Top Tips for Sending Children To Secondary School
It is a huge step to take yourself to secondary, especially for those who have to catch public transport independently. The transition can be very smooth with a few tips that I learnt from mine heading out the door on their own.
Try and have a dry run in the holiday where you shadow them on the route they will take and then meet them at the other end when they take a solo journey This can be done with friends and a treat lunch on the other side to get them excited about where the next 7 years will be spent.
Discuss alternative rail and bus and routes that can get them to and from school. Public transport can be cancelled and having another option to navigate is ideal, although not all areas will have this luxury.
Sometimes busses break down, trains terminate before the stop they need. Plan for these curve balls by printing out a paper map of the local area showing their bus stops and the route alternatives in relation to their home and school. They may not always have mobile signal or battery charge, to navigate their way home or to school, via mobile signal, if the bus breaks down.
Provide a bus/after school snack and a refillable water bottle. The day is very long for some, so an extra piece of fruit or their favourite snack bar stored at the bottom of their bag can help bridge a 1pm lunch and 4:30-5pm return home.
Have a key left with a neighbour or in a safe box, if your child gets home before you do and has left their key indoors.
Texting their whereabouts going to and from school gives you peace of mind and also helps you to call in and report them late for attendance purposes, if it is circumstances beyond their control. This will help the school gather evidence to lodge a complaint against the bus and rail companies, if they are repeatedly late and remove the late mark from their attendance record.
Forgetting things at home is very normal, have rules as to when you will make the journey to school to deliver what has been forgotten.
Provide emergency money for bus fare or homework essentials that can be bought on route home and required at short notice for the next day. Art supplies, cooking lesson ingredients or dress up day essetials. This can really help you if you return home late from work.
Have extra copies of the school timetable printed out, take a screen shot of the timetable on their phone and pop another copy into their school bag. This helps navigate bag packing and where to head too in the morning.
They should always pack their own school bag. Ideally the night before and have it waiting at the front door along with a reminder to take their cooking, art, PE kits and after school activity bags. This takes away the morning ‘where is my…’ stress. I had a blackboard with what was needed chalked up by each child for the following day. They then had a visual reminder of what they needed to take with them.
Clear homework on the day it is given, you can’t save the homework for the weekend in secondary school. Most subjects give the students 15 minutes, 30 minutes and building up to an 1 hour a night. We learnt early, that storing the homework leads to fatigue, they are better placed to clear the work that day. Mine had a snack, got their homework done and rested for the eveing, others preferred to do their homework after dinner.
Secondary school is all about the child starting their independent learning journey, let them choose when in the day they clear their work. Some even choose to use their lunch hour at school so they are free when they get home. Clearing work on the day is key, this helps them enjoy the weekend or days that they don’t have any work and gives their brains a much deserved break.
Some children will head off to a school without knowing anyone, explain that it will take time to make friends. Initially they just need a one person or a small group to have lunch with. Joining clubs will widen their net to meet like minded friends. The key is for them to pro active, friendly, helpful, kind and caring and they will attract a lovely group of friends.
Talk about the next steps in the holidays, make the experience feel familiar through visualisation and preparation. They will flourish, have a few bumpy starts to their independence and they will love their new school.
Schools have so many good systems in place to settle children in and with your love underpinning them they will flourish. Enjoy this next chapter it flies by!