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Preparing your child to start secondary school in the summer holidays

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Going to secondary school can be a big step for your child, but there are things you can do to help them feel more prepared for when their first day arrives. And what better time to start than now ­– the start of the summer school holidays.

From giving them more responsibilities to getting them into a routine, Rossall School lists some of the things you can do to get your child ready and prepared for secondary school.

Talk about the changes

Starting secondary school can bring about a lot of change for your child – moving from the top class of primary school to the bottom class of secondary school, alone, can be overwhelming and scary. So it’s a good idea to make time to talk about the changes they’ll face and let your child know what they can expect. For instance, there’ll be more challenging lessons and more difficult homework to do each day. They’ll also have a timetable to follow, with lessons in different classrooms, and might struggle to find their way round. Talking about these things can help them feel more aware and prepared when their first day arrives.  They may be worried at the prospect of writing essays, but practice makes perfect and they'll achieve so much by doing their homework themselves.  By encouraging them and letting them do their best instead of pressuring them too much, you will stop them searching on Google for write my paper for me cheap to get someone else to write their essay!  (Don't do that - it's cheating!)

Give them more responsibility

With secondary school comes more responsibility, so it’s a good idea to give them more during the summer holidays. You could give them extra tasks to do each week, like washing up after the family meal, cleaning their bedroom or washing the car. To help them get used to following a school timetable, try creating one that marks out their weekly tasks and chores and see if they can stick to it.   

Have them join an activities club

A big part of starting secondary school is growing in confident and making new friends. Getting them to join a sports or activities club during the summer holidays can help build up their confidence and their social skills, while getting them used to making new friends. Many children in a club their age will also be starting secondary school, so it’s good for them to socialise with people who will have similar worries and be experiencing the same things.

Look at the school website together

It’s a good idea to look at the school website with your child, so they can get familiar with things like the school’s layout, a typical school day, and the procedures they will have to follow. It’s also worth you both reading up on things like lockers and how the canteen works, so they know what to expect.

Shop together for what they need

When it comes to buying things like school equipment and stationery, don’t be tempted to just go out and shop for it all yourself. Instead, sit with your child and make a list of what they need, based on the items the school requests, and go out and shop for it together. Getting them to pick out what they need can help them feel familiar and comfortable with the different things they will use each day, as well as help make them feel more responsible.  Shop for new school name labels if their junior school ones are a bit too kiddy.

Get them into a routine

Towards the end of the summer holidays, it’s a good idea to help get your child ready for those early mornings by getting them into a good routine. Try setting a standard time for them to go to bed and get up each day and make sure they stick to it. Also, make sure they follow a morning routine, such as getting showered, then dressed, then have breakfast, as they would on a typical school day. Perhaps also plan a few days out for which they have to pack a bag and a packed lunch, so they can get used to having everything ready for school and leaving on time.

Plan their journey to school together

If your child will be taking the bus to school, try planning their journey with them. Look at things like the route they will take, the buses they’ll need, and where they get on and off, so they can become familiar with it. It’s important to make sure they’re comfortable with their journey to and from school before their first day. So try out the route and travel on the bus together, a few days before they start.  They may take their mobile phone to school, so talk about that and how they can use it to contact you after school if there are any issues, but how to keep them mobile safe at school too.

Doing things like this in the summer holidays can make your child feel more comfortable, confident and prepared for secondary school and the challenges it can bring, come September.