Stand back and let them soar
with the politics department contribute to the mix.
EXTRA CHANCES TO SHINE
Stagecoach, which teaches singing, dance and drama across the country, says its workshops develop skills in teamwork, speaking with confidence, listening, creativity, positivity and respect for others. “Our students become more self-assured, expressive, sociable and imaginative and they learn how to tackle situations with resilience, creativity and courage.”
Premier Chess Coaching, run by UK national master Tomer Eden, provides chess lessons for children and adults in schools and clubs throughout London, as well as on a private basis. Chess, says the company, gives children experience of solving complicated problems, improves maths skills and teaches patience and strategising, in a world where many other things are available to them in an instant.
All forms of dance are enjoyable and offer healthy exercise. Ballet encourages dedication, precision, strength and balance. If your child would like to take up ballet as a career, it is almost essential to start young.
Learning a musical instrument fosters discipline through regular practice and this can be applied to other areas of education, such as homework. Even if your child is not an able player, an appreciation of music will give them a lifetime’s pleasure. Singing in a choir has enjoyable social spin-offs at any age.
Hebrew literacy is the pathway to so many things. In school, it equips children with a fearless grasp of languages with unfamiliar alphabets, as well as general linguistic understanding. Throughout life, it can be a bridge to meaningful prayer and a route to greater appreciation of both Jewish and Israeli culture. And it is useful on holiday, of course.
If you do not learn modern or classical Hebrew at school, you can study it at a club such as the London Hebrew Gymnasium.
ONE MINUTE you are dropping them off at kindergarten, feeling strange as you glance at the empty child seat in your driver’s mirror; the next you are preparing them for secondary school. It is a huge step for both parents and children.
“A child’s schooldays are not merely about absorbing knowledge or acquiring grades. They are a time of maturation, a blossoming from childhood to young adulthood, the initial experience on the road of life,” says Peter Hamilton, headteacher at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Boys.
You do not want that road to be too bumpy at the start. It can be scary for year six children, leaving behind an often-small school — and some (or most) of the kids they have known since nursery — and entering a huge school where they will probably need to make new friends. So what can parents do to ease the stress?
Secondary schools usually host open days for new pupils so they can familiarise themselves with the grounds, get to know their form tutors and meet other children who will be in their class.
Immanuel College in Elstree, for instance, has several initiatives in place to ease the transition from primary to secondary school. Year five pupils from Jewish feeder schools attend teambuilding events every June, while year sixes who will join in September can spend a fun day at the school in the preceding July, when friendships can start to be formed.
Parents of new pupils also have the chance to meet and get to know each other, so by the start of the new term, faces and names are more familiar.
The school is also starting a new buddy scheme in September, called the Immanuel family programme. Lynda Dullop, director of admissions, says: “It is for students in year 13, year 12 and year seven, who will take the roles of a ‘big sibling’, a ‘middle sibling’ and a ‘little sibling’ respectively.
“A group of approximately three ‘little siblings’ will be buddied up with a couple of ‘middle siblings’ and a ‘big sibling’. This will enable students across the school to interact with each other and help find solutions to issues such as integration, friendships, or academic queries.
“Something like this will help students to feel supported and valued while being taught essential social skills.
“Transitioning from a primary school to a secondary school is not easy and this programme will aid children in settling in quickly and making friendships that will last for years.”
Spencer Lewis is headteacher at Yavneh College in Borehamwood, where similar steps are taken to make the adjustment to big school as stress free as possible.
“At Yavneh College, a lot of work is put into helping pupils get ready for and adjust to secondary school life. All pupils are initially invited into school for a meeting with me, in small groups, which gives me the opportunity to find out more about them as individuals and for them to ask me about anything that might be worrying them.
“Our pastoral manager and head of year seven visits the primary schools to talk to the teachers just before the pupils are invited in for a whole day of information, getting to know you and orientation. We use sixth-form buddies to help them settle in and we make sure that there is always someone available to show them how to get around and to answer their questions. Transition is really smooth.”
There are other, small but important things that parents can do to help. Remember that children want to fit in. The last thing they want to be is the kid who looks different, so make sure they have the correct uniform and all the necessary pens and stationery, in plenty of time for the start of term.
How are they getting to school? Have a trial run of the route, if they walk or cycle.
If they will be catching a bus, make sure they know exactly where to wait. If they miss a school bus home, have a plan of action, so they know what to do and where to go until they can be collected. Similarly, if they will be using the underground or rail, discuss alternative routes in the case of unexpected line closures.
What will they be eating for lunch? If they are changing from formal school dinners to another system, you may need to talk this through.
Most important of all, try not to panic too much, as this can be picked up by your child. Be positive about this new stage in your child’s life and they will probably see it in the same light.
The photo on this page is by Rachel Molina. It comes from
an exhibition about the transition from primary to secondary school, at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, east London, which runs until November 19. The exhibition features portraits and testimonies of children at this exciting but sometimes scary stage of their lives. Its approach is “neither sentimental nor judgmental”
Hang on in there: you will survive the move