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Starting secondary, what do they need to know?

33 replies

ElvenDreamer · 13/03/2022 06:51

Just that really, my kids are pretty naive rural kids, bookish, fairly niche hobbies, not really into popular culture, don't like football. I'm terrified they will be eaten alive at the big secondaries. What lessons do I need to be drip feeding them without actually terrifying them so they are prepared. Any good book recommendations? I know I want them to be really prepared around issues of consent etc (not something I've avoided btw, just want to do more and any thoughts on that welcome) but what else too? Or am I just worrying myself unnecessarily? I personally had a pretty torrid time and there is stuff I wish I'd known, but schools have changed again since my day obviously, the addition of phones scares me in particular. DC 1 is yr 6 so this is imminent. (I have kids of both sexes if this is relevant to advice.)

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GeneLovesJezebel · 13/03/2022 06:54

When mine went I just made sure they had the ‘right’ bag. Sounds stupid, but just making sure they fit in and don’t look too different to everyone else helps.

Bevvyoc · 13/03/2022 06:55

I don't have any advise but I'm in a similar boat. My son doesn't like sport and is very sensitive, I'm worried senseless he is going ti be bullied.

GenderStereotypes · 13/03/2022 06:58

Organisation. That is the number 1 thing that helps in senior school. If they are organised and remember their PE kit, books etc and then don't lose them that takes away a large amount of the stress.

Homework, the term until October will have the most amount of Homework. They will do more homework then than in the next two years.

You can't change sex. You can dress how you please within the school uniform constraints but sex is immutable.

GenderStereotypes · 13/03/2022 07:01


When mine went I just made sure they had the ‘right’ bag. Sounds stupid, but just making sure they fit in and don’t look too different to everyone else helps.

Agree with this. See also trainers.

Park outside the school and see what kids are wearing (or ask on a school fb group, but ideally anonymously) as area defines what is and isn't acceptable. Yes you should teach your kids to not feel the pressure to conform but secondary isn't the time to practice it.
NorthernWanker · 13/03/2022 07:15

I think your over thinking it. I work in a large comprehensive and there's kids of every type and the majority get on with their day with no incidents what so ever. As with subjects they usually start off slow so I wouldn't worry about drip feeding them subject knowledge. However if you really want to bbc bitesize is great or there is a free website you can sign up to called Seneca that has great resources they read etc and then answer questions on. Don't forget all year 7s feel the same when starting secondary just some are better at hiding it then others.

MaizeAmaze · 13/03/2022 07:40

We told DS to smile and say hello to everyone, and then find his friends more slowly.
Taught him how to send a location on WhatsApp incase he got on the wrong bus.
Got him set up with everything he needed, and told him there was one upgrade/replacement if it was wrong. Helped him in the first term to organise what needed to go to school, what homework needed doing, getting set up on all the electronic systems etc. That has dropped off, and now (Y8) we just question the one off things needed.
I dont think consent needs to happen now - well, more than a primary level of pants rules. But we have taken advantage of opportunities as they arise to drop things in - so when the playground gossip was about a pregnant 6th former, we talked about relationships, sex and contraception.

HelloDulling · 13/03/2022 07:44

Make sure you find out about clubs etc as soon as they start. If they know that on Monday they go to choir, Tues is Book Club etc, they won’t be at a loss at lunchtime not knowing who to hang out with. We keep our Year 7s BUSY, and it helps keep them out of mischief if they are that way inclined, and helps the quieter ones to find friends.

ElvenDreamer · 13/03/2022 07:48

Thanks all so far, I'm not worried in terms of subject knowledge as they all read voraciously and are hard workers, although if there was something they were worried about bite size is a good idea, thank you @NorthernWanker, more the social side I guess. In a way I'm not even sure what I'm paranoid about, I think this is more for me really! The bag suggestion makes sense, @GeneLovesJezebel and is not something I'd thought about other than working out how big it needed to be! @GenderStereotypes organisation is a big worry to be sure, DD is very scatty, classic very bright but no common sense. Thinking written lists may help her. Trainers less of a worry for her at least as uniform list dictates exactly what they must be. I know I am overthinking really but kind of neat to be mentally prepared for every situation, it's how I work, research like mad, have many plans for all eventualities. Don't worry, I'm trying not to let this show too much to my kids as I don't want to put my fears on them!

