Starting secondary school is a significant milestone in your child’s life. As well as going from being the oldest in school to being the youngest, starting Year 7 means they suddenly have to be more independent; finding their way around a large school with different teachers for different subjects.
With thousands of children across the UK set to progress to senior school this autumn, here are our top 10 tips for starting secondary school.
1. Visit first
Most schools offer induction days or social events before the term begins. It’s important to go along and find out more about the school and how to get around so your child can be familiar with their new surroundings.
They might even meet one or two new faces from their new class so that they will see a familiar face on their first day.
2. Plan your journey
Starting secondary school requires children to take on more responsibility; not just getting to lessons on time but also getting to school in the morning.
Secondary schools can often be further from your home, so it’s good to plan how your child will get there in the morning. Will you drop them off? Will they get public transport? Or will they walk or cycle? Do a trial run – particularly if your child is catching a bus – so it’s not brand new to them on day one.
3. Check the school’s mobile phone policy
Parents often find comfort knowing their child has a mobile phone with which they can contact them. So, check your school’s mobile phone policy.
Some schools allow children to keep their phones on them as long as they are in silent mode, while others have different rules.
4. Make sure your child is on time
If your child is five minutes late to each lesson, they will miss 25 minutes of learning a day! Being late interrupts the teacher and the students, and your child could end up in detention.
5. Tell your children not to be afraid of asking for help
Secondary school can be daunting in the first few days and weeks, and everyone gets lost at least once!
Encourage your child to ask for help from teachers or older students if they are struggling. They will have been in the same position once themselves and can help your child get used to their new surroundings.
Teachers are also there to talk to if your child has any worries or needs help.
6. Get the uniform sorted
It can pay to get the school uniform sorted early. Get a uniform list from the school and make sure you buy enough regulation wear for your child.
Going to the school in advance to see what students are wearing can help your child to avoid standing out on day one.
7. Encourage your child to join a club
Lunchtime or after-school clubs are an excellent way for your child to meet new and like-minded people. Whether it is sport, music or art, there will be people who share the same interests in various age groups.
There are many positive things that kids get from participating in clubs, such as performing or competing.
8. Be organised
Helping your child get ready for school the night before can promote good habits and make the mornings less stressful.
• Lay their uniform out for the next day the night before.
• Put their locker key on a chain or key ring and make sure it’s attached to their clothes or bag. Make sure you get a copy of the key in case it gets lost.
• Get a storage box for everything school-related, such as books and PE kit. It will help you to make sure nothing gets lost.
• Input all relevant numbers into their mobile phone, including your phone number, a taxi company and the school.
9. Make sure your child speaks to new people
When children start secondary school, everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is nervous and surrounded by people they didn’t go to primary school with, so encourage your child not to be shy and to speak to new people.
Friends are a big part of high school, and your child will meet people who they will stay in touch for years. Year 7 is a perfect place to start.
10. Don’t panic!
Your child may be nervous about starting secondary school, but you should reassure them that there’s no need to panic. Lots of other children are in the same position, and they will soon get into a routine and find a circle of friends.
Tell them to be themselves, and everything will be fine!