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Secondary school is another huge milestone and change in our children’s lives. It is a scary prospect for them. After all, they have just spent the best part of 7 years in the same school with the same group of friends and classmates. Secondary school is usually a setting on a much larger scale. Instead of one or two classes per year, you may have several, and it can be overwhelming and daunting to go from classroom to classroom rather than stay in the same place.
It is, however, an exciting chapter for your child and there are things that you can do to prepare them. So here are some of the ways that you can prepare your child for the first year of secondary school.
Preparing for your child’s first year at secondary school
Talk about the changes
One of the first things that you can do is talk about the changes. This is where you may help them to understand the challenges they may face, the differences in the school day and how they can adapt. Ask your child if they are worried, have concerns, or even the things they are looking forward to, or perhaps are not looking forward to. Do this in plenty of time so you have a chance to address these things appropriately and provide comfort for your child.
Visit the school where possible
In the year leading up to the change of school the secondary school will likely have open evenings or days or give your child a chance to visit. Make sure you take this opportunity as the more familiar your child can be, the more comfortable and excited they will be on their first day.
Expect some fatigue
In the lead-up to starting secondary school and those first few weeks, you may notice your child is more tired than usual. This is completely normal. Make sure you encourage them to rest. They may be tired leading up to starting because they are anxious and worried. Once they get there, the new school day will be more demanding than what they have been used to in the past.
Another thing you might want to do is encourage independence. It could be that your child is walking to secondary school or getting a bus. Or perhaps might need to let themselves in after school. Give your child the chance to practice these things before they start. This means they will be familiar with what they need to do and it is one less thing for them to worry about.
Get bags and uniform prepared in advance
Try and not leave things to the last minute when it comes to your child’s unfirm and the things they need for secondary school like books, stationery and bags. The more prepared they are, the more confident they will feel leading up to the first day.
Familiarise yourself with the school website
Take time to familiarise yourself with the school website and encourage your child to do the same. There is a wealth of information on there and could help them to feel more at ease when they start. It may even have pictures of teachers so that they can recognise faces when they start.
Communicate openly about school nerves
There will likely be school nerves for the first few days, so openly talk about it. Ask how your child is feeling and give them a chance to express their thoughts. The more you talk, the more opportunity you will have to put their mind at ease ahead of starting.
Talk about your own experiences
A great way to start a conversation about school, especially if your child isn’t so open about their feelings, is to talk about your own experiences of secondary school. Try and think back to your first day or even share some experiences and memories that you have at school. This could help build up the excitement for secondary school and the big change ahead.
Do a bit of school work in the holidays
Your child might be worried about the workload or you may have concerns that they are not ready for secondary school. So use the summer holidays to help you better prepare your child. It doesn’t need to be too much work, but websites like Twinkl have great resources that are age appropriate that could help to give your child a confidence boost.
Help them be open-minded to making new friends
Finally, secondary school means that there will be opportunities to make new friends. Your child might not be heading to the same schools as their current group of friends, or because of how big secondary school is, there could be separations of classmates. Make sure they understand that making friends is a good thing and that it can be an exciting prospect to meet new people.
I hope that these tips help you to prepare your child for the first year of secondary school.
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