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Moving to secondary school

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The transition for children moving from primary to secondary school can be an emotionally difficult time for both you and your children.

They are entering the next chapter of their lives, plus going from being the oldest and settled in primary to be the youngest, and therefore often smallest in a much bigger secondary school.

This can be daunting for children, the more you can talk to them and prepare them for the changes, the easier they will find it to settle in. There are things you can do to cope and make this a more exciting time, helping you to feel more positive.

Top tips for an easy transition to starting secondary school

  • If you’ve been unable to visit the school, show your child their new school’s website so they know what the school looks like, where the entrances are and how they get around the site.
  • Help your child plan how they are getting there. If you are taking them, it can help to plan what you both need to do to be ready on time. If your child is going on their own, make sure they know the way. Being prepared for how they’re going to get to their new school can help them feel calmer and more confident.
  • Prepare what they need to take with them like pens, pencils and other stationary items like a calculator.
  • Talk to them about their new teachers and new subjects they’ll be learning. Encouraging your child to take a note of the lesson timetable and writing down their homework so they don’t forget is a good idea too.
  • Ask them how they’re feeling, what they’re looking forward to, what they might be nervous about. It can be scary when they don’t know who they can talk to but teachers are there to help and they can also speak to reception staff if they need support. Some schools will have mentors or other pupils who are there to support them as well.
  • Talk to them about who they already know when they start from their old school.
  • Be a good listener, it is very normal for your child to be nervous about new surroundings.
  • Talk to your child about how to make new friends – Try smiling, looking the person in the eye and speaking clearly and confidently. They could also try asking questions like “Where do you live?” and “What school have you come from?”
  • It can take time to make new friends. If your child is worried about break or lunch times they could find out if they can use the library or ICT rooms until they feel more confident.
  • Explore relaxation techniques together, taking deep breaths, thinking of their happy place. See the further resources for more mindfulness techniques.
  • Show your child the BBC Bitesize website, which has lots of top tips from other children and teachers that your children will be able to relate to.
Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
Sheffield Children's@SheffChildrens
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