#1. Be prepared for new “Gods”
If you found it hard to take it that your child adored his/her teacher in Primary School, well, it gets worse. The new gods are peers and in second place, for girls, the young handsome male teacher! Whatever class mates are doing he/she will have to do and if you think you are going to have a lot of influence from here on in, think again!
#2. Schedules are everything
Children are all different and while some make the adjustment to secondary school easily, others find it hard to adjust to different class mates, different teachers, endless class changes, and above all the extra homework. Schedules are everything: the class timetable, extra-curricular timetable and homework timetable.
Some children will want help with this, others definitely not. Undoubtedly a regular homework timetable is essential for success in secondary school. The school will most probably arrange for a study skills talk at some stage during your child’s school career and there are a number of providers of this service around.
#3. Set up your home calendar/schedule now!
You will not be able to survive without it! It will be hard to keep on top of the afterschool activities, the ones associated with school, the ones your child participated in before secondary school, especially as schools assume (rightly) that life revolves around them.
They might not give you a whole lot of notice regarding the football training, basketball matches, the inter-school debates etc. And if your child is that way inclined he/she will be expected to and will want to participate fully in school activities.
#4. Be prepared for clashes
Often there is a clash with the music / dance / drama classes that you have paid a fortune for at the beginning of the year. Now is the time to check with the school if after school activities clash with regular extra-curricular activities your child participates in and adjust times / days if you can before the start of the school year and save yourself a lot of stress and juggling.
#5. Pay attention to attendance
Secondary schools pay enormous attention to attendance, many attach such importance to it they have end of year “rewards” just for this. So the odd “sickie” is not advised, especially as your child might suffer genuine illness during the year.
So a routine for sleep, meals, and a healthy diet is just as important as for primary school. If a parent is having difficulty with this he/she can contact a Welfare Officer.
#6. Take your time when buying books and uniforms
You will have been given the list for books and uniform at this stage and many will have it all bought and put away nicely for the start of the new school year. Schools threaten all sorts of things for non-compliance on uniform but practices in schools vary. Far be it from us to encourage non-compliance, however check out what local practice is before purchasing expensive items that might end up in a charity shop.
On that note it is worth checking local charity shops as they often have a supply of school uniforms, generally in good condition.
Cheap school books can be obtained at www.NationalBookExchange.ie.
#7. Label everything!
Put your child/teens name on absolutely everything, (get it embroidered on if you can) if you want your child/teen to continue to wear the track suit top or shirt that you bought at the beginning of the year. (While the author was in the shop replacing an inexpensive lost shirt, I overheard a mother ordering her third school coat in a year, ouch!).
#8. Be prepared for the new relationships
Moving to secondary school means new relationships and new friends but if your child is finding it difficult to adjust, or has bullying issues, make an appointment with the Principal / Year Head immediately. Schools nowadays are very well equipped to deal with such issues and most make an effort to resolve problems to everybody’s satisfaction.
For information and advice contact the National Anti-Bullying Coalition.
#9. Time for more responsibility
Now is time to give them a bit more responsibility. Encourage them to get themselves up & out as they may start earlier than younger siblings. Give them a set of keys if they are coming home later and independently.
Related : Sheila O’Malley shares her 6 Tips for Parents for the transition to secondary school.
#10. Some useful resources
- National Parents Council – Post Primary, www.npcpp.ie
- “Moving Up” From Primary to Post-Primary, A Parents’ Roadmap, by John Stevenson, available from your school or from www.booklink.ie
- Practical parenting tips from Sheila O’Malley at www.practicalparenting.ie
- Courses on Career Coaching & Life Coaching for Parents are available at www.coachingpotential.com
Do you have a tip for a parent of a child starting secondary school? Share it in the comments below.