Small steps help school tran­si­tion

North Waikato News - - Term 1 2015 -

Say­ing goodbye to those pri­mary school years can be hard.

We of­ten know the staff well and feel com­fort­able go­ing in to talk to teach­ers to sort things out.

We’ve been to sports days, con­certs, helped out in classes, on school trips and vol­un­teered at sausage siz­zles. We are part of the school com­mu­nity – and now our older child is mov­ing on to an in­ter­me­di­ate/sec­ondary school we know lit­tle about.

Do par­ents need to keep up with what’s hap­pen­ing as our chil­dren grow into young adults?

Do we en­cour­age them to grow into self-re­liant, in­de­pen­dent teenagers if we step back and leave them to nav­i­gate the com­plex world of sec­ondary school on their own?

Th­ese are the ques­tions we par­ents tussle with. While we do need to re­mem­ber this is their big ad­ven­ture and much of our role will in­volve ‘‘cheer­ing from the side­lines,’’ in­for­ma­tion is em­pow­er­ing.

Find­ing out how the sys­tem works al­lows you to con­fi­dently use, and support your child to use, the many ser­vices in place that of­fer help and support.

When par­ents and schools work to­gether our teenagers have the best pos­si­ble op­por­tu­nity to suc­ceed. Schools can’t do it on their own – work­ing to­gether ev­ery­one has a much bet­ter chance of cop­ing with all those chal­lenges and choices ahead.

If you have any con­cerns about your child it is a good idea to let the year 9 Dean know. It is bet­ter for the new school to be fully aware your child’s spe­cific needs.

Al­ways ring for an ap­point­ment first. Schools are very busy places and you want the op­por­tu­nity to talk with peo­ple who are in a po­si­tion to fo­cus on what you are say­ing.

If your child is gen­uinely un­happy with their teacher and it is af­fect­ing their be­hav­iour and school re­sults, then make con­tact with the school for an ap­point­ment with the head of depart­ment or the year level dean.

If you out­line what you want to dis­cuss, then the dean can in­clude other support staff if ap­pro­pri­ate. If your child has spe­cific learn­ing needs the HOD of Learn­ing Support may be part of your meet­ing.

If your child is hav­ing dif­fi­culty with anx­i­ety, a par­tic­u­lar child etc. the school coun­sel­lor may well be asked to the meet­ing. Th­ese peo­ple can be hugely valu­able in help­ing your child set­tle hap­pily into a new school.

They are a great link to the class­room teach­ers too and will work closely with them to help your child.

Re­mem­ber that sec­ondary school teach­ers are peo­ple too and that gen­er­ally they are an empathetic group who are keen to make a dif­fer­ence.

Any dis­cus­sions around your child are not about win­ning or los­ing. It doesn’t mat­ter who comes out on top or who has the dom­i­nant voice.

It is so im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that meet­ings with teach­ers are about find­ing a so­lu­tion ev­ery­one can live with and one that ben­e­fits your child.

If you hav­ing chal­lenges in your fam­ily life – ill­ness, court cases, di­vorce, fi­nan­cial strain etc. it is a good idea to ad­vise a school coun­sel­lor.

They can keep an eye on any im­pact this may be hav­ing on your child at school and put you in touch with any of the spe­cial­ist ser­vices or pro­grammes avail­able. They are able to talk con­fi­den­tially with you. Some­times they will ask staff to min­imise home­work or of­fer TLC to a par­tic­u­lar stu­dent but they will not al­ways say why.

Prepa­ra­tion is a great way of giv­ing your child the best pos­si­ble chance of a great start in a new school.

Handy hints for pre­par­ing your child for sec­ondary school

❚ Talk about the new school in a pos­i­tive way – go for a walk around it and just fa­mil­iarise your child with this new en­vi­ron­ment. ❚ Do you know any older stu­dents that might be a good role model for your child? In­vite them over for a re­laxed chat about what sort of things your child can ex­pect in those first few weeks and an­swer any ques­tions you have. They might prove to be a help­ful men­tor for your child too. ❚ Smooth out any travel anx­i­eties ahead of time – go over which bus they will take, streets they will walk in ad­vance. Can you or­gan­ise a friend to go with them? ❚ Prac­tice rou­tines in your fam­ily life that will make it eas­ier for your child to do home­work e.g. a reg­u­lar meal time and a reg­u­lar home­work slot Mon­day – Thurs­day. ❚ Make sure your child has the cor­rect shoes and uni­form. A pos­i­tive im­pres­sion is a great way to start in a new place. ❚ Most schools have very spe­cific guide­lines on hair styles/ colour, jew­ellery, pierc­ings, tat­too’s and cell phone use. Find out what they are and make sure your child knows too. ❚ Find out the dean’s name – talk to your child about what their role is in school. ❚ Go on­line and find out some of the sports/ clubs that may be avail­able.

The most im­por­tant thing is to keep talk­ing – keep those lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open.

Re­ally lis­ten to what your son or daugh­ter tells you – try to stay calm in front of them. I of­ten hear stu­dents say ‘‘I can’t tell mum / dad – it will re­ally up­set them and I can’t deal with that too!’’

Sec­ondary schools have so many op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able to stu­dents. Many of which you may not be aware of.

So keep an eye on the no­tices, read the on­line in­for­ma­tion and stay in­volved.

Prac­tice rou­tines in your fam­ily life that will make it eas­ier for your child to do home­work e.g. a reg­u­lar meal time and a reg­u­lar home­work slot Mon­day to Thurs­day.

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