If you currently have a child in Year 6 then you’ll already be thinking about the transition from junior to senior school, which naturally brings up a mixture of emotions, with nerves and excitement at play for many children.
Fear of the unknown will include missing friends from junior school, the new journey to school, mixing with bigger kids, fears of bullying, making the leap up academically, getting used to new teachers and physically navigating their way around a bigger school.
With growing up today seemingly harder than ever, we are all now starting to see increased wellbeing support for our young people. During May 2021 there was a £79 Million Government commitment announced to support the NHS with mental health provision for children and young people in England. More than £17 Million has been allocated by the Government for schools and colleges, with the commitment to support mental health and wellbeing initiatives as we all recover from the challenges of the global pandemic – Covid-19.
This all means that while our children face challenging times, there’s now a seismic shift to address the critical need for ongoing mental health support for them. For most schools, the direct impact good support has on the success of our children, and ultimately our schools, cannot be underestimated.
Here are our top six tips on a smooth transition from Year 6 to Year 7, and how you can help your child cope with new school nerves:
- Be their emotional anchor – By providing a solid, stable and healthy emotional anchor from which children can feel safe, supported, confident and secure to explore their new experiences will make all the difference. Providing a good emotional basis, spending time with your child and shielding them from adult and emotionally fraught adult conversations is also important in fulfilling the role of anchor.
- Observe and reassure – your child may not even recognise when they’re suffering from anxiety or may struggle to put their feelings into words. There may be signs you can pick up on such as your child having issues sleeping or changes at mealtimes.
Children may express their fears with questions such as “Will I make new friends?”, “Will the work be much harder?” and “Will my teacher like me?”. You’ll be able to reassure your child by reminding them of positive experiences, such as a recent taster or induction day where they were bound to have some exciting memories while they were being introduced to their new environment, new routines, peers and teachers.
- Encouraging independence – help them move towards a teen identity, by increasing responsibilities, speaking to them in a more mature way and being positive when they act maturely. There are bound to be a few bumps in the road along the way when your pre-teen becomes emotional and tired at times, so you’ll need to exercise an extra level of patience.
- Practice the journey to school – thoughts of navigating a new route to school on top of the whole new experience of school itself can add in another layer of stress. This can be reduced if you practice a couple of ‘dry-runs’. During the school holidays, you could suggest making an adventure out of talking the school journey together and you could possibly combine this with a reward at the end, like a visit to a cafe for a nice treat.
- Create a homework station – having a dedicated space for your child to work, ideally with access to a computer and printer, craft materials, a place for books and stationery will help provide structure, allow them to focus on homework and feel more grown up.
- Build a bond with the school – whether it’s joining a WhatsApp group with fellow parents, attending sporting events and supporting from the side-lines, or even joining the PTA, if you have time. Even if your child won’t admit it, they will no doubt appreciate your additional level of support and engagement.
Young Minds resource as part of the ‘Find Your Feet’ programme
Happy Confident Kids run Senior School Transition workshops in schools nationally and we can also coach individually on a 1-2-1 basis. To find out more or to book, call us on 0333 358 0390 or say firstname.lastname@example.org