Moving up to Big School
As children move from being the oldest and biggest in the school to being the youngest and smallest in often a much larger environment, there are plenty of reasons why some children may be feeling worried!
What are the things children worry most about?
- Making new friends
- Getting bullied
- Getting lost
- School rules and expectations
- Being the smallest and youngest in a large environment filled with older and bigger children
- Whether or not their new teachers will like them or be nice to them.
- Coping with a timetable of lessons
- Having different teachers for different subjects
- Coping with greater academic expectations
- Increased levels of homework
What helps to make a successful transition?
- Moving with most of their primary school friends and successfully making new friends
- Your child feels that people have addressed their worries and have been reassuring and encouraging
- They are positive and looking forward to going to secondary school
- Having a high level of familiarity with the school before going, through visits and open days
- Plenty of help to settle in, both from the primary school and the secondary school, so they know what to expect and how it all works
- Friendly older children at the school
- Having an older sibling at the school they are going to
- Finding their new school work interesting
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 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, perhaps go into the grounds if possible
- Support your child to get involved in local activities or clubs where they will come across other children who already go to the school
- Support your child to get involved in clubs and activities at the new school
- Suggest time management techniques to your child or help them set up a study area
What can you do if your child experiences any difficulties or problems?
If you think your child is overly anxious about going to secondary school, or they are not settling well then it is important to tackle the situation as quickly as possible. The main reasons why children don’t settle at secondary school are because they have not been able to make new friends or because they are being bullied.
Talk to your child and try to find out what the problem is. Often it is better not to ask directly but to make opportunities where they feel comfortable to open up about what is going on for them, perhaps during a family meal or whilst doing some kind of activity together. If they won’t, or don’t feel able to talk to you, then arrange to talk to their primary school teacher, or if they are already at secondary school, arrange to talk to their form tutor or head of year.