How To Prepare Your Child for Secondary School

How did you prepare your children for school? In less than a week my eldest son will start high school. Starting school is such a big deal at any age. It is one of life’s great milestones. And so memorable. 

It is such a big part of your life and shapes your future. From the inspiring (and sometimes not so inspiring) teachers to best friends, friendship groups and form classes. To education itself, the journey to and from and who you make it with. It’s such a big transition at an age, but this one, moving on to secondary school, I think is the one that defines you most.

how to Prepare Your Child for Secondary School 7 things to consider

How to Prepare Your Child for Secondary School

If you want a reminder of what to do before returning to school read my post from last year with 10 things to do before the kids go back to school to save both time and money, but this is specifically about secondary school, how to prepare for one of the biggest changes in both yours and your child’s life.

Going to Big School

I still remember my first day at ‘big’ school. Kitted out in uniform. No blazer or tie though thankfully for me - it was very relaxed for the 80’s as Consett Steelworks had recently closed and the schools took into consideration the poverty in the area when planning appropriate school wear.

Blackfyne Comprehensive was split over two sites so even though it educated over 1000 young people, first and second years (now we’d call them Year 7 & 8) were shielded from some of the harsh realities of school life. This also meant my elder sister was on a different school site to me so I could be my own person. 

As I’d had to move Junior School in what is now year 6 (thanks to Thatcher closing village schools) I had school friends to make the transition with, and all in all, I really enjoyed my time at big school. 

My interests today closely resemble what I remember learning the most … Sport – I happily played for every school team and we persuaded the teachers to let girls play football … Politics – mainly from my Geography teacher – I still remember the day when Libya was bombed by the US in 1986 - we didn’t do our planned lesson that day, instead we discussed what might happen as a result instead – and Popular Culture – from Smash Hits and Just Seventeen and Grange Hill, discussed fully with my friends, my view of the word was formed. 

This may just appear to be my ramblings and memories but actually, it has shaped how we approached choosing a school for our eldest.

how to Prepare Your Child for Secondary School 7 things to consider

Preparing Your Child for Secondary School

So in less than one weeks’ time, my 11-year-old will head off to school on his own. Over the summer we’ve put a few things in place to help with the process …

Preparing Your Child for Secondary School 7 things to consider

7 Things to Consider Before Starting Secondary School

1. The Journey to School

School starts early at 8.20am. We have half hourly buses on that route so we’ve been practising our morning routine to leave the house at 7.50am and also how to purchase a bus ticket and ask the driver for the correct destination. All good so far!

2. A Place to Study

We are fortunate that the boys can have their own room in our house. Over the past year they have moved into their own rooms rather than share, affording them a little more space for a desk and chair, so no they both have a dedicated space at which to sit and do homework. My eldest also has his Raspberry Pi and monitor hooked up so he’s set for coding too.

3. Buying Uniform

Doing this at the start of the holidays definitely lowered the stress levels. I took my eldest with me to try them on. Shoes were the most stressful. Having the wrong uniform can mean your child ends up in ‘isolation’ until rectified so the pressure really is on the parents. The school though has provided full instructions on where to buy the correct footwear as well as clothing so fingers crossed we’ve got it right. Now just hoping his feet don’t grow too fast. And now to label everything too.

4. Packing a Bag

Everything about big school seems to be so much bigger. He’s going to need to carry with him a lot more things on a daily basis. Out goes the school book bag, and in its place, we have a rucksack, PE kit with trainers and football boots; stationery; plus homework to manoeuvre. I’m sure at the start he’s going to be really keen but keeping up packing his school bag the night before may be difficult to keep going.

5. Getting a Mobile

I have resisted so far allowing him to have a mobile however for emergency use I can see that it’s a very useful thing. And also learning to use a phone is now a life skill in itself just like being able to find your way around the internet. I can virtually run my whole business from my phone so I totally understand how important they are in the modern world so getting a phone is a learning experience too for my eldest. How to budget, operate within boundaries and use with care and consideration as well as not lose the phone will all be valuable things to learn.

6. Becoming Independent

This is probably one of the hardest things to learn for a parent. Letting go. Letting them grow, develop and go out into the world on their own. Taking small steps is what I suggest. Going to the post box, going to the shop, letting them the lead in crossing the road, paying for things in shops with cash and checking the change when with you are all ways of developing independence and confidence in your child.

7. Taking Responsibility

If, letting go is hard for a parent then taking responsibility is equally as hard for a child. It’s important to remember that they are still children, with many years of play ahead of then still, but instilling a responsible attitude to everything they do is such an important part of being a parent. Having empathy, caring about others, looking after our planet, accepting and learning from failure, and being the best they can be are all ways in which we can help them to take responsibility for their actions.

Preparing Your Child for Secondary School 7 things to consider

Helping our Children Learn, Develop and Grow

I’ve also asked other family bloggers who have already been through the experience of a child starting secondary school for their hints and tips on what to do before the big day arrives and it seems we all agree that the transition to high school is all about helping our children with the practicalities of school, to be organised, but above all nurturing them to help them develop and grow.

Preparing Your Child for Secondary School 7 things to consider

Help them with the practicalities …

Star says “Think about the journey and if they are getting public transport to school, make sure you do it with them a few times at the end of the school holidays so they know where they are going on the first day!”

Jennifer says “Practise walks to school. Over the summer my ten-year-old has gone to school and back once a week to get used to it and establish how much time he will need to leave. It’s given him confidence and got him used to the route!”

Janet says: “Organise a space at home for homework with a dedicated surface area and some storage in a quiet spot. Ideally, invest in a desk, but if you haven't space then the dining table is fine, as long as you get some good storage for their schoolwork and stationery. If you're having to use the dining table then you'll need to develop your own self-discipline to keep that surface area clear after school each day so your child can use it.”

Becky says “Show them how to work a key and have a key cut for them. Make sure they know how to use their mobile phone and rules around switching it off etc. that the school will expect them to keep.

Preparing Your Child for Secondary School 7 things to consider

Help them to be organised …

Mandi says “Teach them to put their pe kit back in their bag after the lesson and ensure they put their tie in their bag before doing pe, to ensure both kit and tie are not lost at least three times over the year!!”

Eileen says “Teach your children the importance of packing their own bag, and being responsible for organising their own stuff.”

Preparing Your Child for Secondary School 7 things to consider

Help them to grow as people …

Carolin says “Teach your kids that it's important to have respect for themselves and stay true to their values. Tell them not to try to be someone they're not just to please others and don't forget to emphasise the importance of showing respect to those around them, e.g. friends, teachers and other staff members.

Jen says “Give them a set of rules if they don't already have it and expectations regarding times they need to be home and who they are allowed to invite round and when. This minimises the chance of you getting into a houseful of kids!!

Preparing Your Child for Secondary School 7 things to consider

Do you have any other tips to add?

Deb x

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how to Prepare Your Child for Secondary School 7 things to consider