Transitioning from primary to secondary school is a significant moment in any Singaporean child’s life. This is a meaningful milestone; however, it is only the beginning of your child’s educational journey.
Secondary school can be quite different from primary school. First and foremost, the school building itself is different. Also, the subjects children will have to study change, and perhaps most importantly, they will have to interact with new classmates. Everything is new, and all of it can be extremely overwhelming for a small child.
Although many children find the change exciting, some children may be daunted by the prospect. In the beginning, they will not know anyone in the new school; the school building itself will be unfamiliar to them, so they may find themselves both literally and figuratively lost.
Also, they will have to cope with the increased workload, which can be double of that they had to deal with in primary school. In addition, they have to perform various co-curricular activities.
Dealing with all of the aforementioned factors during the first week or even the first month of secondary school can be rather unpleasant for the child. So what can you do as a parent to alleviate that pressure and make the transition as smooth and painless as possible?
Keep reading if you want to find out.
How can you help your child transition from primary to secondary school?
Parents have a major role to play during the transition period. With everything around them changing parents and home life is the one familiar element that remains constant in the child’s life, so they will look to you for comfort.
As time goes by and your children become more familiar with the new school, they will start enjoying their independence more and more; however, in the beginning, they may seek your approval on many different things as they are not completely sure what the rules are in this new school environment.
The most important thing is to always be available to talk to your children, to explain to them things that are unfamiliar, and give them moral support if they need it.
Many children feel nervous when they are transitioning to secondary school, and there are different ways you can help them calm their nerves.
The first step is to be prepared.
Your child is not the first one to attend a secondary school, and in today’s technological day and age, there is a lot of information available online about what the education process in secondary schools can be like. You and your child can look up this information together and familiarize yourselves with what is to come.
You can find out what subjects they will be taking, where exactly their classes will take place, what additional materials and equipment they might need, and you can even look up some information about their future teachers.
All human beings are intimidated by the thought of venturing into the unknown, so by looking up this information and getting familiar with the new school, you will hopefully be able to calm your child’s nerves.
If your child has absolutely no idea what they are stepping into, they might make some small but embarrassing mistakes in front of their peers, and this is something we must try to avoid.
Another tip is to actually listen to what your child is saying and read between the lines.
On the first day of primary school, your child may have openly asked you to stay with them. However, this time, they may not ask you to do that as they may feel embarrassed.
This doesn’t mean that they are fully confident. Listen to what your child is saying and pay attention to their tone; if you notice that they are feeling anxious, offer some words of encouragement. Children at this age may feel shy to ask for emotional support, but they will certainly appreciate it when it is provided.
After the first day at secondary school, ask them how their day went and listen to what they are saying without interrupting to comment or judging them. You can ask them if they liked their teachers, if they made friends with any of their classmates, if they had any difficulty navigating around the campus, whether any of the classes were too difficult for them, and so on.
If children sense judgment coming from you, they will stop telling you about their day in the future, which will increase their level of anxiety. All you need to do at this stage is to let them rant and offer your support. If they ask for your input, feel free to offer constructive advice.
Another important thing you need to do is to talk to them about the boundaries.
Becoming more independent is part of studying at secondary school. On the one hand, it is very important to encourage your children to develop independently; however, it is equally important to teach them not to abuse this new-found freedom. Before your child even sets foot in secondary school, you need to set some ground rules and make sure they follow them.
These rules will show the child that even though they are not under strict supervision as they used to be in primary school, some basic things are still expected of them. The boundaries will help them develop a sense of responsibility and good moral character.
Here are some examples of basic rules you can set:
- set a curfew, ask your child to be at home before a certain hour;
- remind them that they need to behave politely and respectfully towards their teacher and their classmates;
- agree on the time for homework, will they do it straight after finishing school or will there be a gap to allow them to have a rest?
To conclude, the period when your child graduates from primary school and enters secondary school is filled with uncertainty, anxiety, and anticipation.
However, if your child knows that they have you to rely upon, this transitional period will not be as hard. So be there for your child, offer them an ear when they want to vent, and give them advice if they ask for it. If you support them, they will cope just fine, as the millions of students did before them.
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