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Advice for starting secondary school(19 Posts)
My DS is starting secondary school in September, I am due to give birth 2 weeks later, so looking for advice on what can help DS settle in and make the adjustment easier and for me to be organised and help him.
Oh gosh, that's a lot to have on your plate. Off the top of my head:
- if getting to school involves new routes/public transport practice these before term starts.
-help him get organised. We have a tray with spare pens, stationary, rulers etc in the living room for homework and they both have their own in-tray for keeping the books they dont need that day in
-sort out a place for him to do homework and a place to keep school bag/pe kit
-get a copy of his timetable and pin it up somewhere prominent. Then work with him to pack his bag every night ready for the next day
-talk to him about how its going
Try to get everything bought and packed as soon as possible.
Does he have contacts with others from his new school? If so, some outings may be good to just hang around.
We allowed DD a month of unsupervised food purchases to help her navigating lunch times. They have a cap of £5/day and that pays for a drink, snack, lunch incl. a dessert, after one months we went to taking a snack in and just buying lunch.
Talk about how to set up a homework station and where to store books. They will get enough homework for him to be doing something most days.
We found that a large family style calendar works wonders, we log all private things like hobbies and days out and Dd can then see how to schedule which homework.
Encouring him to see what clubs are on offer. Even if he doesn’t stick with all, it is a good opportunity to meet others and learn to deal with a sudden influx of independence.
Practice the walk/bus to school. Even if he takes the bus he should now how to walk in case they are kicked off due to traffic problems or bus failure. Often the Y7 are lost as they don’t know the area that well.
As soon as he gets his timetable make a copy of it and put it somewhere openly. Bags are packed the night before. You won’t get lots of information from the school, see if things are written in his planner.
A set of mandatory stationary items at home is good to have, our school issues detentions for missing maths equipment. Keep it calm when he gets his first detention, most in DD’s class were terrified, it is often just 15 minutes and the “offence” may be something really small. We just told DD to accept it and learn from the underlying issue.
Detention anxiety - that was the most stressful thing for us at the start of Y7; the terror at being unable to do due homework (because teacher hadn't succeeded in uploading onto on-line platform) or being caught with tie knotted at the wrong length or possibly too sporty-shoes or being one minute late . . No excuses! they had been told. Staff have their own reasons no doubt for laying the rules on thick at the start of Y7. But the result must be a regular cohort of terrified 11 year olds who were never in any trouble at primary school having home meltdowns in September on weekly basis. So - do your best not to make it worse, I would say. If they get a detention - and they will probably at least once at some stage - make it clear as far as you're concerned it's no biggie (it really isn't). For a child who is obviously trying to do the right thing, it's probably very unlikely in the first weeks anyway.
At my DC's very strict school they had a policy of being "easy" on the year 7s for the first few weeks. So no detentions for things like ties etc. (Not necessarily the same for "crimes" that hurt another pupil.)
So not all schools are the same. Although year 7's are often very anxious.
BarbariansMum's suggestions are good.
The dcs' school don't give detentions the first fortnight for forgotten stuff to give them a chance to get into the swing of it. I'm not a fan of schools you see in the paper that give detentions on the first day for a forgotten ruler. The first couple of weeks are an emotional time for many year 7s. On the other hand the dcs' school come down hard on any bullying or fighting from as early as the July induction days which I think is right.
Thank you all, some really helpful tips. He doesn't know anyone else going to his school and involves a 10 minute train journey plus walk either side so we are all a bit nervous!
buy plastic book covering in advance, a few rolls of it. make his mouth guard for PE -if you buy the remoudable one if he doesn't end up needing it until term 2 you can remould it if need be.
buy A spare tie. Also buy a 2nd PE kit in next size up. Useful to have a back up and they’ll wear it anyway,,
Attach his door key to his school bag with a long piece of 1cm elastic, that way he won't lose it and some idiot won't try and take it from his bag (there was a "game" at DCs school where they would try to unzip a bag un-noticed ) It was long enough to reach the door with his bag on the door mat.
