Having spent a very happy seven years at a small, caring village primary school, my 11-year-old daughter is about to embark on the next exciting but slightly terrifying stage of her life, she will be starting secondary school. She feels ready to begin a new chapter and is looking forward to meeting new people, but her biggest worry is that she will get lost in such a big environment.

There are have been several things that her future secondary school and I as a parent have done to prepare her for the changes and challenges ahead of her to make the transition as smooth as it can be.

Make the most of school induction days

My daughter has attended three induction days at her new school which has allowed her to get to know some of the children who will become an important part of her new life and who she will see every day. As a result of these taster days, she has already made friends and will recognise faces on her very first day. Making new friends and getting to know teachers has definitely made her feel happier.

Understand School Transport

I took the opportunity to make these induction days feel as close to the real thing as possible, for both her benefit and mine! This included catching the school bus home by herself (along with some friends). As a parent, I wanted to make sure I knew all the travel details to ensure that this first experience was a positive one. This involved finding out the exact bus route and where the collection and drop off points were. It also helped to find out in advance the exact amount of money she needed for the fare. I researched the bus number and what would be written on the front of the bus so that she knew as many of the details of her journey as possible.

We talked the bus route through together, and I made sure to ask her what she would do in different scenarios. For example, what would she do if she missed the bus or if she got off at the wrong stop by mistake? Although you can’t cover every single situation that might or might not happen, I felt she had a good understanding of what to expect and how to help herself should she experience any difficulties.

Familiarisation makes starting secondary school so much easier

To my delight, and relief, my daughter, completely embraced this whole adventure and thoroughly enjoyed her new found freedom without a hitch! She felt a real sense of achievement and feels that it is one less thing to worry about when she starts secondary school for real.

School Transport Tips

This might be worth a look if your child is planning a similar journey by themselves: Kids in the City: 10 Tips for Taking Public Transportation on Their Own

Keep it stress-free

I am keen to know what else I can do to make the changes facing my daughter as stress-free as possible. I have learned from friends who have been through the same experience a year ago that having spares of things can save a lot of unnecessary heartaches. Along with the more obvious items such as pens and pencils, a spare PE kit kept at school (in a locker) is a good idea. As children are trying to get to grips with a new timetable, they are bound to forget equipment at first but having ‘back-ups’ will help to smooth the way. Some spare money for emergencies might also be helpful should your child mislay lunch or bus money.  I have found this check list from WHSmith helpful when trying to think of everything that my daughter will need at school, and there is a lot! – School Check List

Information that I have found useful to know before my daughter starting secondary school includes finding out where she is expected to go the morning she arrives for her very first day. Also finding out what is for lunch beforehand is useful. You should be able to find a lunch menu for the week/month/term on the school website. Knowing this kind of information in advance might cut out some of the panics of those first-day nerves!

Keep learning

Lastly, something that my daughter has enjoyed doing during her summer holiday so far has been an assortment of fun quizzes. They include history, geography, maths and science questions just to keep her brain ticking over while not being in school. There is no pressure to get the answers right; it is just to get those cogs turning in the hope that starting back at school won’t be such a shock to the system!  This is a great website for fun quizzes for this age group –

My thinking behind these ideas is just to allow my daughter to have as many positive experiences of secondary school before actually starting as possible. I’ve tried to plan for the things that I can but also to let her know that it is ok to just work some things out as she goes along and to find out for herself what works for her and what doesn’t.

Enjoy the summer holidays!