Congratulations, you've successfully kept your child alive long enough to start secondary school and if you're anything like me, right about now I was panicking about buying the new school uniform, worrying about the new journey to get to the school and nervous as hell for my daughter starting Secondary all on her own. She didn't know a single person, she was the only one going up to her chosen Secondary from her Primary school.
I wanted to share with you some top tips for your little Secondary school starter:
Being with friends is quite important
I have asked quite a few Primary school leavers recently what they are looking forward to in their new school, absolutely all of them named a friend who will be joining them, if they know at least one person to enter that big school on their first day, it will settle their nerves. We all know being with friends can often be just what we need, likewise that's how our children feel too. Having a familiar face will help alleviate any loneliness or isolation during break times.
Making new friends…
Unfortunately my daughter didn't have this important person when she started her new school, but actually deep down I knew it would help her establish a brand new friendship group, which was relieving, and that's just what she did, on day one she came home and could not stop talking about the girls she had met. All the worrying I did that day after dropping her off wasn't necessary, it's good to make new friends and meet new people.
It Is absolutely normal to feel nervous or anxious, it is a huge deal. There's new faces, new routines and new shoes. Us adults can completely understand these feelings all too much, so one thing we can do to reassure our child is always be open to discuss their worries. Let them vent away and encourage them to express it.
Another way to alleviate their concerns is to include them in all preparations you may be doing, for example making any new purchases completely their choice. If they require a new school bag, maybe ask for their opinion, and the same for pencil cases or stationery. If you know you need to purchase school shirts, ask them to come shopping with you and pick out the perfect ones. I know it sounds silly but they may also want to pick out their choice of lunch box too, I have been on the receiving end of a 'mum I'm not a baby anymore' outburst, and boy did I learn my lesson there.
Thirdly, you could help out by filling them in on your timely routine for their first day. 'we'll be leaving at this time, you can meet your friend here, and you can take £2.00 for a drink at lunch time', or something along those lines. I live by my routine in the mornings, always have done, but it works.
One final tip on this subject, is to maybe read out some introductory information that the school has on their website. You can show them the pictures too and encourage some fun around this activity as well. Perhaps asking them some questions about how many pupils there currently are or how many main buildings the school has. A correct answer wins a free new biro for their pencil case haha.
The on site facilities
You should feel quite humbled if your child's new school has the likes of an on site swimming pool, a gym and a canteen on offer. I think it is so important to have these facilities available benefitting all pupils, it's literally a bonus on both sides. The school can feel proud and use them as an asset to sell their school, so to speak and then it's exciting for our children, peaking their interests even more towards their days at the new school. So if the new Secondary school has any exciting opportunities share these with your child too.
The school uniform
Start purchasing little and often, now. I have heard that some schools have a dedicated day during the summer holidays in which they open the site up to purchase labelled blazers or ties, so double checking their website could be a first port of call. Then there are some main school uniform shops around in most towns. Whether it be in person or online, you will still need to act now.
The year I had to buy a uniform was the dreaded covid year, nowhere was open. I had to order online and wait 5 to 7 days for it to arrive, unfortunately typical of me, my daughter's blazer was far too big for her grrrr. A nuisance then followed of returning the same and waiting for another to arrive.
If your child is anything like mine, she made sure before picking all her schools at the option part of the year, that the uniform was acceptable to wear. Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? But she reached that stage where looking the part made her feel good. Some uniforms are not very stylish and if this is the case, you can ease their minds by informing them it's not for all day long. And that a gentle reminder of wearing a uniform might actually become part of their adult life, it's not their choice, it's part of belonging and obeying rules.
Considering thoughts of the teachers
Hopefully your child will know by now their new teachers' name and what form class they will be entering. I have found it very useful especially in the first year, to make sure I had contact email addresses of teachers and any support groups at the school. I honestly email the school at least twice a week with many different issues we have encountered along our journey, and I cannot stress this enough. It is really reassuring to know you can directly speak to the correct teachers and express any concerns you may have. To find these all important contact details, the school website should be equipped enough to provide them.
Of course, it works both ways, your child's teachers may also need to contact you, completing every form that is sent to you, straight away and returning it, is helping out immensely.
As well as the children being new to the school, the teachers are welcoming in our children too. The new students need to consider being respectful to all teachers and accepting the fact they do have authority over the class. And last of all obeying any school rules that are set down. Our teachers work incredibly hard all year round and a new school year deserves a new fresh start for everyone.
I hope these helped you with some ideas to help settle your new Secondary school starter. For us, it's a reminder that unfortunately they are growing up far too quickly but just think how far we have come too. For me, I left school 22 years ago now eeek!
Do you remember your first days of a new school?
Did you like your uniform?