Whilst you might not be ready to be a secondary-school parent, it’s going to happen anyway. So, take a deep breath and read our top tips to make sure your child has a great start to secondary school — and keeps it that way throughout.
The three main concerns for both parents and children during their secondary education are GCSEs, A-Levels and university applications. Although these are crucial, the point of this blog will be to discuss all the other, too often overlooked, important aspects of a child’s secondary education, where parents play a crucial role.
Talk to your child
New beginnings can be both exciting and challenging, so talk to your child to understand how they’re feeling about starting secondary school. This is also a time to encourage them to be more independent and show your child that you have confidence in them to master this new chapter.
Pick up essentials
Buying essentials like uniforms, alarm clocks and stationary in advance could be a lifesaver down the line. This way you can do a practice run of early starts and tying ties towards the end of summer as suggested in our top back-to-school tips. You can also identify all your options regarding school uniform as the whole package can be quite expensive. One alternative is schools’ second-hand sales but these can sell out quickly, so make sure to check early in the summer. The one thing you do want to wait with, however, is shoes as your child might have grown a size by the end of the summer.
Sort out the paperwork
School paperwork could include anything from sorting out your child’s locker to data protection, so make sure you fill these out before term starts. This is particularly important if your child has any special needs or experienced, for example, recent bereavement. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity to get on the waiting list for musical instrument if your child would like to take one up. This way, they’ll be all set for a great start to secondary school.
Apply for a bus pass
Your child might start taking public transport or the school bus, so you’ll need to apply for a bus pass or a place on the bus. For Londoners, apply for an 11-15 Zip Oyster photo card (which might also let your child pay for school meals). Remember to apply as early as possible as the process might take weeks!
Help your child to explore what interests them.
It’s unbelievable how young children are when they must begin to make choices about which subjects interest them the most. At a very young age, they are expected to know which field they would like to dedicate the rest of their lives to. Of course, there will be moments when they can change their mind and alter the course of their academic path. But nevertheless, the difficulty increases as each year passes by. That is why it is so important for you parents to help them explore and navigate the vast possibilities open to them. By this we do not mean you must choose for them, but rather be their guide. You can help them look at the world in different ways, share some of your wisdom, and be there to answer any questions or concerns that may arise as they explore.
Encourage a love of learning.
One of the greatest skills you can teach your child is to help them cultivate a love of learning. This can be challenging if they are struggling at school, both academically and socially. One of the most difficult obstacles to overcome is when a child is not getting along with a teacher, as the teacher will have an incredible impact on the student’s feelings towards the subject. Help your child choose the appropriate academic challenges. At times it may not matter. For example, if your child’s passion lays in a STEM subjects, and they happen to have a poor German teacher. Yes, it won’t help your child learn to appreciate the value of foreign languages, but in the end their academic and career path won’t be profoundly influenced. The danger arises when a teacher’s approach discourages a student in a field they could excel in. That is when it is vital for you to be aware and step in to keep encouraging your child to pursue a field they enjoy. For example, by finding a summer programme that would allow your child to access the learning in a fun environment or hiring a tutor to show and remind your child how talented they are, motivating them and keeping them from feeling inadequate and discouraged.
Help them see the value of an education.
It’s important for children to remember that their education is for them, not for their parents. You already know how important education is, as you have gone through the process. But assuming your child understands the value of an education simply because you tell them so, may not be enough. In the end, their education will benefit them. Of course, your child’s success is extremely important to you as well. But they have to know, that at the end of the day, they are studying and persevering in order to build their own success. It’s important for them to realise this, because they must know that the responsibility of their success is in their hands, not yours. You are there to support them, but they must know that their agency is what matters.
Encourage their independence.
This is a difficult process for many parents, but a crucial one for your child’s development. Gradually give your child more freedom to make their own decisions and manage their own schedule. Even if they are bound to make mistakes, that is often the best, and sometimes only, way someone truly learns. You child must go through some struggles, as that will be key in strengthening them and building knowledge that they would otherwise easily forget. It is only through first-hand experience that one truly learns. And even though they may stumble, knowing that you are there as a last resort is invaluable. Knowing you are there is what will allow your child to take risks and have the courage to try new experiences.
Expose them to the diversity of our world.
There are 3 main ways to do this. Namely, through reading, travelling and discussions. Your child will learn some parts of this through school and friends, but you can provide the foundations. Because they love and trust you, your impact will be the strongest. So, if you can help your child learn about the diversity and complexity of our world, you will be both helping your child’s development, and preparing them for university. The more time they spend developing their understanding of the world, the easier it will be for them to transition into university level learning. They will also face fewer struggles when trying to adapt to new environments, be it geographically, academically or professionally. If you want to read more about ways to help your child learn about diversity, we would recommend the following blog by Edutopia.
Teach them life skills.
These may seem obvious to you, but you would be surprised at how many students start university without basic life skills, such as knowing how to do their own laundry, cooking, and budgeting. The earlier you start teaching these skills the better. The summer before they head out to university will be too late and overwhelming for them, as that is not enough time to really have these skills sink in. Learning these skills can take years to slowly develop. But they do not have to seem like a hassle nor a chore. Instead, there are many ways to slowly expose your child. For example, if they have a favourite dish, start by teaching them the “magic” behind the preparation. We also wrote a blog focusing exclusively with how to help your child learn how to deal with money and finances. None of these skills need to be an ordeal. They can all be introduced in an easy, step by step, non-overwhelming way.
Book a tutor
There are many new academic challenges that come with the start of secondary school. Whether you wish to address your child’s specific subject needs in the summer or provide them with regular learning support throughout, our tutors and mentors are here to help your child have a great start to secondary school – and make sure they keep it that way. Our specialist home tutors teach and mentor in all subjects, and are all DBS checked. Before our tutoring starts, we always provide an in-person consultation to get to know each student’s needs and challenges to recommend the right action plan. We then match the most suitable tutor on our team to deliver lessons in an organised way.
We hope these tips are useful and gave you some fun and insightful ways to support your child during their secondary education. As always, we are here to answer any questions or concerns regarding your child’s educational development. Feel free to contact us at 02030867311 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, help and support.