Transition From Primary To Secondary
The transition from primary to secondary school is a big issue for both children and their parents. Secondary school can be a huge challenge and it is important for both teachers and parents to work together in helping children to meet those challenges.
Some common transitional problems for children are as follows:
- When leaving primary school children go from being the oldest to the youngest in their new school.
- From having one teacher in primary school your child will probably have to cope with as many as ten or more teachers with different teaching styles and personalities.
- Secondary school is much bigger and your child will go from having one classroom to ten or more classrooms.
- More homework to be done as there are usually 6-8 subject periods in one day.
- A larger number of textbooks to be transported and organised.
- Longer school day.
- Greater competition both academically and in sports and activities.
- Faster pace of teaching – in secondary school each teacher only has around a 40-minute subject period whereas in primary school the teacher can devote extra time to any subjects the children are struggling with.
- Having to make new friends – this is especially difficult if none of a child’s primary school friends have moved on to the same secondary school.
Helping them AdjustPrior to starting secondary school you should help your child to familiarise themselves with the layout of their secondary school by visiting it and taking a tour. If the opportunity arises your child should preview some of the textbooks that they will be learning from.
Changing from primary school to secondary school will seem strange for your child at first. Usually at this transitional age they are more than ready to take on the new challenge of secondary school as it is all part of the growing up process, however they are likely to miss their old school and friends, especially as not every child from a particular primary school will end up going to the same secondary school. Encourage your child to get involved in as many activities as possible and to make new friends; they will still be able to keep in contact with old friends as well.
Many schools nowadays operate a ‘buddy system’. This is where new children to a secondary school are assigned a ‘buddy’ or older child who will show them around and help them to fit in. This is the person your child can go to if they have any problems or worries.
Remember, it is normal for your child to feel uncomfortable in their new surroundings for a while. Encourage them to share their feelings about their new school, what they are learning and how they are coping, with you or with someone else that they trust. Also, encourage them to get involved in the many new activities that they will have to explore, as this will help them to become integrated into school life and will help to build peer relationships. Most schools will have people available to help if your child is having difficulty settling in, so don’t be afraid to discuss any potential problems with your child’s teachers or principal.