The Transition To Secondary School
What will be different?
- Larger, new environment.
- New transportation route (to/from school).
- New timetable with several different teachers, classrooms and lessons each day.
- New rules, policies and consequences.
- New routines for break times and lunches.
- New school uniform.
- More/increasingly challenging homework .
- New friends and social groups.
- New schedule after school (clubs, sports, etc.).
- More opportunities for activities and sports.
- Higher expectations for personal responsibility.
- Increased emphasis on effort in school.
About adolescence in general:
- Many physical, social and emotional changes that occur with adolescence.
- Changing hormones.
- Possible moodiness.
- Increasing peer influence.
- Increasing sense of independence from parents/carers.
- Possible anxiety about new expectations, academic pressures and social group challenges.
- Further establishing identity: Who am I? What do I believe? What is important to me?
How might the transition affect your child?
The transition from primary to secondary school may bring out many different emotions and feelings for students, and communicating with your child about his feelings is quite important.
My Feelings (Click To Expand)
- I can’t wait!
- Secondary school will be brilliant!
- I’m feeling ready.
- I know I can do this.
- Will I be able to handle it?
- What will my new school be like?
- What if my new teachers are strict?
- What if nobody likes me?
- Going to secondary school is no big deal.
- Nothing is going to change.
- I can’t do this.
- This is too hard.
- Why can’t everything just stay the same?
- I hate this.
- I don’t want to leave my friends.
- It just won’t be the same.
When we ignore change:
Anxieties may increase and students may feel out of control and overwhelmed.
Students may begin to:
- Mess about in class.
- Forget or neglect homework.
- Have difficulty concentrating.
- Develop physical complaints – headaches, stomach aches.
- Act moody and irritable.
- Show changes in appetite or sleeping patterns.
- Seem distant.
- Refuse going to school.
When we pay attention to and address change:
Students may begin to:
- Feel more in control of the situation.
- Develop better routines and structure.
- Have an easier time adjusting to the new environment.
- Develop trust in adults’ ability to help.
- Develop confidence in their ability to succeed.
12 Helpful tips for parents/carers.
1. Be enthusiastic about the transition to high school.
It is important that you are enthusiastic and demonstrate confidence in your child and his ability to succeed in secondary school. Even if your child is not attending his ‘first choice’ of secondary schools, it is important that you are supportive and maintain a positive attitude. Your attitude about the school can greatly impact your child’s attitude towards starting school, his desire to become involved in activities, and his motivation to succeed in lessons.
2. Learn about school routines and expectations.
Take the time to learn about the new schedule, your student’s timetable and the school’s expectations of your child. The rules and expectations in secondary school are often quite different than those in primary school and it is important that both you and your child be familiar with these changes. Your involvement and support is extremely important to both your child and the school staff.
3. Decide with your child how he will be travelling to school, and make necessary arrangements.
Make sure to apply for transportation passes if necessary. Discuss with your child how he will be travelling to school and what to do if there is a problem (i.e. the train is late). Practise this new route at least once.
4. Be open with your child about new changes.
Provide opportunities for your child to discuss his feelings about the transition, other issues and sensitive subjects that may arise. Continue these types of open discussions throughout secondary school. Emphasise that your child is not alone and that there is plenty of support throughout secondary school.
5. Help organise your child’s uniform before the first day of school.
Make sure you and your child understand the school’s uniform policy and the consequences for wearing the uniform incorrectly. Support your child in purchasing the necessary items and help your child clean and take care of the uniform throughout the year.
6. Help your child to establish good routines.
It is extremely important that your child learns to be organised. You can use the worksheets included in this booklet to help you and your child get started! A few ideas;
Set a routine for the mornings and after school.
Set an alarm.
Review assigned homework and any other notes in your child’s diary each day after school.
Make sure he has packed his school bag in the evening (equipment, completed homework, P.E. kit etc.).
Set out/organise school uniform in the evening.
7. Recognise the importance of regular attendance.
Your child will not be able to learn and succeed if he does not attend school on a regular basis. You and your child have a shared responsibility in making sure that your child attends school every day. Make sure you understand the school’s absence policy as well. Be aware of the educational, social and legal consequences of poor attendance.
8. Help your child develop good study habits.
Make sure there is a quiet place at home for your child to study and do homework (preferably with a table and chair, not on the couch or on the child’s bed). If there is not a quiet place, encourage your child to join a homework club after school. Check your child’s diary on a daily basis. Your child will be required to record his homework assignments in his diary every day and as a parent/carer, you will be asked to check-in on your child’s homework habits.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
The transition to secondary school and adolescence in general can be challenging at times. Even if you’ve been through this transition before with an older child, remember that all children are different, even siblings. Get to know the staff at school and ask for help if you or your child need it!
10. Try to separate your feelings about the transition from your child’s feelings.
As a parent/carer, it is easy to assume that your child shares the same concerns, worries and thoughts about secondary school as you do. However, this is not always the case. Your child’s experiences in secondary school may be quite different than the experiences you had as an adolescent. It is important that you pay attention to how you are feeling, while also respecting your child’s own experience.
11. Encourage and support your child’s developing sense of independence, while also remaining involved and aware of what is going on at school.
As your child approaches adolescence, he will be seeking more independence. It is important that you recognise this as a normal part of becoming a teenager and that you support your child appropriately. However, it is also important that you remain involved – attend parent/teacher meetings, communicate with your child’s tutor, be aware of your child’s progress in school and involvement in various activities.
12. Discuss emergency and other safety issues.
Make sure that your child has accurate contact information for family members, that you’ve discussed relevant safety and emergency issues (transportation routes, carrying valuables, etc.).
Keeping your child motivated
- Give your child a lot of praise! It is much easier to focus on the mistakes and sometimes we overlook the positive steps.
- Have daily targets/goals that lead to a weekly reward. Create a list of realistic rewards with your child, and be consistent. If your child follows through with the agreed-upon targets, you must follow through as well.
- Encourage your child to become involved in school clubs, sports, and activities. Secondary school is an important time to develop hobbies and interests, and this will help your child deal with academic and other stress.
- Take an interest in your child’s progress in school. Communicate with your child’s Tutor on a regular basis – they are an excellent source of information!
- Help your child focus on his strengths.
- Preparing for the journey to school.
- Setting the morning routine.
- Setting the afternoon/evening routine.
- Notes page for important information.
- Parent/carer and student ‘To Do Lists’.
- Pocket sized routine: for your pocket!
Journey To And From School (Click To Expand)
- How long will it take to walk from home to school?
- Do I know the safest & quickest route?
- Can a friend/family member walk to school with me?
- Which bus number will I take (and which direction)?
- Where is the bus stop?
- Do I have a bus pass?
- From home, how long does it take me to get to the bus stop?
- How often does the bus come?
- How long is the bus journey?
- Which tube line will I take (and which direction)?
- Where is the tube station?
- Do I have a tube pass?
- From home, how long does it take me to get to the tube station?
- How often does the tube come?
- How long is the tube journey?
- Which train will I take (and which direction)?
- Where is the train station?
- Do I have a train pass?
- From home, how long does it take me to get to the train station?
- What time does the train come?
- How long is the train journey?
- Will someone be driving me?
- How long does the car journey take (remember traffic!)?
- Where can I store my bike at school?
- Do I need a bike lock and a helmet?
- How long does the bike ride take?
Based on the information above, what time do I need to leave home in the morning?
Will I be taking the same route on my way home as well?
Please View/Download our Morning Routine document here: Download