Stand back and let them soar

The Jewish Chronicle - - EDUCATION - BY JOY SABLE Not Heard, Seen But

with the pol­i­tics depart­ment con­trib­ute to the mix.

EX­TRA CHANCES TO SHINE

DRAMA

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.”

CHESS

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.

BAL­LET

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.

MU­SIC

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.

IVRIT

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”

PHOTO: RACHEL MOLINA

Hang on in there: you will sur­vive the move

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