3 July 2012

Secondary School - A Year 7 Survival Guide!


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? 


                                          

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19 comments:

  1. lol give in trying to work anything out, ever. my eldest has just finished and passed his last year of college, my youngest just finishing year 7 too. both are boys with behaviour & mental health problems and i can tell you now that that things are going a lot easier the second time around, long gone are the sleepless nights

    What I have learnt:

    What happens at school stays at school. What they do wrong there gets punished there, why bring it home? it isn’t the end of the world, let your expectations be known but there is no way you can control your child’s behaviour once they are there. My youngest has been called the worst year 7 student they have had which bring me onto the next one

    Sometimes the school really doesn’t understand your child. They have different teachers who each have their own expectations that would drive most of us adults nuts.

    Always explain to your child that school is the only time you are ever expected to get on with that many people at any one time that other children think differently because they have had a different upbringing.

    As long as they get the grades they need to get into the college course they want that is all that actually matters. We can try all we want to ‘encourage/make’ them to do what we want but if they do not see the importance in it they won’t do it .. no matter what.

    It does not matter how they do at school, once they find their own way their own enthusiasm will take over and they will do all the hard work they need to get there.

    We do differ on the mobile phones .... my youngest has his for when he is at his fathers. My eldest didn’t have one at all until he was about 15 and then it was not taken to school, it was for use only when out with his friends late at night.

    One last thing, you thought puberty was bad when we were young, wait until you are the parent .. and it makes you grateful that we didn’t have any form of social media ... also wait until year 9!! That is when things can really start to get interesting.

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    1. OK now you've really scared me! Actually, I am more dreading my second daughter embarking on secondary school, I am already pre-empting a nightmare (she's a different story altogether lol!) Thanks for adding to the list :)

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  2. My little boy is about to start reception and all these questions are in my head too! Clearly it doesn't get any better. He's going with one friend but has a friend in current reception. The school is known for being very inclusive and friendly. But he's about to have this little life away from me for 6-7 hours of the day and I get the feeling I won't get to hear much about it. It's difficult enough finding out what he does at preschool! Polly

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    1. Yes there is an element of that at Primary School, but in most schools you can go in and speak to the teacher either at drop-off or pick-up and they are usually good at including you in things. I am sure you little boy will be fine, they are usually far better at these 'new' things than us mums!

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  3. Really enjoyed that. I've got one more year to go with my eldest, but the next step is on my mind, and I'm dreading the end of primary school and the 'last' of everything. I was an emotional wreck when my youngest had her last day at pre-school - so there's no hope! But I suppose I can also see that my son has almost outgrown primary, and he's looking forward to going to his next school. Helps to hear from someone who's been through it x

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    1. My next child only has one more year of primary too....I think she will be very ready to go, mine are two completely different characters. Year 6 is quite special, but it goes so quickly - make the most of it! There will obviously be lot of tears in your house ;)

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  4. Thanks for this! Yeah, I've got a boy, but this is sti great. Love the pics! :)

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    1. Ha ha, tried to depict the change from that very smart first day, to the care-free look by the end of the year! Your boy will be fine (not sure about you though!)

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  5. Oh, all that sounds very scarey.

    I have a little boy who is just doing his "lasts" of everything in his first school, year 2. Tomorrow afternoon and all day on Friday his is going to his new school for his "transition" days.

    I felt emotional on his lasts sports day and today should have been his "last" Proms in the Playground", but that has been cancelled due to the rain, and even that has made me sad.

    He has grown up so much while he has been at First School, and he can't wait to go up to middle school. He even had me help him work out how many days he has to wait before the start of next term, and when he realised that he had nearly 60 days to wait and had to have the whole of the Summer Holidays off first, he was actually disappointed !!! x

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    1. Oh how I feel for you! It's all so 'final' isn't it? My youngest is about to embark on life as a junior....uh oh! Hope it's all gone smoothly and enjoy the summer :)

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  6. Yes - I think its the lack of knowledge / control thing that worries me. I get little enough info about what they do at primary school and I know most of the children and parents, I guess it's going to be a big learning curve for all of us.
    OK one question that arose this morning as I packed him off for his induction day. If they take a packed lunch what kind of container is 'cool'? - I'm guessing that lunch boxes are probably not 'done' at High school!

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    1. Good point, that's definitely one I forgot! Yes, don't send him in with one of those lunchboxes with the handle on, a more grow-up tupperware box type, seems to be acceptable. A lot of children have the cooked lunches though and it's quite a good experience for them (my daughter has a cooked lunch 1 day per week).

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  7. Great insight Suzanne! My oldest is about to embark on this journey but I've also got my youngest starting full time in reception too so I'm predicting I'll be a total mess :-)

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    1. Oh Sarah, I imagine you probably will be! Their little lives go so quick in some ways but oh so slow in others! Is your second son going into year 6 as well?

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    2. Yes, I'll have one in reception, one in yr 6 & one into yr 7 :-) I look back over the last 12 years & can't quite believe how fast it's gone!!

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  8. What a brilliant and accurate post. I have one in year 11 and one about to start this year.

    Thanks for your top tips xx

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    1. Wow, you are obviously a seasoned Secondary School parent, any tips for year 8?! I'm told that they get worse in Year 9!! Thanks for reading and following :)

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  9. nice list!! I have some years to go...my eldest is on 3rd grade, but this stuff is always nice to know ahead of time!

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    1. Thanks for commenting. Enjoy your life as a mum of little ones....it all comes around so quick! (never thought I would be one to say that!)

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