Starting Secondary School is Stressful… for Parents Never Mind the Kids!

Starting secondary school is one of life’s major milestones.

There’s no doubt that it’s a very stressful time for parents.

Oh, and the kids too!

Who can forget leaving primary school and spending six weeks wondering about secondary school and being part of the new kids on the block?

Good schools work really hard to help build a positive bridge from the cosy, cosseting primary schools to the big scary high school, but most parents will admit to an uneasy feeling at this key time in a child’s education.

So what can parents do to help their child prepare for and successfully settle into secondary school?

It definitely helps if parents are familiar with the high school and can be positive about the opportunities that lie ahead for their child.

  • Visit the school:

Try to make sure that they have visited the school with their primary school and if you can, get them involved in activities in the high school before they start. My youngest daughter joined a community dance group run at the high school so was attending the school and meeting teachers a good year before she started. It certainly helped.

  • Practice the route to school:

Over the summer holiday, it helps if you can practice the route to and from school several times with your child, particularly if the journey involves public transport and busy roads. Building familiarity will certainly help your child and your own nerves as you will know that they know the route and any dangers well.

  • Organisational skills:

As well as involving your child in the process of purchasing the school uniform and equipment, it would be useful to challenge their organisational skills ahead of them starting high school. They will need more developed organisational skills than they needed at primary school when most of the thinking is done for them.

  • Support:

It is critical to be supportive during the first few weeks of secondary school. Striking a balance between keeping a watchful eye on any incidents which might be serious and encouraging your child to deal with the challenges they have in transitioning is tough but possible. Try to be sympathetic to any worries and avoid dismissing them as silly or petty. Talk them through and find solutions together. Children tend to cope better if they feel they are being taken seriously. You might find that some tears occur and that your child finds it difficult to get into a routine or be sufficiently organised. This is pretty normal and should work its way through.

Moving to secondary school is a big step however, if you follow the steps above, speak to friends, relations and other people who have experienced moving school, it really won't feel too bad.

And don't forget that there will be teachers and support staff at your new school who will be there to help.