Moving up from primary to secondary school is quite a big thing. It’s not just the new school building and the different journey to school, it’s all the new faces – and the absence of familiar ones. And everything – from handling the lunch canteen to the hulking sixth-form students – seems bigger, compared to primary school!
This is an exciting but challenging time for your child as they are no longer the big fish in the small primary school pond and however excited they are at all the great stuff that lies ahead, they’re bound to be feeling a few first-week nervous flutters, too.
So, what can you do as a parent to help ease the transition from primary to senior school – especially if you’re feeling a bit daunted yourself?
Here are 10 common worries parents have when their children start secondary school, along with some suggestions on how to address them:
Focus on the positive
Stay cheerful and optimistic (however you’re feeling inside). Acknowledge any anxiety your child is feeling but point out how feeling anxious is totally natural – everyone will be feeling this way – and that, before they know it, their new school and its new routines will feel completely familiar. Remind them that, after growing out of primary school, they’re ready for the new challenges and wonderful opportunities in secondary school.
New journeys may feel nerve wracking at first. Tracking apps can provide parents with a sense of security and give everyone peace of mind by allowing them to monitor their child’s location in real-time, especially in emergency situations. The Life360 app is designed to help families stay connected and safe. It can be used to track loved ones, receive notifications if they need help, and even find them if they get lost. Great for when they start in secondary school.
Parents often worry about increased academic demands so encourage open communication around the new assignments and help when needed around the new expectations while also promoting a healthy work-life balance around working hard, doing their best and relaxing.
Making New Friends:
Address concerns about making new friends by discussing the importance of building strong relationships, joining clubs, and participating in school activities. Teach them that a simple smile can open up a new friendship easily.
Talk to your child about bullying, in all its forms, and encourage them to speak up if they experience or witness it. Stay engaged with their school life to monitor any signs – one simple way is to eat regularly together so you can stay on top of any changes in their behaviour.
Help your child gradually develop independence by allowing them to make decisions and solve problems for themselves. Offer guidance and help them become independent incrementally without micromanaging them.
Teach your child organisational skills, such as creating schedules, using calendars, and prioritising tasks. This will help them handle their academic work with their extracurricular activities.
Discuss effective study habits and help your child set up a quiet and organised workspace. Encourage breaks and offer support when needed. Just don’t nag!
Educate your child about making their own choices and standing up for what they believe in. Build their self-confidence to resist negative influences. ‘Talk and Teach’ them how to become their own person.
Set clear rules for screen time and social media use. Discuss online safety, including privacy settings and responsible online behaviour. Talk together about setting boundaries that create a healthy lifestyle balance.
Emphasise the importance of a balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep. Encourage them to participate in sports or physical activities they enjoy.
Keep the lines of communication open by having regular check-ins about their school experiences, challenges, and achievements. Create a safe space for them to express their feelings and remember you have one mouth and two ears for a reason …. to listen more than you speak!
Remember, each child is unique, so tailor your approach to your child’s personality and needs. Reassure them that you’re there to support and guide them through this new phase and things will soon settle down into a new exciting time.
Download my complete and comprehensive guide ‘Making the Big Leap to Secondary School Successfully‘ £19.99