Why moving from primary to secondary school is a big deal for children

The end of every August brings that dreaded “back to school” feeling. School books are bought, and children are measured for uniforms they have outgrown during the summer.

And while this is an exciting time for many (and perhaps a bit of relief for parents not having to entertain their little ones all day long), for some it can be quite stressful. 

Children who are moving from primary to secondary school suddenly find themselves no longer the “big fish” 6th class students, but instead the “little” 1st year students. 

This can bring with it a sense of uncertainty, especially when rumours and stories are told of first year initiations. Most settle in very well and respond positively to new challenges but for some, student life can be difficult. 

In a new school with new faces and different rules, children have to adapt, and their levels of vulnerability can become obvious.

New social circles are developed, friendships are made, and confidence is built when new achievements are attained. But certain students are not as confident as their peers or as chatty.

Some might find it difficult to make friends or to socialise easily. Others might be worried by the levels of expectations put on them by the school or even their family. 

All these things (and the list is not exhaustive) can lead to the transition from primary to secondary school being an unpleasurable and anxiety-provoking experience. 

Parents can play a very important role in developing their child’s confidence by:

  • Give Them Their Own Journal/Diary/Copy Book or even Post-it-Notes – this would be separate from school work and would instead be used for them to take notes of things that are said in their first weeks that they may have questions about, need to remember or things they are worried about. You can schedule a time to go through it either at the end of the day or end f the week to talk about it. This is a great time to problem solve with your child or reassure them.
  • Offering positive levels of support to ensure their child’s transition from primary to secondary school runs as smoothly as possible. 
  • Listening to their children’s worries and concerns and not dismissing them as simply being a part of growing up. When a child sees that they are being listened to they will be far more likely to explain what is on their mind and, most importantly, start developing options and answers for themselves in the knowledge that they have your support.
  • Establishing a good relationship with your child’s school – keeping an open dialogue with the Principal and teachers can help to ensure you are kept in the loop as to how your child is developing. Remember, schools are there not only to educate your children but to give them an opportunity to develop into positive and productive adults.

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