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Hellocatshome · 13/03/2022 07:48

I think you are overthinking this and need to be careful your anxiety doesn't start to rub off on your DC.
The main things are be confident getting to and from school however that may be.
Identify any uniform that is just "not the done thing" for example my DCs school has a jumper at the uniform shop but I haven't seen anyone wear one ever!
If you know any kids that go to the school already ask them what sort of bag to get and when the kids start let them know they can tell you if they want to get a new bag, trainers, shoes etc if they find they have the "wrong" ones.

nutellingyou · 13/03/2022 07:57

Mine is the same age.
I'm not planning on worrying him too much yet. He's a quiet, quirky one.

  1. There's a lot of swearing, don't say things if you don't actually understand what it means.

  1. There's lots of talk about gender, especially the girls, you don't need to worry about it but I'm here if you want to talk or are confused by it all.

  1. Stay away from the boys that fight all the time.

  1. Go to Student Support or a nice teacher if you're upset about anything.

  1. PE will be a lot harder than in Primary but keep trying and try not to be upset. (He's a bit emotional at times & I'm worried it could make him a target)

He's my 3rd at this school so I've got a reasonable idea of what to expect. He's managed to keep his head down in primary school and away from all the boisterous and not so nice boys so I'm hoping it will continue.
But I'm worried too.
nutellingyou · 13/03/2022 07:58

That conversation won't take place until he's just about to get.

Newnormal99 · 13/03/2022 08:06

I would say a little card with your phone number on in case they lose their phone!

Also I spent a lot of time with my daughter teaching her the bus route and the way from the bus stop but it when the bus broke down midway one day she didn't actually know where to walk to get to the next bus stop. Same as last year - there was a missing child alert all over FB - turns out he has got bus wrong direction but obviously didn't realise / didn't know what to do. He was found 7 miles from school at end of bus route in other direction.

So I think sensible planning about what if you get wrong bus / teaching the whole route to school is something I will do with my youngest!

MargosKaftan · 13/03/2022 08:15

Mine is year 7, and that year group who didn't get to do much in year 5 &6 due to lockdowns so not all that prepared.

Get the phone early in year 6 so its not a novelty. Programme the new schools number in, so if they are running late they know to call the school to say so.

If they are travelling by public transport, use that form of transport quite a bit to get them used to it. Put them in charge of their own ticket.

If they are going with other kids from their primary school, have meet ups/playdates regularly with the those kids in year 6.

Year 7 kids hang out together, so they are all in the same boat.

ElvenDreamer · 13/03/2022 08:15

@Hellocatshome I think we may have posted at the same time, I am being really careful not to let my anxieties show to my kids, hence stressing on here instead lol, as you are absolutely right, it won't help them at all. @Bevvyoc and @nutellingyou it is a worry isn't it, I'm glad I'm not alone, somehow almost seems worse for boys too, I'm dreading next year for my son. Nutelling Im sure it being number 3 for you helps, I hope I sound as calm and practical when I reach my 3rd going up. Hoping this is all 1st time worries.
To a couple of people mentioning gender, sexuality etc, DD and I have had chats about how people will identify in all sorts of ways and everything is personal to the individual, to accept whatever people may say about themselves and also never feel pressured to declare anything you don't feel yourself, you are you and that is all that matters. Hoping that's the right approach, I don't want her miserable and confused by thinking she must change in anyway if she doesn't genuinely feel like that, or worried about telling me if she does, equally I want her to treat others decisions with respect and kindness. Hope that rambling paragraph made any sense at all.

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ElvenDreamer · 13/03/2022 08:18

@Newnormal99 good thoughts on buses, definitely lots to get used to and what to do if things go wrong. @MargosKaftan programming in school number is so sensible, can't believe it hadn't occurred to me, thank you!

