Moving from primary to secondary school is a big transition and a significant event in every child’s education journey. It is a time full of fun and exciting new adventures, but it can also be challenging and anxious for some children. We asked the Leadership Team at Southern Cross Catholic College to share their wisdom in making the transition a positive experience for all students.
What are the biggest differences between primary and secondary schools for students?
Students move around the school in different ways when they enter secondary schooling. Secondary students generally change classroom teachers for each learning area and work in multiple classrooms every day. They have a much more structured timetable that requires movement each period. There is a greater focus on independent learning in high school with students assuming more responsibility for their own learning. They will have an increase in assessment items per term and are expected to become more responsible for their actions, their outcomes, their learning and their use of technology. On a very practical note, they have to master the use of a locker, including mastering use of the lock. This can be really tricky under time contraints between classes or sessions.
What are some of the challenges faced by your students during the transition?
While most students embrace the fun and excitement of new routines, they can find it challenging to adapt to the different expectations of a variety of teachers. Students receive a lot of information in the first weeks of high school and have to develop new organisational skills (very quickly) around their diary, timetable, study materials and locker access. With their increasing independence comes the challenge of making friends. Friendship groups change and students will often need to develop new, healthy relationships with their peers.
What are your top tips for parents in preparing their child for secondary school?
- Encourage children to try to solve their own problems and to develop resilience and coping skills for when things don’t go to plan.
- Get to know each one of their teachers, particularly their Homeroom teacher.
- Make time to speak with their child’s Pastoral Leader at least once a term and read the newsletter, emails and/or updates emailed by school staff to parents on a regular basis.
- Show interest and ask questions about school and have conversations with their child on a very regular basis throughout the year.
- Plan to attend as many presentations, information sessions etc, as they can so they have the same information as their child.
- Use a Growth Mindset for everything! Encourage passion and perseverance, encouraging the idea that hard work is key to improvement - persistence pays.
- Reassure them that although it may be challenging, it’s an exciting part of their learning journey and of growing up.