Of course it’s not, and I am here to give schools parents and children some top tips to help prepare for the big move. Unfortunately it is true that there will be very few schools offering Induction Days in the way they have always tried to in the past. It may be that small scale visits do go ahead for pupils or families that really need that extra level of support but for the majority of children, the first time they step foot through the door of their new secondary school will either be during the summer or even in September.
So Transition is cancelled, right? Completely wrong. Preparation for secondary school does not need to be the sole responsibility of the secondary school that the children will join. Everyone has a part to play! I have collected a few ideas on how different stakeholders can do this, all of which are tried and tested methods. Have a go, and if you have some success, let me know about it! These activities are all based on research I have completed with year 7 pupils over a number of years. They have told me that the simplest things have caused the biggest problem, the time between now and September can be used to bridge the gaps in the children experiences.
How can Primary Schools help?
- Ask the children to keep all belongings with them whenever they leave the classroom! This doesn’t need to be every day from now on but the occasional day when they have to have this level of responsibility for the their belongings will help them get into the habit they will need next year.
- Stop ringing the bell and collecting for the end of play and lunchtime. This can be more of a logistic problem if they share this time/space with other year groups but this is something the children have to get used to, and this can only happen at school.
- Regularly change the days that homework needs to be handed in, and limit the reminders. Once in secondary school they will have a homework timetable and it will not be as simple as it currently is.
How can Parents help?
- Encourage your child to keep a bag (even an empty carrier bag) with them whenever they leave the house. They must return with the same bag. Hopefully, if they can get into the habit of remembering that bag, they are less likely to forget their school bag/coat/shoes etc.. (Fingers crossed!)
- Do the journey to school! Start slowly with walking/getting the bus etc.. with your child. Build it slowly up to having them do this by themselves. Follow them a few times, then meet them at the final destination. Remember – do this backwards too, children have told me they were able to get to school easily enough but the journey home ‘looked different’!
- Stop calling your child at meal times. Instead tell them dinner/lunch/breakfast will be ready at XXXX and expect them to be sat ready to eat at that exact time. This encourages children to be more responsible with their time management.
How can Secondary schools help?
- Provide a who’s who of Key staff on websites. Not just the facts about their subjects but a little bit about them as people. During Induction days children have the opportunity to meet staff as individuals. Without this opportunity staff can still seem to be scary strangers!
- Ask about the children, from the children and families. Schools are fantastic about asking the adults all about the children but how about getting the lowdown form the horses mouth and those who know them best!
- Put little challenges on websites, small activities that encourage your future pupils to complete tasks that they can send to you in advance. Then you have examples of pupils work that can support you when you are looking for academic ability. They may not be formal pieces of writing but the soft intelligence they can give you about a child is invaluable.
How can the children help themselves?
- Ask your adult at home if you can have more responsibility. Can you be the one who is responsible for making sure your uniform being ready (this will help you get used to knowing what you need)? Can you help with the shopping? Be given a budget to get a small number of items (this will help you start to budget when you have to choose your lunches each day).
- Do your homework on the day it is given to you in year 6. This is the best way to make sure you prepare for lots of homework in secondary school. You have to get used to working in the afternoon/evening and not just at weekends.
- Write an About Me biography! It doesn’t need to be very long or even detailed. When you get to secondary school though you will be asked (a lot) to introduce yourself; to tell the class/teacher/group/partner something about yourself. Don’t let that worry you, plan it! Think about who you are, what do you like etc. It may sound silly but when asked on the spot, it can be quite daunting to think about this. So plan ahead! What do you want your new teachers and friends to know about you!
Transition to secondary school is not an activity that can or should be taken lightly. Everyone involved in a child’s life has a part to play in preparing them and these are just some simple, quick wins to be able to help the children through this period. Just because there will be very little face to face connection between schools and children, does not mean that Transition is ruined for another year. There are so many things that can and do affect the child’s experience, and much of that can still be prepared for.