Something we often hear from parents of year 7 students is their concern over transition into secondary school. Common worries include whether their children will fit in socially, adapt to changes in their environment and routine, and handle the increased workload and expectations placed on them to be more independent.
Parentline, an Australian professional counselling service, classifies the move from primary to secondary school as a typical ‘life transition’. These transitions have commonalities in that they are normal parts of life but can involve significant stress. “These feelings can be due to the uncertainty associated with change as well as changes that are occurring within young people at this time in their lives.” (Transition Tip Sheet 2017, http://www.parentline.com.au)
There are many changes in the transition to secondary school: larger grounds, multiple teachers, new peers, new subjects and activities, new routines. The increase in expectation on students to take manage a significantly larger workload with less support, as well as quickly improve skills such as essay writing and studying in order to do well in regular assessments can on their own create a great amount of anxiety and panic for students. If not handled proactively from the start, this can lead to serious problems such as depression and a decrease in self-esteem.
My Academy’s Director Rachel Hayes observes: “The top concern is the massive jump from primary school where the students are nurtured through projects and timetables, to high school where they suddenly have assignments, homework and other activities to schedule on their own. Parents are finding themselves deciphering the assignment demands and having to remember how to put projects together in order to support their children. The parents are also commenting on how tired their children are with the change in schools.”
One factor that can make a big impact on how well students do in the transition to secondary school is their academic preparation. This includes not just content knowledge but the student’s exposure to and skill in formal testing situations, including exam techniques, reading critically, and essay writing. At My Academy, we offer support to both parents and students with their academic pressures. This includes a homework club twice a week which enables the students to work through their assignments and homework with an accredited tutor – taking the added pressure off the parents.