When I picked my kids up from school, my heart wanted to break for my poor boy after his first day. Plunged into the scary unknown he found himself without anyone he knew from his old school in his lessons. He did have one friend in his tutor group, but this only meets at form time in the begining of the day. The school runs a vertical tutoring group system where each group has 4-5 kids from each year group in it. The system works well for peer mentoring.
Back to day one, the building repair works, started during the holidays had overrun and some rooms were unavailable for teaching. Only the new year 7’s and the oldest Year 11’s attended yesturday. After initial school tours and photos lessons began. My son didn’t understand from his tutor that he would attend taster lessons. Of the four lessons, he had room errors in three of them. A shy child at best he had to tell the teacher he wasn’t on her list, or he turned up at the wrong room. My heart just broke when he said children had laughed at him. Naturally he wanted to curl up in a ball and die of embaressment. He most certainly didn’t want to return for a second day of torture.
As a caring mother I have been in touch with the school to see if he had the right timetable and asked them to make it clear when room changes occur, especially for the new kids. Then together with my oldest child we went over routes to lessons and where rooms were. He now has a multi-coloured map. He has bravely gone off today with the intention to make one new friend, not get lost and to make it through to the end of the day. Me? After very little sleep, I’m home and a blubbering mess!!
With my second child on the edge of giant change from a small primary to a large secondary, it makes me think about how I need to support him at this challenging time. I already have another child already at secondary so am quite relaxed about the transfer, but I am not my son. I am not the one who will need to make new friends, get to and from classes all over the school and survive in the big new school. I am not the one who must remember the right books, not loose my PE kit, listen to the teacher when they hand out homework instructions and remember to do that homework on time.
I can support my children by having a copy of their timetable where I can see it every morning to help them with the pre school check.
I can insist that we have a visible list that all homework is written on with due dates, and that each day we check it together.
I will have tea ready when they get home to refuel them after their long day. I will not ask them about their day until they have had some down time unless they want to talk about it straight away.
Lastly I will have all their uniform named and ready for the start of term. I will set a good example of calm and organisation. And I will always be there for a hug and reassurance.
Over the summer, you may need to start thinking about the move to a new school. Secondary schools hold open evenings very early on, usually in September, because you need to apply, online, by the end of October for your child’s place.
For some of you it will mean a huge step into the unknown, it could be frightening for you and your child. Do make an effort and go to meetings, they have a huge load of positive and helpful information. And most definitely attend the open evenings. Some schools also offer daytime tours. You may also be able to get a group of you together and ask for a tour at a separate date. If there are several schools from which to choose, check out the catchment areas and seriously look at the points system as to how your application will be considered. For instance; 1. Are you in catchment? Do you have a sibling already at the school? Do you have special religious reasons to attend the school? Does your child have special needs?
Also listen to what others are saying about the schools. Is this the school they are all raving about? BUT remember results only reflect the school year children who were tested, i.e. SATs and GCSE results. Also gossip about a school can often be out of date! When I chose a secondary school place, my catchment school was supposed to be second best in the area. For me personally, I found that they were prepared to work harder to raise their results and their reputation than the other school which assumed I would want my child to attend because they were already the best! My catchment school is NOT perfect, but I don’t know a school which can be! However my child is happy, thriving and achieving good results. She is an engaged learner who is now very independent and has only 1 year left to go.
So listen to your gut feelings as well and getting a feel for the school. Don’t rush decisions and try to get as much information as you can
Read “Tender Flames” by Stephanie Hurt last night on Kindle. A lovely easy read romance set in the world of horses and ranchfolk.
In my own world of writing the flow of words to laptop has been extremely slow due to the school holidays. But the ideas are buzzing and as September approaches and the start of the new school year looms, I’m sure the hours spent typing will begin again. I’ve got plenty of material lined up for “The Farmer” and shouting for attention at the back are the characters for “More Talk of the Playground” I’m sure if I don’t hurry up with that one then Good old Glenda Glossop will have something to say about that!
As a parent I have a whole pile of things to achieve before term starts. I haven’t started the name labelling of all the new uniform and we still have shoes to buy and other bits and pieces, plus everyone needs an eye test and a hair cut! We’ve certainly been in “chill-out” mode. Time to put down the cricket bats, pack up the picnics (well perhaps there’s time for just a few more!) and step back up a gear!