Moving to secondary school can be a daunting experience for both children and parents.
We all find change hard to deal with; what is new and different can often cause anxiety for little ones. We spoke to Patricia Gordon, Principal, Stratford College about how best to get your child ready, both emotionally and practically for the big move.
It’s a good idea to start the process now in this last term of primary school, so here’s eight tips to help them on on their way...
1. Change is part of life – use the move to secondary school as an opportunity to have a wider chat about change with your child and how you can turn anxiety into excitement. For example, the new school might offer different sports from their previous or musical / drama activity; more school trips; better computers etc. Emphasise how the new can be positive.
2. Make sure you and your child attend any Open Day or tour on offer from the new school. Many schools offer this in the summer term. Knowing the geography of a campus or building in advance is really helpful
3. Check if the school has a buddy or mentoring system for first years. Most do and letting your child know that they will have an older student to help them find their way in those first few days can reduce anxiety and the fear of the unknown
4. Ask the school if you can speak with another parent or a member of the Parents Association. They will give you practical advice and real insight into the school. Getting involved with the school, even in a small way, will help you and your child feel part of a wider community
5. Practice getting organised; having to check timetables and organise your books can be one of the biggest changes. Ask for a sample timetable from the school and help your child follow it to get a sense of what a schedule is like
6. If you haven’t already, encourage independence and taking responsibility. If they have sports activity to go to this summer term, encourage them to organise their own kit; pack their lunchbox; tidy their room etc. Set deadlines and then check how they get on.
7. For many children, moving to secondary school means a longer or more complicated journey, sometimes with an older sibling rather than a parent accompanying them. Make sure you talk about the new journey. Try rehearsals to make sure your child is confident. Talk about what they should do if things go wrong – what if the LUAS is cancelled or the bus breaks downs?
8. Finally, make time to listen and talk with your son or daughter. Their feelings of insecurity are very real. Remind them that everyone changing school is in the same boat!
Stratford College Dublin is a co-educational, fee-paying secondary school. For more information click here.