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Transition to Secondary School

The PA organised a talk on Monday 7th October given by Sharon Hayden of the National Parent's Council. She discussed the transition of pupils from primary to secondary school. Here are some helpful tips from the night.

The NPC recommends that you and your child visit as many schools on their open nights as you can so as to keep options open. Try to have your child on board with the decision as to choice of school and consider friendships, academics and extra curricular activities as you make the decision. All secondary schools have different options as regards subject choices and the new short courses with the changing Junior Cycle programme. Be informed and ask loads of questions so together with your child, you'll make the right decision for their future.

1. Talk to your child about their feelings/worries/ideas about moving to a new school. We all went through it and survived! Don't let any negative feelings you may have colour your judgement for their experience.

2. Try to see the world through their eyes. Have open conversations and normalise growing up and changing and all that this entails, not only around the transition to secondary school but feelings, friendships, bodily changes(puberty) and responsibilities.

3. Chat to them every day and ask them 'what's the best thing that happened in your day? what are you looking forward to tomorrow?'. Try not to focus on the negative and use open-ended questions so that they will provide more information that one word answers.

4. Make a mini laminated timetable for them to carry in their pockets and have a few larger ones displayed around the house e.g. on the fridge, near the back door etc so it will be a clear reminder as to what's needed each day for lessons.

5. Get a weekly planner for the child/family and put up notes each week as to requirements for the week ahead e.g. €5 for swimming on Tuesday, Geography assignment due on Thursday, GP appointment on Friday, drama after school Friday etc.

6. Enable your child to have reflective practice especially when things go wrong. Ask them what they would do differently if that happened again so they are prepared for a situation that might arise. Perhaps role play certain scenarios, especially with regard to bullying, changes in friendships, social media etc and play out what could happen and what should they do.

7. Buy a different coloured zip folder for each subject and put all the books,copies,requisite items in each clearly labelled folder so that on any given day then they only have to bring required folders.

8. Talk to them about the nature of friendships and that puberty can bring changes to friendship. Encourage them not to let friendships be the sole defining factor for choice of new school and ask them to think about if these particular friendships failed, how might school be then? Encourage broad circles of friends and "all best friends together" rather than relying on only one or two close friends all the time. Teach them the skills to make their own groups of friends.

9. Make them accountable for the own PE gear etc. Give them the skills to develop and demonstrate responsibility. Teach them how to do things for themselves.

10. Well-being is now integrated across many subjects in the Junior Cycle and encourage children to talk about their feelings as they grow and change and make it a normal part of family life. If they see you worrying about things, they will pick up on this so try not let your own experiences e.g. I was no good at maths, I found it very difficult to make new friends, etc. cloud your judgement on this vital part of their lives.

11. If there are any reports etc about your child e.g. psychological, speech therapy, occupational therapy etc please furnish the school with these so they have a full view of your child's needs. Likewise if there might be issues at home that may have affect your child's wellbeing e.g. parental seperation, bereavement, illness in the family etc. it is also a good idea to inform the school so they can be prepared and support your child.

12. At parent teacher meeting time, be prepared to have lots of time! There will be many teachers you'll need to see. When you are discussing this later with your child and giving feedback from teachers, try to be positive and avoid the 'buts'! If there are any issues that your child might need to work on, they probably already know this themselves but aim for a positive solution focused way of dealing with these.

13. Enjoy and embrace this new stage in your child's life and give them all the love and encouragement you can as they leave us and head for pastures new!

You can also download the NPC leaflet summarising all this information via this link.

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