Settling in to senior school


The start of big school can be a nervous time but it is also the launch of a great adventure, a super seven year chapter of life’s story – a part of our life that we never forget.

The first day of term in September is the best day of the year – full of new promise, amazing potential , eager faces and uniform just a little too big with room for a child to ‘grow into it’. That is especially true for new students entering senior school for the first time.

There is a myth perpetuated by teenagers that teachers in secondary schools and parents at home both have an aversion to talking to each other. That myth suits teenagers world view but isn’t true. All good schools have a strong commitment to the home-school partnership and the best advice by far is to talk to the teachers in the secondary school as often as can help your child. There is no list of ‘meddling parents’ in the staff room, teachers are often parents themselves and all appreciate supportive parents while understanding that parenting is an impossibly paradox! So my main advice is to work with the school and never pitch yourself as ‘on the side of your child’ against the school. The school is also on the side of children and you will gain more by being constructive than confrontational.

Remember that the school will want each child to be happy, heathy and high achieving – in that order. That starts by wanting to help children to hit the ground running and here are a few tips that could help.

Getting there and getting dressed!

  • Have several trial runs of the journey, building up their level of independence gradually.
  • Ask them to text you as they arrive at school safely, if possible.
  • Arrange for them to travel with a friend and allow plenty of time.
  • Keep emergency phone numbers in their bag, in case they lose their phone and need to contact you.
  • New shirts and other uniform items are often a lot more comfortable after having been washed!
  • Order sports kit early as there is often a long delivery period and

Building confidence and making friends

  • Remind your child that everyone is in the same boat when they start. Talk to them about ways to initiate conversation if they find this difficult.
  • Remember friendships take time to develop: don’t panic if they haven’t made a friend immediately and don’t be surprised if the fiends they make in the first few days soon change as term gets properly underway.
  • Encourage them to join clubs and become involved in school life. This can be a good way to make friends with children with similar interests.
  • Help them become independent
  • Use coloured folders to keep the work for each subject together.
  • Ensure they pack their bag the night before: don’t be tempted to do it for them!
  • Teach them how to put a reminder in their phone for anything extra to remember.
  • Buy a key ring with stretchy chain to attach to their bag, to avoid lost locker/door keys
  • Get into a routine for getting homework done and make sure they have a suitable space to work in. A quiet shared area can help you to ensure they are not getting distracted!
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