The first big event that many kids face, as thinking beings, is their move from primary to secondary school. The change can be a frightening prospect for some kids. But, parents can help to ease the change and lessen their child’s worries. This article looks briefly at the reasons the change can be so scary and what parents can do to ease the transition. Giving your child a primary school leavers hoodie at the end of Year 6 is just one of the helpful tips!
Changing schools can be a major relief, serious trauma, or anything in between for a child. Your child’s view of the world, and of themself, can have a big impact on how they see it.
The move from nursery school to primary school
The move from nursery school up to primary school rarely proves to be a problem. Often, the kids have not yet grasped the issues facing them about building friendships and establishing themselves in their peer group. So, in many cases, they move to primary school without the concerns and angst which may face them when they next move schools.
From primary to secondary – is a ‘bigger’ move
By the time your child is facing a move from primary to secondary, they have developed a very different view of the world. They have probably experienced failed friendships and awkward social interactions at primary school, and they recognise that moving school could bring on more of the same.
It doesn’t help that they have begun to form a self-view too. Whether it is a positive self-view is likely to be key to how they will view the school move. Often, the kids with a positive self-image will view a school move as an opportunity. On the other hand, kids with a neutral or negative self-image may view it as a threat.
As well as the changes a school move brings to the kids’ social circles, other factors can cause them concern, including:
- Size of the school
- Scary teachers
- The change from being the biggest in the school to the smallest
- New subjects
These factors combined are worrying for many children.
What can parents do to help their child?
Parents can do several things which can help their child. Some are quick hits and others are longer-term approaches.
The long-term approaches come down to good parenting practices over many years, including:
- Help your child to build self-confidence
- Let them know they are supported, always
- Encourage them to enjoy learning and school life
We will not consider these in any more depth in this article. Plenty of books, websites, and other sources of information and support are available to parents to help in this area. If you don’t remember how you handled the change of schools, ask your parents. You might hear some funny stories.
Short-term methods to help
Shorter-term methods and quick hits which parents can use to help their children face the transition from primary school to secondary include:
- Talk about the upcoming change positively
- Support the child in understanding the differences they might face
- Create routines that help them prepare for the new school
- Establish supportive relationships with the child’s friends who are moving to the same school
- Help them keep in touch with friends who are going to a different secondary school
- Make the end of Year 6 something to remember by celebrating it
- Commemorate the end of their time at the school with the purchase of a leaver’s hoodie
How leaver’s hoodies help with the move?
Kids in their last year of primary school ‘know’ that at the end of term they are going to get a hoodie. They have seen older siblings with one, or their friends have brothers or sisters who have had one. It isn’t a surprise. For the child, it is an expectation and they look forward to getting their hoodie. It will be unique to them, no one else in their family is going to have the same.
They probably don’t know it yet, but the hoodie will be a reminder of their time and their friends at the school. It will evoke happy memories. Putting on the hoodie will take the child to a ‘happy place’. A place where they were the big kids, where they knew everything and everybody, where they felt happy and secure.
Parents who talk their kids through the upcoming experiences at secondary school often make the connection between looking forward—to new friends, new groups, and learning new things—to the past. Pointing out that primary school wasn’t necessarily all fun at the start, but look at it now. You have a hoodie to celebrate the good times you have had. By the time you finish secondary school, you will be in just the same position. King or Queen of the school and firmly tied to a group of friends, many of whom you have yet to meet.
With luck, your child will enjoy their secondary school experience just as much as their time at primary. But, if they find they are struggling in the early days, occasionally wearing their leaver’s hoodies can take them back to a ‘happy place’.
The hoodie is important, but…
We think the hoodie is important to the kids who get one. It definitely provides an anchor to a happy place and time. But we recognise that the support of family and friends is more important to the successful move from primary to secondary school. Well-supported children have a much easier time of any big event in their lives than kids with less of a support network.
Getting your child a leaver’s hoodie isn’t magically going to make the school move wonderful, but it provides support to make it better than it might have been without.