A guide for coping with the change of schools

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As we start the last half term of this school year, your child may be about to move up to secondary school.

The transition can be an anxious time for parents.

During the early school years, it is fairly easy to support your child at school.

You will probably know his teacher, other members of staff and parents, as well as being familiar with school policies and routines.

The thought of losing the control this familiarity offers is as daunting for parents as it is for children and you may well wonder how best to continue to support your child.

You may also worry about your child’s ability to cope with the new environment and crucially, whether he or she will make friends.

Your anxieties may be eased by adopting strategies that help with the transition.

At Families magazine, we received some professional advice which might help you prepare for and manage the early months.

Before the move, you should try to shield your child from your anxiety.

They can make this transition. Critically, they need to know that you believe in them and their ability to deal with difficulties and challenges.

Towards the end of Year 6, you should try to step back from the organisation of your child’s school life e.g. packing school bags.

You may secretly want to savour these last few months of dependency but your child needs a taste of independence. If they are slow to take up the reins, don’t take over and don’t despair, they will get there eventually.

If your child will walk to school or travel independently on public transport, practice the new journey.

Start by travelling together but without interaction. Then move to simply following behind. Finally, let them do it alone and meet them there. Try travelling at busy times.

Allow your child to make mistakes and find solutions.

This equips them with the skills to handle the unexpected like bus detours.

After the move, make sure a parent or trusted carer is available before and after school – to provide food, notice if your child comes in late and listen to their successes and concerns.

Watch and listen, help out if asked but don’t take over.

Support the development of friendships. It is of great importance to older children that they mix socially and establish secure friendships. They need to do this while still young enough to turn to you for support when they make mistakes.

It’s appropriate for this age group to have access to a basic mobile phone and computer but the dangers of social networking should be discussed.

Understand what homework they have and know when it has been completed and handed in.

It’s important to schedule time to relax. Trust that they can cope and make sure there is time for sleep, friends, homework, more sleep, watching TV, playing computer games and yet more sleep!