BIG FISH TO SMALL FISH
By the time a child reaches their final years in primary school, they will be totally familiar with their school environment. They will know their teacher very well, be comfortable with most if not all of the people in their class and will probably know most of the other faces in the school too. By Year 6, they are the most senior people in their school, they will be used to being given responsibility and they tend to be looked up to by the younger boys and girls in the school.
Within a few short months these same students revert to being the most junior again in a brand new social environment, with a different atmosphere. Change can be a daunting task for any one of us but when you are 11 or 12 – with so many other ‘complications’ in your life - it is a change that takes quite a lot of adjusting to.
The important thing to remind yourself is that children and teenagers are more resilient and adaptable than we are (or give them credit for). Remember too, that within a few short weeks of the start of term, their new surroundings will become more familiar and they will be running from the gym to the Science Lab and on to the Art room without the slightest stumble. The first couple of weeks can be difficult though.
Following is some information on how we help students make a successful transition to Secondary School. Information has been taken from our booklet, "Changes - Making the transition from Primary to Secondary School" which can be downloaded here as well.
How can you feel confident that both you and your child are well-prepared?
- Keep up the dialogue between you and your child and be honest about both the positive and negative aspects of transition.
- Support this stage of growing independence in their lives by identifying ways your child can have greater independence at home.
- Spend a little time remembering back to your own move to secondary school and talk to them about it – your child may have a very different experience to you but it will help you to be empathetic and understanding.
- Drive or walk past the school whenever you can, or visit for an event.
- Support your child to get involved in local activities or clubs where they will come across other children who already go to the school.
- Encourage your child to get involved in clubs and activities in their new school.
- Suggest time management techniques to your child or help them set up a study area.
- Make an appointment to talk to our school's Head of Secondary or Head of Year 7.
Constant routine becomes constant change
The biggest change when entering the secondary school system is probably the constant change in the day-to-day routine. In primary school, they had one teacher all day in the one classroom. In secondary school however, that routine completely changes. There is a subject change approximately every hour, and with this subject change there is a change of teacher. It is not unusual for a student to encounter eight or nine different teachers during a typical school day. A tip to help your child cope with this is to advise them to write down the name of each new teacher beside the name of the subject.
Some subject changes will involve a change of classroom, so the second big challenge that the new Year 7 students must cope with is the movement between classrooms throughout the day. Depending on their subject choices, students will be moving all around the school. Getting lost during the first few weeks will be inevitable for some. A good tip is to advise your child to always stay with at least one other person from the class... there is definitely safety and confidence in numbers!
All of this ‘new-ness’ is bound to have some effect on the students. In these early days of adjusting, parents should try to be supportive, understanding and encouraging, ensuring their child eats well and gets plenty of rest and ‘down time’.
Another big adjustment is the number of specific subjects your child is studying. In Year 7, our students can cover anything up to 15 different subjects:
||Design & Technology (DT)
||Modern Foreign Languages (French, Spanish or German)
|Physical Education (PE)
||Information Computer Technology (ICT)
||Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE)
As you can see, from Year 7 our students study a diversity range of subjects. It is therefore important to help them to develop a methodical approach to learning at an early stage. Discuss all the subjects at home. Asking your child to explain what they have learnt so far in a particular subject will have two beneficial effects; it will help you to better understand a subject and it also helps your child to summarise a subject - an exercise which helps to highlight in their mind where they are with it.
It is important to try to encourage a balance between all subjects. Everyone will have their favourites and will excel at certain subjects. Problems occur when a subject is neglected in the early stages. This may happen because of perceived difficulty of the subject or maybe a personality clash with a teacher and it may have an impact on subject choices in future years.
Homework, Communication and Extra-curricular Activities
Homework time is obviously going to increase and with it comes several new adjustments from the primary school homework routine. In Year 7, students receive homework in up to 3 subjects per night. One of the best skills you can help your child to learn is that of effective time management. Help your child to even out their homework pattern by encouraging them to develop a homework timetable. Help them to devise a method to spread out the workload over the 5 nights of the week. Do not under-estimate the importance of getting a structure and a sense of organisation at an early stage of their secondary school lives. Learning how to successfully manage their time is an invaluable life skill and will make the transition into their new environment a whole lot easier.
As in the primary school, you will receive regular updates from your child’s form tutor. Aside from the school reports, you will receive a daily email, detailing the classes your child has taken and any homework requirements for that day. Your child will also have a planner to record homework; this will need to be signed by you on a weekly basis.
After school activities and lunchtime activities
Taking part in after school activities (ASAs) is a great way of getting to know more students in the School. Whether it is in the school play, the computer club or on the playing field, each student should find activities which they enjoy. Taking part in such activities builds confidence; they get to mix with other students from other years, and as a result, they settle into the school environment a lot quicker. Students should be encouraged, from both home and school, to try out new activities. Even if they do not know what the activity