The reality of transitioning

I’ve written about this subject before without having any real experience. Now as a mother of a child currently in year 8, I can talk about it having lived through it! I wasn’t sure how Daisy was going to cope, stepping out of the safety of year 6 and a primary school which she loved attending and entering into a whole new ‘next step’ in her life. Going from being a big fish in a small pond to a little fish in a big pond seemed daunting and exciting in equal measures. It is with reluctance however, that I have to bring up Covid, as the transition happened during this period. As I previously suspected, the leap from primary to secondary school is a big one, in many ways. Bigger and more. Bigger school, more classrooms, more young people, more subjects, more choice, more of everything. Ironically however, when you transition through Covid, everything is completely restricted, even to the point where you don’t even step foot into the school building. And when you do, you are limited to the number of classrooms you learn in, the teachers you have, and the pupils you mix with - and don’t even think about any extra-curricular activities or events. There was just a lot less opportunity, the very thing we hoped secondary school would provide more of.

Fitting in

The usual fears of fitting in: coping with change and the anxiety that comes with this, friendship groups and bullying were all still there but because everything was so disjointed, she had limited time to build relationships or form friendships with fellow students or her teachers - it is pretty impossible to develop these through a computer screen. So, the transition from primary to secondary for Daisy was many things – difficult, lonely, challenging and unexpected. However, life continues and friendship groups were made and she did learn a thing or two!

Year 8, the new Year 7

As she entered year 8 and the world started to open up and restrictions eased, it almost felt like this was her real introduction to secondary school and the previous year was a really poor dress rehearsal. I think the real sign of a breakthrough was when she was finally able to use a locker at school. No longer needing to carry countless books and folders into school each day, it also seemed for her, that a weight had been lifted, in more ways than one. As they were able to move normally around the school and were allowed access to the gym and other parts of the school they didn’t even know existed, Daisy and her friends finally got to experience secondary school as was intended.

All about the 'other stuff.'

What makes secondary school that bit more enjoyable for Daisy? It’s not necessary the lessons (shock horror!), it is, instead all of the other ‘stuff’ – the football games (which recently involved a trip to Cornwall), the band sessions and the impending Activity Week (normally undertaken at the end of year 7) which will involve a 3-day residential and several adventurous, environmental and language day trips. It is all of these out-of-the-classroom experiences and sporting activities that are helping to develop Daisy into a well-rounded individual, giving her the confidence to be herself, to relate to her peers and adults and giving her the opportunity to try new things.

For us, Covid did a pretty good job of chipping away at her self-esteem so I am grateful she is at a school which encourages so many sporting and extra activities. It’s giving her a voice, it’s allowing her to mix with individuals outside of her classroom and year group, it is showing her the benefits of being part of a team and giving her a strong sense of belonging. Many of these experiences are new and challenging, so she enjoys both personal and team success as well as learning that it is OK to fail. I know whole-heartedly that these are the things that are bringing her confidence in the classroom and enhancing her secondary school experience, and I absolutely encourage her to try as many things as she can.

How a residential trip benefits young people

At primary school, some of the many highlights were the two adventurous residential trips she participated in and I will never forget her excitement of being away from home, being outdoors and trying so many new, fun and challenging activities. I have no doubt that these future trips will be just as impactful as she progresses through secondary school Such opportunities have the potential to ignite something in an individual which you do not always discover in the classroom, often allowing them to reach a potential they didn't know they had.

It's all about balance

Like everything, secondary school is a real balancing act and if we can get it right – balance the lessons and time spent inside the classroom with some of that ‘extra stuff’ and these life-lessons, then there will be no limits to what they will achieve and the type of individual they will become as a result. And if they are making great memories and forging strong friendships along the way, then what more can you ask for?

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