Moving to secondary school or changing school can be difficult for anyone. Children worry about making new friends, about getting lost, about doing the wrong thing, about being with a new teacher and not ‘fitting in’. They worry about the amount and type of the homework or that they will get in trouble if they do the wrong thing.
Your child, and you, are not alone. Many, many students make transition between schools every year. Some will manage without a hurdle. Others will experience some degree of difficulty, and the resources and strategies given here should help them through the difficult moments.
To help smooth the transition we have put together our top tips on helping your child prepare for starting secondary school, switching to a new school or even moving up to the next year group.
- Getting prepared by making sure that your child has all the right uniform, resources and equipment.
- Build your child’s confidence; positive self-esteem is key in helping your child settle in well. It is about appreciating themselves and who they are. They are less likely to be bullied or bully. From having self-belief, they will be able to cope with possible school challenges, develop their social skills and being assertive would make them less worried and happy at school. So, tell them how good they are, let them learn new things, catch them doing something positive and praise them. Do this every day and watch their confidence develop.
- Listen to their worries and fears, let your children know you care; your child is probably anxious about starting school in a different environment. For instance, if they found it difficult to make new friends, know their way to the classrooms, what they should do? They could speak to you as parents or reach out to their form tutor, head of year, school counsellor or any teacher. Do this for every/any concern they so they feel that you are listening and taking it seriously.
- Try not telling them not to worry; this might make them become reluctant to tell you what they really feel. If you don’t find them able to talk, turning things to themselves, then let them write things down or paint.
- You can be worried too as a parent, but it needs to be balanced as our anxiety creates more anxiety in them.
- Help them learn and get organised; transitions bring with it changes on how your child is going to approach their education. They will have to be more organised as they are attending timetabled classes, manage the amount of homework they get. It can be challenging however – part of moving to secondary school is to make them more independent and self-resilient.
- Encourage your children to take part in school activities that are fun and enjoyable; it would help them feel connected, enhance their social skills and make friends.
If after a few weeks you feel that you child is not feeling settled and is not able to cope with new school challenges, it is highly recommended that you to speak with the form tutor/class teacher or the school counsellors about how best to support your child.
BIS Abu Dhabi Counselling Team