This time last year, DD1 was excitedly getting ready for her first visit to Secondary School. Being a naturally self-assured soul, she tends to take these things in her stride and therefore couldn’t contain her enthusiasm for leaving the Primary School she had been so passionate about for 6 years. I, on the other hand, spent the entire final half-term of Year 6 in emotional turmoil. Every ‘last’ event that took place, was heavily laced with a shot of nostalgia – last Sports Day, last School Play, last School Report, last Disco.....by the end, I was an emotional wreck! My nearest and dearest will tell you that this is hugely out of character for ‘the stone’ (my nickname!) - I didn't cry when any of my children first started school, in fact I probably only cry approximately once a year and that is usually hormone induced! So this feeling crept up and took me by complete surprise.
Back to ‘The Visit’. My children attend a very ‘nice’ Primary School in Berkshire, in fact the best way todescribe it is ‘sheltered’. When E returned home from her visit, I tried to feign nonchalance by enquiring in a casual manner: “So, how did it go?”
She looked at me, wide-eyed, jaw hanging open and blurted out: ‘there were older boys hanging about in the corridors, swearing and saying the ‘f’ word!’ Inside, part of me wanted to weep - my little girl, so sheltered and now exposed to the big wide world, how would she cope?!
Those eye-openers didn’t stop there! We have both been on a steep learning curve this year so with this in mind, I thought it might be useful to anyone about to embark on this new ‘adventure’, to hear our experience of year 7 and hopefully prevent you from making some of the mistakes that we did! Bear in mind that I have a daughter, so a lot of this only applies to girls....
So here goes.....‘Things that we have learnt’:
1) Buy your child a new school bag before the start of Secondary School. Rucksacks are no long seen as ‘cool’ so go straight for the large sack-style handbag.
2) Forget ever finding out anything about what your child does at school, eats at school or who their friends are. You will be relying on him/her to give the info and they will be too tired/grumpy/hormonal to give you much, if any.
3) They no longer ‘play’ but instead prefer to ‘hang out’.
4) Don’t panic if they cease inviting friends round for tea, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have any friends, it is just no longer the done thing.
5) Pony tails for girls, are definitely NOT cool! They will quickly be discarded for the hair-down, care-free look.
6) Girls only wear sheer black tights and the skirt will get shorter and shorter with each passing term.
7) Don’t expect to pick your child up from outside the school- gate. Pre-arrange a convenient spot as far away as is humanly possible - they will not want you to be seen by their friends.
8) No matter how hard you try to hang on to the old school friendships which have been nurtured for years, they will probably die a natural death, bar 1 or 2 really special ones.
9) At some point your child will inevitably get invited to someone’s house that you don’t know. Perhaps pre-empt this and consider inviting them to yours first, in order to ‘vet’ them.
10) It's unlikely that you will get to know any of the other parents at Secondary School as the whole 'school-gate' thing is obsolete.
11) Start off the year with 2 of everything – the art of losing things, seems to be finely-tuned in a Secondary School child.
12) If, up until now, you have managed to not buckle under the pressure of buying your child a mobile phone, please go out and buy one immediately! It really is essential, how on earth did our parents manage back in the dark ages?
13) At the first Parents Evening, ensure that your child books in appointments on the day they are released. If not, you will end up like us with an evening of PE, Textiles and Cookery!
|1st day of Secondary School|
|End of Year 7|
On the plus side, my daughter has matured (in a good way), exceeded expectations academically and thrown herself into many new activities. Naturally, we have gone through a few friendship ups and downs but having entered Year 7 with only 2 friends from her Primary School, she is moving on to Year 8 with a lovely group of new friends (I believe so anyway, she has yet to introduce me!)
So, if you are a parent with a child about to enter year 7 and are full of the kind of questions that I was as a new and apprehensive parent, I would be more than happy to try and help. If you’re a more seasoned Secondary School parent, what would you add to my list?