“Don’t try so hard to fit in and certainly don’t try so hard to be different, just try to be you.”

    I recently ran a workshop ‘Have a Positive Transition from Primary to Secondary School’ with a 6th class mixed group. I wanted to share this with you as it can be a big worry for many kids. The things the kids were looking forward to about starting 1st year and they things they were worried about.

    Things they were looking forward to:

    Different teachers
    Lots of new friends
    Different subjects
    New uniform
    Having a canteen
    Discos

    Things they were worried about; (some overlapped!)

    Different teachers – having a teacher who didn’t like them
    Finding it hard to make friends
    Homework – nervous of not being able to cope
    Lockers – nervous about getting books from lockers on time
    Getting lost in a big school
    Exams (this came up a lot)
    Discos
    If you have an older child, try to get them to go through some of these points. They may seem trivial to an older sibling or parent but they are important to the 12/13 year old starting into a new school.

    Help them to understand the importance of doing ‘their’ best and whether that ‘best’ is a D, C, B or A is irrelevant – once it is their best. Academia is important but so is friendship, family, past-times, mental and physical health. President of UCD recently commented on the number of 11 A students finishing school who cannot cope with life, cannot communicate, have no interests and few friends – this is not the ideal scenario for any of our kids. Balance is so important – try to remember academia is only one aspect of your child’s life.

    Help them to understand that many kids don’t make friends straight away – that is normal. When I work with 5th year students and ask them when do they think students make their ‘real’ friends in secondary school, the answer is always the same – 3rd or 4th year. This is really important as kids feel there is something ‘wrong’ with them if they haven’t found their ‘group’ in 1st year.

    Your 1st year student may be totally stressed out in the mornings because their hair is not right or their uniform is dirty or something else we, the parent, may think is not important but PLEASE remember, to them it IS important or else they would not be upset about it. Try to remember when you were starting secondary school;
    what were you nervous about
    what was important to you
    it is very easy to forget what it is like to be a 13 year old starting into a new phase of life.
    For some kids this will happen without a hitch, for others there may be a few pitfalls along the way. This is an age group I work with a lot so feel free to email me with any concerns you may have and I will do my best to support you.

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