What does good transition into Year 7 really look like?
The move from Year 6 to Secondary School has always been a significant step in a child’s journey. It’s a big move and a daunting one. However, in recent years this transition point has taken on an even higher profile with the growing trend for glossy year books, leavers’ hoodies and parties.
Once the assemblies, fairs and celebrations of the end of term have faded away, how can parents support and prepare their children for that next step over the summer holidays?
5 Tips For Parents
Help the parents of the children in your class prepare by giving them the following tips:
1. Save The Date and Get Connected
Secondary schools will vary in how they involve parents in Year 7 transition but most will offer induction events for new pupils and parents. Make sure you attend and take the opportunity to meet key staff, fellow parents and learn how to stay plugged in to school communications.
Find out who your child’s Form Tutor and Head of Year will be. One of the biggest changes to get used to at secondary school is the shift from one class teacher to a variety of subject teachers. Knowing who to reach out to when you need to is crucial.
2. Talk Friendships and Relationship Building
Whether your child is moving to a school where they will know plenty of others or not, set aside some time to discuss friendship building and the importance of managing new relationships in the first few weeks of term.
Like any large group of people coming together for the first time, relationship dynamics will be changeable. Encourage your child to keep an open mind and avoid looking for that one ‘best friend’ in the first few weeks.
Instead, support them to find the confidence to be open to getting to know as many people as possible before fixing themselves to a particular group. Getting involved in the extra-curricular life of the school can be a good way to make this happen. Find out what clubs might be on offer and encourage your child to try a couple they like the sound of.
3. Mobiles and Money
If you do not already have a mobile phone arrangement with your child, now is the time to get one in place. Many primary school leavers will already be mobile savvy but not all of them. The consideration should not just be whether or not your child should have a mobile phone but what type: internet enabled smart-phone or a more basic model for calls and texts only?
What is the school policy on mobiles? When are you happy for the phone to be used and for what purpose? The UK Council for Child Internet Safety offers helpful guidance on this. The role of money is also worth considering. How much cash will your child need each week and how do you expect it to be spent? A family agreement or contract on these issues can be an effective way of establishing clear parameters from the outset.
4. Journeys and Routines
Make sure your child is well-informed and confident about their new journey to and from school. This is especially important for children travelling to and from school alone for the first time. If public transport is involved, take a few practice journeys and talk about contingency plans. What would happen if…? This is a good way to pre-empt possible stressful situations before they arise.
Be clear that you trust your child to make the right decision but also be honest with them about the need to be streetwise and protect both themselves and their belongings.
Carrying cash and a mobile phone for the first time needs to be be carefully managed to avoid attracting unwelcome attention. It is also wise to get your child back into a good bedtime routine the fortnight before term starts to avoid a big shock to the system.
5. Embrace the Independence
One of the biggest ways parents can support their children to make the move from Year 6 to Year 7 is to recognise and accept that it represents a change in childhood independence. Face to face parental contact with school staff will reduce significantly. Your child will have to navigate a varied school timetable, a wider range of homework tasks and a number of wide-spanning deadlines.
As a parent, the best thing you can do is empower your child by laying the groundwork of preparations over the summer and then taking a step back to support from the sidelines and encourage them along this new adventure with optimism and positivity.