The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart. (Mencius, Chinese philosopher 372-289 BC)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

How To Help Your Year 7 Start Big School

The Dubmeister's first day at Big School
This time next week 11 year old children (or 13 year olds if they are starting at a very posh school) will be quaking in their squeaky clean tight new school shoes as they set off for their first day at big school.

Unless you are one of the coolest of the cool, big school is a terrifying prospect for any self respecting child. For the parent of next week's Year 7's (or Lower 4th's if you are starting at the aforesaid posh school) it is even more so! So in the interests of easing you into life as a parent of a secondary age child here is Dad Etc's guide to getting your Year 7 ready for big school.

1. Find out the name of your son/daughter's form tutor and Head of Year

One of the biggest changes for parents going through the transition from Junior to Senior School is the dramatic drop in contact time with your little darling's teaching staff. You will be lucky to see their form tutor more than twice in an academic year and are unlikely to see the Head of Year at all unless there is a specific issue that you need to discuss.
However, a friendly form tutor can be a great asset. So, I recommend that you make contact with them - nothing more than a brief note in the Homework Diary to say hello - so that you stand out as a friendly parent - it could prove helpful in the longer term.

2. Get to know the school rules

Secondary school is a minefield of rules and regulations for your young one. So, it is our duty as parents to do what we can to support the school and our child in the rules that we can affect at home. Most schools will have a list of rules in the Homework Diary/ Planner - get to know them.
Some of the basic rules that we can help our son/ daughter to keep to are:

  • Does the HW Diary need to be signed every week? If so, do it!
  • What are the uniform rules? Make sure you know them - very handy for the future!
  • What is the routine for absence from school? If they ask for a call on the first morning and a letter when they return to school - do it!

3. Keep on top of Homework

Homework is a fact of life at most schools. However, schools are not the fascist institutions that we believed them to be when we were 11 and 12. They do not expect our children to be working every hour that God sends to complete their graphs and essays. So, monitor their homework - are they getting any? If they are, how long is it taking? How long should it be taking? If it is regularly taking longer than advised then there is an issue - tell the school

4. Watch the Mobile Phone

The mobile phone has completely changed the experience for our children of adolescence. It is so easy for them now to keep in contact with their friends and research difficult homework tasks.
However, it has also come with Facebook, Messenger, Internet Porn and other nasties. 
Be very careful!
Watch what they are using it for and, 2 tips I was given by a colleague;
a) Never let them take their phones into their bedrooms at night - that way you have more of a chance of knowing what they are up to.
b) Insist that they make you one of their friends on Facebook.

5. TLC and Routines

Your little chap/chapesse is going to be absolutely knackered this term as they get into life as a little fish in an enormous and confusing pond. They will need lots of love and attention from you!
Get them to eat a big breakfast in the morning and get in their favourite food for the evenings.
Find a routine that works for your family so that they have some certainty in their lives.

Finally, on that first day, when you are sure that nobody is looking - give them a big hug and gulp back the tears until they are through the school gate.

Speak Soon

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