Preparing your child for Secondary School
Read this article to find out what you can do to make your child's first days in his new Secondary School smoother and more pleasant!
I hated my first day of secondary school. Come to think of it, I don't remember anyone telling me they had any fun at all during the initial days of entering new secondary school for the first time.
This rite of passage can be incredibly painful for your preteen kid, who has to deal with all sorts of bodily changes as well as confusing emotions, and on top of that, the upheaval of having to adjust to a completely new environment and new faces.
My parents pretty much left me to my own devices, and I awkwardly cruised along till the second year of school, before I started feeling better about the whole secondary school situation. Looking back, there were some things they did that were awesome and others that would have really helped if they had told me or done for me, then.
Tell your child everyone feels as awkward and as nervous as him
And that's really the truth. Even the cool kids. If someone had told me that everyone else was feeling just as out of place as me, I think I would have had a much easier time striking up conversations and making friends. And having friends make the pains of growing up that much better.
It certainly does not help that teens hone the skill swaggering and acting confident to such a fine art that it would put the puffer fish to shame. It was not until I was much older that I recognized all that as an act.
Buy him a "cool" bag and "cool" shoes
So you want to teach him that confidence is about what is inside, not what is outside. Or maybe you want to teach him that it's okay to be different.
That's very laudable but really, trust me, do him a favour and leave those lessons for after the first months of school. In an education system where uniforms are largely mandatory, cool bags and shoes decide your child's acceptance into respectable society. The first few months are going to be tough already, so it is highly recommended that you make the transition easier with easily bought items from the nearest shopping mall.
This means, dump the velcro shoes and get him those with laces. Ask him or his older siblings or cousins what are good brands of bags to buy - not expensive brands (good grief, no Prada please unless you want him to be a complete pariah), but "cool" brands that say "I'm one of you" in adolescent lingo.
Do a tour of his new school with him
If possible, it would be a great help if you could walk the school grounds together with him. This helps him get familiar with the new environment with someone familiar, and if the school is big, reduces the possibility of him getting lost.
I remember my first week of school was horrendous because being a person who's generally bad with directions, I was getting lost a lot which made me panic even more. Because I didn't know anyone, and I didn't dare to approach anyone, I was late and flustered a lot. Not a great start for me at all!
Point out to him where his classroom is, where key places such as the canteen, the school hall and the auditorium are and what directions to follow as he moves from one area to another.
Click next to find out what other tips are useful to prepare for your child's first day in secondary school
Outline what to do if he gets bullied
When your child enters a new secondary school, he will be the smallest of the kids. Throw a lot of hormonally charged teenagers together with a huge variation in size (teenagers grow so fast!), and it is not at all unlikely that your child could be bullied by his peers or the older kids.
Getting into fights is a rite of passage for most teenage boys, especially in an all-boys environment. Girls fight differently, but dirtier, and the effects of bullying can be more traumatizing.
Bullying can happen to different extents. Some bullies just want to establish a pecking order while others could want something more malicious and simply identify your child as an easy target.
Teach your child how to avoid conflict by walking away or forming social ties with a group of friends. Telling an adult is an option, especially if the bullying gets out of hand, but can sometimes make the matters worse. The key here is to communicate with your child and be on the lookout for any warning signs that he could be getting badly bullied in school. Assess the situation, and whether or not your intervention is necessary before deciding on an appropriate course of action.
Let go - slowly but surely
I think this could be the most difficult for many parents. Your child is stepping into a new world, and you know that the moment he enters secondary school, there will be some major differences in family dynamics. He will be testing his wings, and pushing boundaries. Let him do that, respect his need for independence while always being a safety net.
During the initial months of secondary school, don't hold on too tightly, but let him know without being overly intrusive that you are there for him if he needs to talk.
One of the factors that really helped me get through my secondary school days was my parents' support and advice. Although they never intruded on my privacy and left my to deal with my problems as I wished, I always knew they would be around if I needed to talk to them about anything that was bothering me.
Entering secondary school is really the beginning of a long and angsty journey into adulthood, but it doesn't have to be all bumps and knocks. With your help, your child will have a smoother and more pleasant ride!
Do you have any other essential tips to share on making the first few days of secondary school less awful? Share with other mums in the comments below.