Premier Education

10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for High School and Help them Settle In

Starting your first day at secondary school is intimidating. Older children look like giants, the fear of not making any new friends sets in; it’s enough to make any young 11-year-old feel like a fish out of water.

Many children will spend the last week of their summer holidays worried about all the changes ahead. The transition from primary to secondary school is a big change in a child’s life, but there are many things parents can do to help make it easier.

Making the jump from primary school to secondary school? Here are 10 ways to help your child prepare.

As parents, the idea of your child going off to start secondary school is almost as anxiety-inducing for you as it is for them! Helping your child prepare for the transition to high school goes a long way in soothing both their worries and your own.

These are ten ways to help ensure your child is ready for the change:

  1. Prepare for the first day of school
  2. Talk about new school jitters
  3. Get into a routine during the school holidays
  4. Get them involved in clubs and activities
  5. Familiarise them with public transport
  6. Consider whether it’s time for a mobile phone
  7. Give them a mature outlook
  8. Help them to manage their timetable
  9. Encourage your child to make new friends
  10. Keep an eye on their academic performance
Anchor Point: prepare-for-the-first-day

Do they have everything they’ll need?

It’s the last day of the school holidays, and you’re panicking trying to find shoes, lunch boxes and all manner of stationery in time for their fresh start at a new school the next day.

Being a parent naturally invites a bit of chaos, but avoiding any last-minute panic when getting your child ready will help them feel settled and prepared for their first day. From PE kits to protractors; making a list of everything they’ll need and checking them off will help you stay on top of things. While primary schools often provide plenty of the equipment pupils use, at secondary school teachers will expect pupils to bring their own stationery.

Make sure their uniform is laid out ready the night before, with a packed bag – and PE kit, if they need one – ready to go. Your child will feel confident and prepared to head to class, ready for a good first day at secondary school.

Anchor Point: new-school-jitters

Talk to them about new school jitters

You might be parents now, but you know exactly how it feels starting out at a new school. The first few days at secondary school are scary for kids, and some nerves are normal.

It’s a big step forward in a child’s life, but it can be made easier with a few tips from you, the parents! School jitters are normal – talk them through their worries, and encourage them to talk to you about anything that is concerning them.

If you encourage them to come forward with their issues, you will be able to get to the root of the problem quicker.

Anchor Point: get-into-a-routine

Start the school schedule in the summer holidays

Getting into the routine of early starts is worth the added bleary-eyed, caffeine-driven mornings. Parents sometimes need the alarm clock just as much as kids!

There’s no need to drag the kids out of bed at the crack of dawn all summer long, but a week before, or even just a few days, can help them get back into the habit of it in time for their first day.

Encouraging children to learn to manage their time and be responsible for themselves (as much as possible) in the morning helps them to mature; there may be some grumbling, but ultimately it will help them feel prepared for the day ahead. By getting ahead of the game with the term time schedule, those chaotic early morning starts will feel a little less hectic.

Anchor Point: clubs-and-activities

Get them involved in clubs and activities

Joining a club and getting involved in sports, activities and extra-curriculars has always been a great way to make new friends. It builds confidence and communication skills, improves fitness and focus, and forges strong bonds.

It’s great to get involved in clubs and activities after starting secondary school, but it is equally useful to start them beforehand. Premier Education offers a huge range of activities for young people to enjoy, from sporty clubs with gymnastics, football and basketball to the performing arts to holiday camps. All have a great focus on personal development and building skills and relationships; after all, a confident child is sure to find the new challenge of high school easier than an anxious one.

Children being coached in football
Anchor Point: using-public-transport

Catching the bus? Ensure your child is familiar with public transport

If your child is going to make their own way to school every morning, you can help ensure it is as straightforward as possible. Quickly enough, children will typically find a friend that also catches the bus, or may be lucky enough to have an old friend that lives in the same area. Most, though, will find that they have to make their journey alone, especially for the first time, which can be intimidating for young children.

Familiarity will help them overcome any fears. While the school bus is easier and safer than a regular bus – and kids will have a bus pass rather than paying for each trip – getting them used to catching the bus will help build confidence.

Anchor Point: mobile-phone

Consider purchasing your child a mobile phone

If you haven’t already given your child a mobile phone, the start of secondary school may be the right time to do so. Most pupils will communicate with a mobile, making it an important part of building social connections. It’s also a great way for parents to keep in touch with their children; especially if they are making their own way to and from school.

If you’re worried about the impact of a smart phone on family life, there are various ways to limit screen time and stay safe. A phone is a useful tool, but it shouldn’t get in the way of homework, real-life socialising or being active!

Anchor Point: give-a-mature-outlook

Give them a mature outlook

The jump in education from 5-11 and 11-16 is the first step to feeling more like a ‘grown-up’. Maturity levels are obviously higher the further up you go in this age group (or at least, they should be!) and 11-year-olds are likely to feel daunted by the gap.

To help them feel more mature and responsible – and gain confidence – you should build their knowledge of everyday topics like spending money, eating healthily and managing bills.

School activities rarely involve ‘real-life’ scenarios and information. For schools, teaching ideas of financial responsibility and the like to pupils falls to the wayside; teachers simply can’t squeeze it into the curriculum. But learning can continue once the school day has ended, and it doesn’t need to come from a teacher.

Premier Education, through the Game of Actual Life, breaks down essential topics like taxes and mortgages and makes them fun. By encouraging debate and applying lessons like maths to real-life situations, this programme boosts self-esteem, confidence and maturity levels; it’s a great way to teach kids some invaluable information they would otherwise miss.

Anchor Point: managing-school-timetables

Help them to manage their school timetable

A packed activity schedule and new responsibilities can feel overwhelming, but giving your child some tips on organisation and time management will make it seem easy.

Make a two-week timetable together in their log book or planner, using different colours to highlight their lesson plan, when homework is due etc. Breaking down their schedule like this makes it more digestible, and helps your child feel on top of things.

Children in class
Anchor Point: making-new-friends

Encourage your child to make new friends

With the transition to secondary school, many students will bring with them old friends from primary. For some kids, however, this isn’t the case – they may be starting somewhere completely new, or have grown apart from the group.

While easier said than done, helping your child to make new friends is often more about boosting their confidence than giving any actual advice. As mentioned previously, clubs and sports are a great way to boost their confidence and help your child find a good group of friends. Communication is also important; discover what is bothering them and you can begin to solve the issue.

Anchor Point: academic-performance

Keep an eye on academic performance

Starting high school is a game changer when it comes to the academic side of schooling. There’s a big step up in learning from primary to secondary, and it can be overwhelming for some students.

We’ve discussed the social aspect of the transition from primary to secondary school, but the academic one can be just as challenging; if not more so. From in-class learning to homework, there is an increase in expectations and complexity. Your child may look to other pupils and compare themselves in a negative light, or simply find comprehension difficult and tune out of lessons.

Any sign that they’re having issues should be addressed immediately. If you know your child is struggling you can tackle the problem early and speak to their teacher; teachers are there to help your child perform to the best of their ability, and will be ready with a solution.

How to prepare your child for high school

Managing the transition from primary school to secondary school isn’t easy. By following our tips – like thinking ahead with everything from uniform to planners, and encouraging your child out of their comfort zone, building their confidence – you will help them feel ready and eager for this big change.