Preparing Your Child for Move to Secondary school: Tips from Chatsworth International School
The transition from primary into secondary school starts well before graduation from primary and those first days in August. As a community-focussed, K-13 school, Chatsworth International School regularly provides numerous opportunities for students throughout our year groups to interact and work collaboratively. This may be done through projects in the Arts (visual art, drama, music) or after school activities (CCAs), as well as more informal situations during our whole school events such as UN Day or the School Fair. Primary students already have an added level of comfort and familiarity with secondary school due to the numerous activities they are involved in from kindergarten.
Awareness of the changes and issues faced during the transition
The transition from primary to secondary school coincides with adolescence so parents need to be aware that their child will have an increased awareness of self during this period, that will last throughout their teen years. Students become more independent during this stage of their life and will start wanting to spend more time with friends than they do with family (where this may have been the opposite in primary school). A child’s personal, social and emotional growth and development during this stage of their lives cannot be understated and every child will develop at different rates. Parents may be surprised at some of the new friendships their child has or how their child navigates some of these new friendship circles as this did not exist in primary school.
In terms of what you might see with their studies, you may see your child lacking organisation in their work and daily lives, an increase in energy during the day and a desire to sleep in each morning (secondary students require more sleep than you may think and their internal ‘clocks’ actually shift during adolescence), less overt dependence on asking you for help (but still needing it), and some initial struggle in keeping up with their assignments.
Tips for parents preparing their child for the move to secondary school
There are a few things to keep in mind for parents to assist their children as they move into middle school.
1. Help your child to relax
Remember, first and foremost, that there is no ‘best’ solution to any situation your child might face. What might have been successful for your older child as they went through adolescence and middle school transition, or your neighbour’s child, might not be suitable for your current child. Talk about middle school as a right of passage where your child will have an increase in independence but also an increase in responsibility. Remind them that their teachers are there to help them be successful and are used to having new secondary students. Your child will still have a homeroom teacher whom they will see every day and spend time with during pastoral lessons.
2. Retain an open dialogue with your child
The school will have already had discussions with your child about adolescence in Year 6 as part of our health units. Parents may wish to find more opportunities to spend time with their child during this stage to retain that open dialogue you’ve had in primary school. While your child may be exhibiting signs that they want a great deal of independence, remember that they still require guidance and support. Ensuring regular communication at home will help to remind your child that they can discuss issues with you when they arise.
3. Help them with organisation
Students are entering a period with an increase in the expectation that they organise themselves and, for some, this is more challenging than others. During the first weeks of school, be sure to attend any school information sessions and ask your child regularly what they are doing in school. Help them organise a schedule for homework, an appropriate study/homework space, and ensure they are getting enough sleep. Adolescents require plenty of sleep (8-10 hours) during this period of rapid physical and emotional growth.
4. Keep in touch with teachers and monitor your child’s progress
While it may be tempting to solve issues for your developing child, resist the temptation to do so and instead encourage them and support them in finding solutions on their own. Teachers are always here to help and guide and our counsellors are happy to support students and parents as well.
5. Speak with counsellors if you or your child need help
While it has decreased significantly in recent years, there remains a stigma about reaching out to school counsellors for some. School counsellors are experts in personal and social-emotional growth and development and they speak with numerous children throughout the day. Chatsworth International School has a strong student services team at school and a strong pastoral programme to address regular issues and concerns that arise during adolescence.
Contact Admissions to find out how your child can benefit from our nurturing and balanced IB education.