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7 tips to help your child transition smoothly to secondary school

Primary 6 to Secondary 1…..A hardship or an adventure?

If you have experienced the apprehension of stepping into a formidable secondary school building or if you have seen the look of intimidation on the faces of your children as they spin excuses to avoid going to school, then you are ready for this blog post….

The transition from Primary to Secondary education can be a very tough one and is not a very pleasant experience, for the fainthearted. To go from 4 subjects to a gruelling 11 subjects, some of which your kids have never encountered before in their lives, is no easy task. However, with the right support and training, they can experience the success needed to motivate them to build the right attitude and rise to the occasion.

Here are 7 tips to help them cope with the harrowing transition.

1. Get them the learning support they need, to catch up with their schoolwork.

It is quite normal for children to procrastinate, particularly with assignments that they find exceptionally challenging. They are suddenly faced with more than double the number of subjects they were used to in primary school. What’s worse, even the subjects they were already accustomed to, have suddenly mutated to become barely recognisable and threatening. Unfortunately procrastinating and delaying the inevitable can actually become a vicious cycle that can lead to demoralising failure. As they find it hard to do well on these assignments, they will continue to do them last or not do them at all. This will deny them the opportunity to improve and enjoy better grades, keeping them consistently discouraged.

To break this cycle, check on them and identify their weaker subjects. Then, provide the support they would need to improve on, or even excel in that subject. That’s where Learning Point comes in. We will help bridge the gap, ensure that they are functioning at their optimal level and make sure that they experience the success they deserve.

2. Keep communication lines open

Talk to your child frequently and provide opportunities for them to share their troubles, worries and concerns. The general complaint among parents is, “…my child refuses to share his feelings about school.” Most children will simply shrug or respond with an “Okay” when asked how school was. The fact is, they may not quite like dwelling on something that bothers them and would rather distract themselves with other things. One way around this problem is to talk about your own day and see if your child follows your example. It may not work at once, but it would be a good way to start. Eventually you will see him or her opening up as well.

3. Listen without judgment

Your child may also be reluctant to talk about his transition woes as he is afraid of being judged. Nobody likes being told that they are whining or lacking resilience or that they should be trying harder rather than complaining. The best way to encourage your child to share his or her problems is by listening patiently and asking neutral, non-judgmental questions.

A non-judgmental question would look like this:

“Why do you think that happened?”

A judgmental question would look like this:

“Are you sure you were paying attention?”

Asking non-judgmental questions assures your child that the conversation is not going to get him or anyone else into trouble.

4. Get to know your child’s new friends / peers

In secondary school, your child’s friends are his new family. Think about how much time your child spends in school. It is inevitable that his peers are now his new family. They will affect and influence him a great deal. It is good to know who has access to your child and how they are likely to impact his moods and attitudes. One way would be to invite them over, perhaps by suggesting your home as the venue for their projects and group assignments. Getting to know your child’s peers could help you pre-empt their behaviours, motivation levels and even grades.

5. Teach Your Child Time Management

Effective time management can make the difference between an A grade and a B grade. As impressive as it is to be a multitasking guru, your child may me missing out on crucial information in their schoolwork if they are watching TV while doing their homework. Another favourite activity among your teenagers is playing smart phone games, that they claim can train them to be strategic thinkers. Do not fall for this ruse. Mobile games are a distraction and there is no way kids can focus on their schoolwork and make a “master move” in their phone game at the same time.

6. Resilience is Key

It is imperative that children learn to be resilient when they make the transition between Primary Six and Secondary One. It is very likely that your child will experience more than his fair share of failure within the first month of secondary school. He may not get the CCA (Co-Curricular Activity) of his choice. He may struggle with new subjects as well as the familiar subjects that are now being studied in ‘uncomfortable’ depth. These are all part and parcel of life and should be dealt with in a resilient way.

Teach them to count their blessings, to see missed opportunities as blessings in disguise, to trust that new opportunities will always surface whey they least expect them and that they must be ready to grab them when they do. Failure is nothing but delayed success and will teach your children to be diligent, courageous and flexible.

7. It is Absolutely Fine to be the Bad Cop.

Most parents like you, work so hard that you barely have time to see and/or interact with your children. This may fill you with feelings of guilt, which in turn compels you to overcompensate with your child by letting him get away with things such as, sacking a tutor that he claims is too boring, too animated, too strict, not strict enough, cold as a zombie or as torturous as the terminator. Hold back! It’s fine to be the bad cop and investigate the matter thoroughly before making a decision. Your child may be losing a very effective tutor or a spot in an excellent enrichment centre like Learning Point. Just be mindful that your hasty decision doesn’t leave him with more time to play computer games, and hurtling down the path of a fail grade that he does not deserve.

These tips are far from exhaustive and I am sure you have some that you may have learnt the hard way too. Feel free to share them here so that others can benefit from your experience as well. An African proverb says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Let us be part of your village.


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