and socks to avoid missing them on hectic mornings. Label everything clearly. Packing their new bag carefully the night before removes one thing to worry about on the first day.

Stay Positive

While preparing your child for the realities of their new school, remain upbeat and enthusiastic. Focussing on the positives like making new friends, broader subject choice and growing independence can build excitement.

Share your own secondary school memories and tell stories of other family or friends who initially struggled but ended up thriving. Having a growth mindset and viewing mistakes as learning opportunities will help your child embrace the challenges ahead.

With plenty of preparation and communication, the step up to secondary school does not need to be intimidating. Working together to make your child feel secure, organised and excited will set them up to embrace their new start with confidence.

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