Supporting The Transition From Primary to Secondary School | Jigsaw.ie

The transition from primary to secondary school

The transition from primary to secondary school

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Moving from primary school to secondary school is an exciting time for many. But for young people and those around them, it can also be an anxious time.

In this article we will discuss how best to support young people while they are making this transition. As a parent, there is a lot you can do to support their mental health during this process.

 

young woman holding up cardboard dialogue box

Independence

For a lot of young people beginning secondary school is a huge life event. It can symbolise entrance into young adulthood.

three young people wearing backpacks walking away from camera

Why the transition can be difficult

For a lot of young people beginning secondary school is a huge life event. It can symbolise entrance into young adulthood.
Often seen as having great social significance, it can be the start of a more independent life.

They are also leaving an important part of their lives behind and whether or not they are conscious of it, endings can be difficult. This transition can be difficult for parents/guardians too. It is a change in routine for the household, which often comes with its own challenges.

It can bring more financial pressure, as books and supplies are even more expensive than at primary school level.

2 women sitting on couch with cups in hands

Listening

When a young person knows that they are being listened to, they will be far more likely to be open about what is worrying them.

Talking about change

For anyone that is going through a difficult time being heard is important. When a young person knows that they are being listened to, they will be far more likely to be open about what is worrying them. Active listening techniques can help this process.

Change can bring up a range of feelings, sometimes all at once. Acknowledge whatever your young person is experiencing; be it excitement, fear, worry, confusion, or curiosity. Let them know it’s OK to feel any or all of these things.

Statements like ‘I hear you, you’re worried about making friends’ or ‘I can see that you are scared about the workload’ Statements like these can be the start of helping them move through their experience.

Starting conversations around these types of topics can be hard. It is important to give yourself and your young person time and space so that you can find the right moment to have these conversations. Some young people may express themselves through their behaviour, so paying attention to any cues of struggle can help you both get a better insight.

Support

There are practical things you can do to support your young person during this transition

4 young people sitting down chatting

Making the transition easier

Here are a few practical things that you can do to support your young person during this transition from primary to secondary school:

group of young people sitting on the ground taking notes

Strengths

Focus on their strengths

During a time of change, while it is important to talk about what may be causing worry and anxiety, it is also important to balance this with something positive.

Statements like ‘you are good at making friends’ or ‘one of your strengths is getting yourself organised’ can help your young person get motivated in a constructive way.

Encouraging the following aspects in your young person has been shown to help transitions:

  • Resourcefulness
  • Resilience
  • Strategies to deal with challenges
  • Independence and self-belief
  • Skills relating to others such as listening actively, being tolerant and co-operation
  • A sense of contribution to school and community.

Positive

During a time of change, while it is important to talk about what may be causing worry and anxiety, it is also important to balance this with something positive.

closed fist with lightening bolts

Build a new routine

One way in which you can help ease feelings of anxiety is to try and establish a new routine. You can discuss this with your young person so that at least there is an amount of certainty when it comes to the beginning of the new year.

Settling back into a routine, studying and managing a number of expectations is a lot of change. Sharing what you’ve noticed about their ability to adapt can help young people see strengths they may not have noticed themselves.

 

alarm clock and eye mask

Sleep

Good sleep hygiene can be a really simple way to ensure that everyone is well resourced.

Sleep hygiene

Good sleep hygiene can be a really simple way to ensure that everyone is well resourced.

There can be a certain amount of resistance to the simple changes that can lead to better sleep – but they’ve been proven to work.

This animation was developed for us by students in the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dún Laoghaire. It outlines what might be getting in the way of having a good night’s sleep and what can be done about it.

rows of desk in classroom

Relationships

By having more contact with parents/guardians, teachers learn more about students’ needs and their home environment.

Talk to the school

Establishing a good relationship with your young person’s school is good for everyone. By having more contact with parents/guardians, teachers learn more about students’ needs and their home environment.

By keeping an open conversation going with your young person’s school it ensures you are kept in the loop as to how your child is developing.

Opportunity

While change can seem overwhelming, beginning secondary school offers opportunity for new beginnings.

two hands reaching towards each other

 

While change can seem overwhelming, beginning secondary school offers opportunity for new beginnings. Helping your young person prepare for and embrace this change will have a big impact on their overall school experience.

We have included a few downloadable PDF’s here that might help you and your young person:

 

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