Making the transition to secondary school
GOING FROM PRIMARY TO HIGH
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.
SMART MOVE: Making the move to high school, when handled with care, can be done well.