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                                       Preparing Your Child For Secondary School

First-day nerves

Remember your first day at secondary school? Did you feel a bit lost amongst all those teenagers in the playground and daunted by how big your new school seemed? Then there were all those new subjects to get your head round, the fact that you now have lots of different teachers and, of course, new school mates to try and make friends with ...

When it is your child's turn to start secondary school, it helps to step back in time and remember all those emotions you felt as you stood in your new school uniform and prepared to make the leap into the great unknown.

Helping soothe the butterflies

Listen to your child's worries and have a think about what you can do to help.

Perhaps they're worried about the new bus journey or the walk to school? If so, maybe a few runs in the car to familiarise them with the route will help. Or it might be that they're nervous about making friends, so you should be sure to remind them that everyone will be in the same boat. In many cases, they will be joining the school alongside friends from primary so reassure them there will be some familiar faces.

Whatever fears your child may have, they are all equally valid, so try not to dismiss them.

Also, if you didn't have a very positive experience at school, try not to let that influence your child.

Getting used to the big change - the early weeks

In the early days of starting at secondary, give your child a bit of leeway - they're going to need a bit of getting used to their new routine, following a timetable and all the new faces. It will take a few weeks for them to start feeling confident and relaxed.

Expect quite a bit of tiredness at the end of the day, so cut them some slack at weekends and let things shift down a gear at home to accommodate the new weekday routine.

Be there at the end of the day with plenty of healthy snacks and a listening ear when they need to talk, and try to make sure they get enough sleep to cope with their busy days ahead.

Homework - getting used to the extra load

With secondary school comes a new heap of homework. And with so many different teachers and subjects, if your child isn't organised it can all pile up.

It pays to get into a routine around homework sooner rather than later.

Some schools give pupils homework planners so they can write down all their tasks and when they need to be handed in. If they don't get one, buy them a jotter so they can keep a record of what they need to do for when.

If they end up leaving it all to the last minute and having to cram it all in the night before (flashbacks to our own secondary school days!), it can be really stressful. Encourage them to follow their planner and avoid those late-night cramming sessions.

Kitted out for the first day

Your child's school will probably have given you a list of all the things your child will need for starting school. If not - you can find out loads on the school's website and by talking to other mums. There's the uniform and gym kit but also they might need a few extras such as:

  • Calculator (many secondaries require pupils to have a scientific calculator).
  • Pencil case and plenty of pens, pencils, rubber, ruler, pencil sharpener, etc.
  • Geometry/maths set.
  • A rucksack/bag that is big enough for all their jotters and textbooks, but one which they can carry easily as they will have to lug it round with them all day.
  • English & French dictionary (or other language dictionary as necessary).

Your child will be told in the first weeks how to go about getting a locker and the routines and payments for school lunches.

By Tamara Ward 

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