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Starting secondary school after lockdown

Starting high school is a major moment in any child’s life. It’s a time filled with mixed emotions – excitement and anxiety. With schools having been closed for the last few months this will make the change feel even bigger than usual. They’ll be going from being one of the biggest in a smaller primary school to one of the smallest in a bigger secondary school. And the structure of their days will be different. So it’s okay that they’ll be a bit nervous. You’ll probably be nervous too!

Kids starting secondary school after the summer holidays won’t have had the usual preparation that kids in previous years have had. But there are things you can do to help make the move easier for them.

What if my child is nervous about starting secondary school?

Even the most confident P7 may be a wee bit worried about starting secondary school. As schools have been closed, they won’t have had the things like induction days that they normally would. Just reassure them that everybody starting school has been through the same situation.

There’s no point pretending that primary and secondary schools aren’t different. But there’s no need for them to be scared. There are plenty of practical things you can do to help smooth the transition and ease any worries they have.

In this short film, secondary school teacher Chris Smith has lots of great practical advice for helping your child get ready to go back to school, including how to manage that tricky transition from P7 to S1. Teachers like Chris are ready to welcome your children back and offer them the support they need.

Tips for starting secondary school

Tip #1: Talk to them

Ask them how they feel about starting school. Let them know that you’re there to speak to them about anything that might be worrying them. Concerns about making new friends and bullying are all normal, and it’s important they know you’re there to chat anytime they want to. We have more advice about helping your child get back into the habit of spending time with others after lockdown on our supporting your teen during coronavirus page. 

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Tip #2: Go through the first day

Talk to them about what their first day will be like. Even being clear on what they’re going to wear and what route they’ll take in the morning will help settle their nerves a little – you could do a practise run?

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Tip #3: Be positive

You may have your own worries about them going back to school. But it’s important that you try to stay positive. Ask them what they’re looking forward to, the subjects they think they’ll like, for example.

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Tip #4: Stick to your routine

It’s been a while since they had to get up and get ready every morning. Getting into a good morning routine leading up to starting school will help make the first few days easier.

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Tip #5: Be prepared

Help your child get everything they need to start. Their school will let you know what equipment is needed, like pens or calculators. Let them pick any new stationery or a new rucksack. This will help them feel a bit more confident on their first day. If you’re worried about money at the moment take a look at our financial support page to find out about any support you might be eligible for.

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Tip #6: Be involved

Be interested in their new timetable, who they already know at school, or their teachers' names. This is a new change for both of you, and the more engaged you are the more supported they’ll feel.

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Tip #7: Keep checking in

Some kids will settle in very quickly, while others may take longer. Keep checking in with them about how their day was. Don’t pry too much, but show them you are interested. This will help show them they can talk to you if they want.

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Supporting your child

There is a lot for teenagers and young people to deal with at the moment. If you’re worried about how your child is coping, or you’re worried they’ve become a bit withdrawn, we have some advice on our page about supporting your teenager’s mental wellbeing. If you’re still concerned you can contact their school and speak to their guidance teacher about any worries you have.

Last updated: 6 Aug, 2020