Nutrition – Fuel for the Brain
A good breakfast will provide them with the energy they need to face the day ahead. Low sugar, wholegrains, fruit and protein-packed breakfasts are best.
Lunch will also be different in secondary school. Your child may have access to a canteen and they will often be allowed to leave school during their lunch break giving them access to other shops or cafés where they can buy lunch.
For those that want to bring their lunch to school, a good lunch box and water bottle are essential. And check out these flasks which will keep soup, pasta or other healthy meals warm until lunch break.
If they go straight to study, pack a snack to have between school finishing and study beginning. And once they get home, sit together to eat so you can all catch up on how everyone’s day went.
Heavyweight Bag and Books
The one thing I really wasn’t prepared for when my girls went into secondary school was the weight of their school bags. It is essential they get a sturdy bag that fits well and helps distribute the weight evenly.
If the school offers lockers, sign up for one. It will save them having to carry all their books to and from school each day. Remember to label each book. My girls usually pick a page within each book to write their name on. They use the same page number for all their books! That way if they go missing they can usually track them down.
Most children will receive homework in several subjects each night, so they will need to bring books home for this. A friend suggested that I buy a 2nd copy of some of the heavier text books, even a second hand copy, so they could have those at home and leave the other copy in school. We did it for a couple of subjects they regularly get homework in.
Another top tip is to place all the books and copies needed for a subject in a zipped wallet. That way they just reach into their locker or bag and they have everything together for that subject. Often there is not much time between going from one class to another, so being able to grab and go saves them searching around in bags and lockers for the relevant items.
For parents, the cost of the first year books can be daunting, but remember, in most cases those books will last until 3rd year and the booklist for 2nd and 3rd year is usually much reduced both in cost and items needed. Buy school books early to avail of discounts and to ensure stock as popular text books can be difficult to get as back to school time approaches.
Create a Space to Work
Your child will need a dedicated place to study at home, preferably one without distractions! Stock up on stationery for school and home. From pens, pencils and highlighters to refill pads and notebooks, having everything at hand helps them get straight into work.
To make this space even better, get your child to help you design it by choosing a desk, chair and other items to personalise it.
Encourage Them to Sign Up for School Activities
Friends will play a much larger role in your teen’s life as they transition through secondary school and it can be a daunting prospect for them starting off, particularly if they aren’t attending secondary with their friends from primary. And although they may not realise it yet, the friends they make during this time will often be friends for life, so they need to choose wisely.
Every school has clubs, after school activities and groups that children can get involved in. They range from sports teams to debating, drama and much more. Encourage your child to sign up to some of these as it is a great way to meet like minded individuals and make new friends – and also a great opportunity to try something new that they may have an interest in.
Use the School Website or App
The school website or app helps keep you up-to-date with school activities, holidays and other events. You can also view school policies, download forms for when your child may be absent, etc. Many schools also offer an online payment facility for things like insurance, school trips, etc.
In primary school the children would have received notes about days off and staff meetings well in advance, but that is not always the case in secondary school. Your child may know about upcoming staff meeting or days off or early finishes, but they don’t always remember to tell you! The school website or app is the place to go for all this information.
Support Your Child
This is a new phase for all of you that will take a bit of time to get used to. From juggling deadlines and learning how to study to having more freedom and having to be more responsible and independent, there will be an adjustment period for you and your child.
Be sure they know that you are there to support them and hopefully it will all go smoothly.