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nutellingyou · 13/03/2022 08:20

Oh and one thing to remember, the teachers are 100% nicer than they were when we were in school!

OakleyStreetisnotinChelsea · 13/03/2022 08:30

I didn't do any of the right trainers, bag etc thing. Dc1 started with their mates so were OK but dc2 had no friends at primary and it's a completely unique geeky individual.

They chose their own bag which was a sensible backpack from mountain warehouse. I just kept reminding them that high school is bigger than primary and that they would find their tribe there and that if someone is eating lunch on their own or sitting alone at break then they are probably lonely so if they are someone from their year go say hello (had to specify from their year as otherwise my child would take me literally and go start chatting to a 6th former or something).

Anyway dc2 now has a nice little group of fellow geeks, it's in maths club and spends a ridiculous amount of time in the library.

I don't see the point telling our kids tat they need to have the right trainers and bags and coats to fit in, it just makes them more stressed on the lead up.

Hellocatshome · 13/03/2022 08:38

I don't see the point telling our kids tat they need to have the right trainers and bags and coats to fit in, it just makes them more stressed on the lead up.

Oh I dont think you should actually tell them this just steer them in the right direction when it comes to shopping for school stuff.

MintJulia · 13/03/2022 08:42

Definitely rehearse bus travel.

My DS missed the his stop to get off and ended up going all the way to the end of the route, when the very kind bus driver let him stay on the bus while he turned round and drove back to each stop. Smile

mdh2020 · 13/03/2022 08:49

Just bear in mind that it’s a big change. Some take to it like a duck to water and others need time. They can get anxious about whether they have the correct PE kit or whether they wrote the homework down correctly. Make sure they understand that their form tutor and Head of Year are there to help them. Moving about a big building can be confusing too. Even my nephew who still is a complete geek with Aspergers survived the move and made a friend. Come to think of it, so did I!

TeenPlusCat · 13/03/2022 08:50

One thing I haven't seen mentioned is 'ignore, call it out, tell'.
mean comments
someone cheating in a french test
someone using their phone in class
friend confides self harming or being hurt at home

Personally I don't think you have been strong enough on gender issues. I would be clear that you can't change sex, nor be born in the wrong body. That puberty can be confusing but you get through it. Stereotypes are harmful and girls can like whatever and boys can like whatever.
However also the stuff you said, some people have different views and not to get into arguments, be kind, but no boys in girls toilets etc.

MargosKaftan · 13/03/2022 09:14

Oh another one ! If they need to use public transport to/from school, an emergency £10 in their bag /blazer is a good idea for the day when you get a call that a tree has fallen on the train line and there's no trains, so can say "ok go get a taxi from outside the station".

Be clear, discovering the shop your year 7 walks past on the way to the station sells pokemon cards does not constitute an emergency for said £10 to be spent.


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11stonesomething · 13/03/2022 09:35

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ProfessorInkling · 13/03/2022 10:13

If you aren’t talking to your children about things like sex, gender, consent, pornography…how are they to deal with these topics among their peers?

Sex is real, gender is woo, talk about it. Consent - children should always have autonomy over their bodies except when it’s a question of extreme importance - eg no one touches my 11 year old without her permission, but if she needed some kind of surgery she didn’t want, well sorry my love but I have the final say in that. Teach them that pornography is images/videos of people without clothes on, and how to respond when someone shows them, as they inevitably will.

ElvenDreamer · 13/03/2022 10:49

@TeenPlusCat and @ProfessorInkling yes I am talking to my kids about sex and gender, and actually in slightly stronger terms than I have perhaps already implied, I am trying to balance it a little though with the understanding that other people do not believe the same things I do and that should be respected too, I think it's a tough balancing act. Consent something I have always talked about and will continue to do so in stronger and stronger terms. Fortunately my kids can and very very much do talk to me about everything and I really want those channels of communication to stay open. We have always been sensitive to their opinions on photograph sharing etc and anything like that (to the point where their school has different instructions for one of them) so they know I will always listen and act according to their needs.

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