Going from primary to secondary: Know what to expect
MOST, if not all, new Secondary One students will confess that the move from primary to secondary school represents a major milestone in their young lives. This marks a point where he or she has come of age - where old childhood habits must now be cast aside and replaced with more mature behaviour. From studying four subjects in primary school, the new secondary school student must now set aside time to read eight to nine subjects!
So what's different about secondary school?
On top of this, the secondary school novice must also commit to one or more co-curricular activities (CCAs) which would mean having to spend more time in school. In a nutshell, here are some of the changes, which a new secondary school student would have to adjust to:
- longer school hours; more commitment and time required for CCAs;
- more subjects (from four subjects in primary school to about eight or nine in secondary);
- more emphasis on critical thinking skills;
- greater independence on the part of the student;
- greater peer influence;
- more homework;
- more independent research work;
- having one teacher per subject in secondary school instead of one teacher teaching all the different subjects in primary school.
The changes could be overwhelming for several new secondary school students but it is only a matter of time before the Secondary One teenager gets familiar with his or her new life as a secondary school-goer. Having a class buddy may be a useful strategy to counter this initial uncertain feeling. Buddies who encourage and assist one another with school matters could act as useful confidants.
Adjusting to the teenager
Secondary school is also a platform where students begin to discover themselves that they are teenagers after all. This is a time when the words "teenage angst" and "raging hormones" crop up. A parent has to try and understand how to deal with such pubescent behaviour and that can make life less difficult for our young learner.
Parental influence versus peer pressure
Parents are also expected to play an important role in helping novice secondary school students adjust to their new surrounding. Parental guidance would help to counter that inevitable peer pressure. Being a friend to your own child may help ease those teething transition periods. It may be more important that at this stage parents adopt a more flexible and subtle parental approach. Raving and ranting at your child would be counter-productive and may instead serve to deflate his confidence and may lead to unintended repercussions.
A teacher in charge of student welfare in a secondary school notes:
"The main difference between primary and secondary school is the testing of boundaries. As the kid grows older, he will be pushing boundaries. And it is important for parents to compromise, to know which battles to fight and which ones to let the child stumble through on his own so that he can learn through personal experience. You cannot be too protective otherwise the child will not have a true learning experience."
"Parents should also trust the school to have the child's welfare at heart. Teachers always have the student's progress in mind and strive to help the students under their charge. So work with them."
Help is available in schools for ready learners. Teachers often organise remedial lessons to help struggling learners to cope.
- Work closely with your child's teacher to form a partnership.
- Gather regular feedback by establishing a comfortable arrangement for communication.
- Ensure you respond to teachers' calls and emails.
- Be willing to take time to visit the school to meet them if necessary.
It may be a challenging time for your child as he has to adjust to the rigour of a more demanding academic and social setting. He has to be a more independent learner and is expected to juggle school work with CCA commitments.
Become a friend, a facilitator and a mentor
Support your child by encourging independent thinking and make him confident of his own decision-making. Talk about his interests, his friends and other experiences besides schoolwork. This growing-up stage is an experience many of us reflect fondly upon. A little encouragement, understanding and affection would go a long way in ensuring that our children get the best from their secondary school years.
Reproduced with permission: absolutelyparents.com
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