The end of year 6 and starting year 7
My daughter is rapidly hurtling towards the end of Year 7 which feels like madness! After what felt like a really long and slow build-up to the transition from small and safe primary school to big and scary secondary school, Year 7 has flown by at a frightening speed and the years spent at primary school feel a very long way away.
Now I don’t mind admitting that I am by nature one of life’s stress heads. And looking back it feels like there were so many things to stress out about: what size uniform? long sleeve, short sleeve or mid sleeve shirt? Should she catch the school bus by herself? Would it be better to have existing friends in her tutor group or would a completely fresh start be better? How would she manage to lug around such a massive rucksack, with what feels like bricks in the bottom, all day? Would she get lost on such a large school site? You’re starting to get the idea of what the inside of my worried head looked like! (These thoughts didn’t even include my concerns about the jump in secondary school workload and teacher expectations, which was I was secretly freaking out about on a whole new level!) And all the time I was trying not to let my daughter see that I was in fact twice as anxious as she was about the whole idea of her starting at secondary school.
All in all, I built it up to be one massive ball of stress that made my head want to explode, it really was exhausting. Well, eight months in and I am happy to report that my daughter has managed all of these (my) ‘anxieties’ and has taken everything else thrown at her in her stride. She did get lost but she worked it out for herself and it was no big deal. She also hasn’t once mentioned those bricks in her bag! You will be pleased to know that I too have relaxed and I can’t even begin to imagine her back in her old primary school.
I can honestly say that going from a very small primary school to attending a large comprehensive school has been one of the best experiences my daughter has had. As a parent, it has been amazing to stand back and watch the transformation from that tiny child to this young person. I have noticed that the change in school has allowed her to feel confident in her own abilities and has given the opportunity for her to put into practice all of the skills and learning that she has achieved and worked hard for during her first 11 years at school.
It turns out that she was ready for the move and to face the new challenges ahead. Whilst her primary school was great at providing a safe and happy environment, she just hadn’t had the opportunity to really spread her wings and to experience and demonstrate what she was truly capable of.
Making the most of Year 7
Since starting Year 7 my daughter has enjoyed joining the cross-country club and competing for her school. She has taken part in the school production of Legally Blonde, the musical, and she will be off on her first school trip abroad in the next couple of weeks. She has made new friends, developed positive relationships with her teachers, catches the bus by herself and has so far not handed a single piece of homework in late! She has tackled all of this with maturity, a fantastic sense of humour and with the help of her friends, old and new.
Being part of a larger school community has meant that my daughter has been able to shake off the out-dated image of her growing self. She is no longer seen or treated as one of the youngest children wearing little pink specs’, as she was when she first joined reception class, but has been given the chance to be who she wants to be, she has been given a clean slate and a fresh, new start. And although I fully expect some wobbles along the way, I feel that starting secondary school has encouraged her to embrace all the things that she enjoys, to work out who she is now and what she wants in the future and how important it is to grab every opportunity that comes her way. Year 7 has been the perfect start to this next exciting stage of her life.
All children are different
As an ex-secondary school teaching assistant, I understand that this isn’t everyone’s experience when starting Year 7. All children are different and secondary school is a massive leap from everything that is familiar to them at primary school. It is perfectly normal for children and their parents to feel anxious at this time and there is plenty of good advice out there should you find yourself with lots of questions. What I do know is that the majority of children make the change from little school to big school without too many hiccups along the way.
Some children take slightly longer to adjust and all children need different levels of support at different times during secondary school and this is absolutely ok. But for me and my daughter, I think that I spent too much time worrying about the stuff that actually didn’t turn out to be worth all the stress. So my advice would be to just enjoy the ‘homework-free’ summer holiday between finishing primary school and starting secondary school with your lovely, budding young person. It’s fine to feel anxious, just don’t drive yourself slightly nuts like I did.
7 Useful Things To Know When Starting Year 7:
1. School Bus
If your child plans to catch the bus after school, find out where it departs from and which is the correct queue to wait in.
Take a photo of your child’s lesson timetable on both their phone and yours. This way you will both always have a copy to hand.
3. School Website
You will find that you don’t have the same face to face contact with your child’s teachers at secondary school. So take the time to get to know your way around the school’s website. For example, they might display upcoming school events such as non-uniform days, the lunch menu, which staff member to contact to find out specific information, copies of all school letters, term dates, correct uniform and PE equipment. You may also be given the opportunity to sign up for their electronic newsletter. This is something that I have found hugely useful as I get it sent directly to my mobile. Something else that has been helpful has been to follow my daughter’s school on Twitter. If this is a service that your child’s school offers it will provide you with important school news quickly, such as school closures when it snows!
Familiarise yourself with how homework is set. Find out if your child will have a homework diary/log book that they fill in or if the school sets it online through a platform such as Show My Homework. Either way keeping on top of what homework your child has been set, and when it is due to be handed in, will save you a lot of heartache and panic in the long run. Your child might be given loose worksheets to complete from the teacher and it is very useful for your child to have some kind of folder to keep them safe a) to prevent them from getting damaged and b) so they don’t get lost.
If your child is offered a locker to store their property in, make sure they know where it is located and which number it is! It is also worth thinking about the logistics of using one. Depending on where it is, will they have time to get to their locker and then to their lesson without being late? My daughter has found that the easiest thing to do is to make a trip to your locker during break and lunch times rather than between lessons.
6. Be organized
It might sound obvious but encourage your child to pack their school bag the night before. In our experience, it is much better to have the panic of not being able to find the correct book/piece of homework the night before rather than in the morning when time is against you! My daughter always leaves any extra bags she needs (cooking ingredients, PE kit etc) for the following day by the front door to reduce the risk of her forgetting something.
7. Be Organized
If you can find a spare one, clear a shelf, a drawer or cupboard which can be solely designated to store your child’s exercise and textbooks. If your child gets into the habit of always storing their books in this one place they are less likely to ‘lose’ anything and life will be easier for everyone! It is also a good idea to hang on to any completed exercise books as they are really useful when it comes to revising for tests and the teacher asks them to revise everything they have learned so far this term.
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