My daughter has just made the change to secondary school this September, giving me an interesting perspective on secondary school transition.
As a parent I was constantly questioning things: Should she travel by bus or train? I need to give her more freedom, but how much? How do I encourage her to take responsibility – for her possessions – as well as when crossing roads? How will she cope with the homework?
Travelling in – for us it works well for her to travel by train. My initial concern was that there was not anyone from our village and her school catching the same train, but there are lots of Year 7 students from other schools and they do the first part of the journey together, before meeting others from their own schools. She enjoys the social aspect of the train – and meeting lots of others.
Freedom – we keep having regular discussions about trust – reminding her that with freedom comes responsibility. If she shows that we can trust her, then she will keep these freedoms. So far, so good!
Responsibility – well, so far, she has lost (and found) her phone and left something else on the train, but we are seeing this as part of the learning curve and considering ways, together, of how we can try to ensure these incidents are not repeated – for example her phone is now kept in a zipped (rather than open) pocket. She seems to have managed to cross roads safely – or perhaps it is just that so many travel the same route, that the cars wait patiently!
Homework – we are sitting down every few days to check that she is on track. I know that she will develop this skill, but I currently need to ensure that she prioritises work that needs to be done first, not just what sounds the most appealing.
It has been a big change for her, going from a small school to one over five times the size, but I have learnt that she was ready for the move and that possibly some of the greatest challenges were for me, as her mother. Once I had got over the initial shock of the early starts in the morning, I have been enjoying spending the early hours chatting things through with her before my other two children wake up. These times together have certainly helped both of us with the transition, sorting out small issues before they have become any bigger.
As a teacher it has been useful for me to see the process from the ‘other side’, helping me to realise the importance of communication about day to day events from the school as we have much less contact than at primary school. I really do not feel distant as the induction of the students was very good and we were provided with all the information we could have needed. It has also been invaluable to have clear expectations set from the school around homework, encouraging us to talk to the school if we have concerns about any aspect of homework, or how our children are settling in. Two-way communication channels have been evident and will certainly be in place at Da Vinci School. By listening to each other, we will ensure that your children settle and thrive at our school.