Emergency money somewhere deep in his bag and your phone number written into his planner. Even though he may know it panic can erase it in the moment.
Two pencil cases, one for every day items - pen, pencil (we did mechanical ones) ruler, glue stick, pencil sharpener (had to have one despite the mechanical pencil) etc the other for coloured pencils, compass, protractor, so just less used items. These never leave their bags at home, we have duplicates at home so they never go without their equipment.
Totally agree with mellicauli I have two sons one has just finished year 11 and the other is about to start year 9. Only 2 items have gone missing, one was a single PE sock which was a nightmare because the school uniform is only delivered twice a month. So another PE kit the next size up and the tie.
We do a daily "check in" so instead of a how was your day they told us what they did in each lesson, so period 1 in history it was how WWI started, period 2 in English we did a poem called X etc. That way you can talk around the subject and maybe widen their understanding of it.
Join clubs, it is a good way to make friends. My two sons went to a school where they knew no-one. Made friends easily.
School will also do stuff to encourage new friendship groups so don't worry about that so much.
Definitely practise the journey before, talk him through what to do if he misses the train, it is cancelled/delayed. Where he can go for help in the station etc. Having solutions helps them.
Just agreeing with previous posters really, joining clubs was so important to my children, I told them I wanted them to join at least one sporty club and then 2 more of any they felt like joining. It gave them something to do at lunchtime before they had met many people (neither knew anyone), and ended up helping them make a really wide and varied social circle. It's really important for yr 7s to be brave and join in with as much as possible, it's one of the best ways to have a smoother transition I think.
Place marking! My eldest starts secondary in September too op! And i am due a baby on THE SAME BLOODY DAY
When he gets home have a drink and a biscuit together, and just listen. Don’t offer advice unless he wants it.
Hope all goes well for you all!
Re attaching keys to something, I would still suggest that it is to the inside pocket of their blazer, not their bag. Very few blazers get left behind on public transport...
Don’t rush in to save the day. Ask her how she wants to manage things so she feels in control. Tell her that after 2 weeks (or whatever) that if she forgets something you won’t be bringing it up to school.
Try to cut down on the evening activities and insist on early bedtimes - they will be shattered.
Keep her off her phone and off social media. That should be number one.
Hi Sleepless. I started this thread on chat and there were some useful suggestions which I thought might be relevant to your son.
I think the main difference is friendship issues and fitting in. The rest is common sense stuff that’s typical of any school age
I’d teach your child that (ime) there are 3 main categories of children in secondary school
1) the bullies
2) the bullied
3) the stand byers
I have 2 in high school already and my last is moving up, they’re all girls and it’s been challenging. I’m likely bias but I find those kids who aren’t bullied are either the bullies or those who watch or follow (the sheep). Even the lovey lovey kids are the sheep and they can be equally bad if they’re your closet mate.
Not trying to scare you OP and I know my post is negative but I think it’s important for kids to recognise kids in these groups so that they know who’s genuine, who’s mean etc and who can be or is being a genuine friend
Do you know anyone with a child already at the school? There is a lot of good general advice here, but schools have different routines and different expectations, so don't assume that someone else's good idea is relevant for you. There would be no point buying sticky back plastic or a spare tie at my DC's school, for example.
I'd suggest working with your child and following their cues. Not all children want to discuss their day in detail or be organised the way you think they should be! Be their to offer support and advice, if wanted, but ultimately you have to let your child find their own way.
If going on the train, plan what happens when they miss their stop! DD daydreamed past our stop and then had a huge panic when she realised. No-one helped. Frantic phone calls ensued and I got her to get off at the next stop and wait for me to collect her. She was still too unsure to get the next train back, so plan for that if you can't collect. I know several DC's who have done this. Some find it hilarious, DD was beside herself. Never seen such a sad little form, sitting on a bench all alone in an unknown station, in the dark :-(
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