My youngest moves from Year 6 in Primary to Year 7 in September which is causing much anxiety for him presently. As his two older siblings have gone through this journey, which you would think might help – it actually doesn’t. As he saw his siblings struggling with the change; dealing with the bigger children, the swearing, the pushing around and the constant jostling for position, has meant he’s actually more anxious then those facing the unknown.
For those parents of vulnerable children out there I wanted to give you a few tips on making this transition smooth from my own experience and also to remind myself to do these things too!
- Recognise the signs that your child is anxious. Might sound like complete common sense but of course for those of us with children who can’t really communicate openly their fears and worries we have to resort to being detectives and analysing every behaviour to see what’s going on. My son has surprised me actually with a new one these last few weeks. He’s been walking home from school all year and spends an hour on his own at home watching TV. He’s loved this time up to now. However he’s now started finding other adults that may be around to help him feel better – friendly neighbours, friends whose parents are home or relatives close by. Some of these visits were not known to me until recently as he was always at home as usual when I arrived with his siblings. Of course I have now gone back to picking him up every day.
- If possible get a mentor to help with the transition. We are fortunate to have youth workers connected to us that know our children and will spend extra time helping them adjust to the change. There may be people close to you that you know who could do this – an Uncle, older brother, Scout leader. Our children may not want to tell us how they feel but might talk to someone else they trust.
- Take any help the school offers. My child has been offered a place at Summer School at his Secondary School as a child they have recognised may struggle. I have to say my son’s not too impressed with this, but I know it will help him to feel safe if he knows some of the staff and has spent a bit of time in the building without it being full of the other 2,000 students.
- Get to know the key staff now. For me the key staff members at Secondary are the Pastoral Lead (Head of House at our school) and the SENCO staff. Others may want to speak to the form tutor but I know from experience the people who will really get to know my child and be valuable in them settling in are the Pastoral team – those concerned with all aspects of his learning.
- Nurture future friendships over the summer break. This is a biggy for our son. He is worried about having no friends even though many of his class mates now are going to the sane school. Six to seven weeks is a long time though to not see each other. Plan to meet up over the break with those you know your child will see again at Secondary – that way they will have someone they feel they still have a relationship with to connect with at school.
Finally to try and relax. I know how stressful it is for our children and for us too! I have seen though that Year 7 was a very challenging year for both of mine as they fought to find their place. However Year 8 and 9 have been much better. It’s not always the case of course, but the years go so quick and things change so quickly it’s important to hold onto hope and keep the communication going with all concerned.