Mak­ing the tran­si­tion to sec­ondary school

GO­ING FROM PRI­MARY TO HIGH

QT Magazine - - HEALTHY, WEALTHY AND WISE - HEALTH & FITNESS - ED­U­CA­TION AD­VICE WITH DOUG BRAIDEN, HEAD OF MID­DLE SCHOOL, WEST MORETON ANGLI­CAN COL­LEGE

MOV­ING your child from pri­mary school to sec­ondary school can be ex­cit­ing or it can be filled with ner­vous­ness and trep­i­da­tion.

The key to mak­ing a smooth move, is lis­ten­ing to the stu­dents and elim­i­nat­ing their fears one by one, be­cause in the mind of a Year 7 stu­dent, sec­ondary school can be a daunt­ing prospect.

As ed­u­ca­tors, it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand their feel­ings about go­ing to ‘high’ school, and working with them to make sure the move is a smooth and fun one, for them and their par­ents.

Each stu­dent will come through the tran­si­tion in their own time, be it days, weeks or months. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, it takes about a term for new stu­dents, at any year level, to truly set­tle in.

If there was piece of ad­vice I’d give to par­ents who have young peo­ple feel­ing anx­ious about the change, it is to lis­ten. We reg­u­larly work closely with stu­dents in classes to un­der­stand the things that they may be con­cerned about, to take away their fears, so that they go home ex­cited about re­turn­ing to school the next day.

One of the big­gest chal­lenges is friend­ships. Stu­dents don’t feel a sense of be­long­ing un­til they’re part of a friend­ship group. Pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships are as im­por­tant as learn­ing new sub­jects, where things are, and how their school works.

An­other sig­nif­i­cant change is go­ing from a sin­gle teacher en­vi­ron­ment to hav­ing a teacher for each sub­ject. To help re­solve these fears, we have in­tro­duced our own ver­sion of The Amaz­ing Race. In­com­ing Year 7 stu­dents are in­vited to the school for a day and we give them clues and a map, al­low­ing them to ex­plore the cam­pus, meet their teach­ers, all while hav­ing fun at the same time. This ac­tiv­ity appeals to their sense of ex­plo­ration, and over­com­ing their own fears of a new school.

Buddy pro­grams are also a great idea. Stu­dents in Year 7 are of­ten teamed up with a part­ner in Year 8 or 9 who shows them around the school, and is a lis­ten­ing post for any ques­tions. The ben­e­fit is two-fold.

It gives the older stu­dent some re­spon­si­bil­ity in the knowl­edge they are be­ing re­lied upon by some­one younger, and for the Year 7 stu­dent, it gives them an older friend they can look up to and go to for help, if needed.

Then of course, there’s Year 7 camp. Noth­ing bonds stu­dent group more than go­ing away and hav­ing a few days of fun, working and liv­ing to­gether in a camp en­vi­ron­ment.

These are the ex­pe­ri­ences that will be the start of friend­ships that last a life­time.

Mov­ing from pri­mary to sec­ondary school can be daunt­ing, but with the right man­age­ment from the school and a bit of ex­tra TLC from mum and dad, it can be a fun ex­pe­ri­ence, and one that they will re­mem­ber for the rest of their school days.

PHOTO: DGLIMAGES

SMART MOVE: Mak­ing the move to high school, when han­dled with care, can be done well.

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