Preparing for Junior School
A millionbillionwillion miles from home
Waiting for the bell to go. (To go where?)
Why are they all so big, other children?
So noisy? So much at home they
Must have been born in uniform
Lived all their lives in playgrounds
Spent the years inventing games
That don't let me in. Games
That are rough, that swallow you up.
From First Day at School by Roger McGough
What's this all about?
Moving from Primary to Junior school can be daunting for some children: going from being one of the biggest to one of the smallest in one fell swoop can be a scary prospect. Now your child's seven, it's a good time to start thinking about making the transition as easy as possible for them.
How should you handle it?
Clearly, if your child isn't feeling anxious about starting a new school, you don't want to create a drama unnecessarily! Nonetheless, I would recommend talking to your child about their new school and how they are feeling about it. This will give them the opportunity to talk about any fears which they might have.
If they do express some fears, make sure that you don't simply dismiss them. It's best to recognise and acknowledge those fears, and instead think of ways to deal with them.
Many children go to junior schools which are linked to local primary schools. And in some cases, they will already know many of the children who are planning to attend their new school. However, if your child is concerned about not knowing anyone and can sometimes be a little shy, it's well worth speaking to the school about this beforehand. Many schools operate a buddy system to help new children settle in. Once your child does start school you can also help potential friendships blossom by encouraging your child to invite a few friends over after school.
For some children, it's not so much the other children that they are worried about; instead they are more concerned with the size and scale of their new school. How will they find their way around? What if they get lost? Again here, if this is your child's primary concern I would recommend speaking with the school and asking if you can come around for another tour. I'd suggest that when you were visiting the first time, your child's mind probably wasn't on looking out for key landmarks, but the purpose of this second tour will be to do just that.
If it's not possible to arrange another tour, sometimes simply driving past the school, pointing out the gate and the main entrance to the building will be enough to reassure your child. It's also worth highlighting to them that the school will seem big and new to everyone who just started, and that on their first day the teachers will do a tour of the school and make sure that all the children get to know their way around.
Once your child starts their new school, make time to talk to them about their day and reassure them if they are anxious. If you have any concerns, do speak to the school directly - they will be able to provide advice and support and will be on hand to keep an eye on your little one.
Play & pretend
When starting a new school it's important that your child can introduce themselves to others confidently. At Perform we play a game called My name is... to help children with this. Why not have a go at home?