Do you remember changing schools? Perhaps for you that happened because you relocated and changed at an irregular time in the academic journey, or perhaps your memory of change was from one teacher to the next.
For many, the biggest change they will experience in their academic lives is the move from primary and secondary school.
For the vast majority the move will be acceptable and reasonably smooth. However for some, the transition will be extremely daunting. It’s not just the change, it’s what the change entails.
Children moving from primary to secondary are usually moving from the position of being the oldest and biggest, in a school where they have resided for probably a great majority longer than many of the teachers who work there; to becoming the youngest and smallest, in a school which is far larger, with many more teachers and quite likely a good shake up in their friendship groups too.
To give you an idea of the degree of stress this causes, imagine starting a new job, where you have to undergo exams a few years in that everyone is telling you are the most important things you will do in your life. It’s quite a lot of pressure.
Add to that the increase in volume, in personalities to manage, in learning where everything is and in strictness. Oh and home work on top of that of course.
Young people need to be prepared for this experience, well in advance of it happening. And a couple of visits to the new school will likely not be enough.
Here are some other considerations that you might want to talk over with your children/pupils ahead of them switching schools:
• Do they know where to go to if they feel unwell?
• Can they manage their school bag or do they need a locker? School bags with multiple text books can get really heavy!
• Do they know the names of the teachers? Or at the very least their form tutor?
• Do they know what the different bell rings mean?
• Have they got all of the resources that they need for the various different lessons?
• Is your child well organised – can they stick to a timetable and take responsibility for getting their homework in on time or are they going to need to support with that?
• Do they know strategies that will help them to form new friendships and relationships?
Overall, one of the most crucial things to put in place once the transition has taken place, is an opportunity for the child to voice how the transition is going for them. This need not be formal, but it’s important that they are quizzed about their experience so far. Is it what they were expecting? What has been easier than expected or more difficult?
In identifying the challenges or discomforts they may be feeling, you then have an opportunity to talk through some potential solutions.
Helping your child consider solutions to the more challenging elements of the transition, might save you both a lot of built up anxiety later on.
By Gemma Bailey www.NLP4Kids.org/gemma-bailey