Articles for parents

Helping children to make the transition to First Year at secondary school

Aug 2023

Moving from Sixth Class to First Year in secondary school can be a difficult transition for children. Fortunately there are many ways that parents can help to make the process as smooth as possible.

Professor Julian Elliott, an educational psychologist at Durham University, says: "For many children, secondary school represents a step towards autonomy and the whole process of growing up and leaving childhood behind."

How can you help children to overcome their fears as they move from Sixth Class to First Year?

  • Help children make friends at their new school by encouraging them to take part in after-school activities.

  • Talk in positive terms about their new school, highlighting facilities, trips and other top aspects, even if it wasn't your first choice of school.

  • Practice taking the route to their new school before their first day, ironing out any concerns they may have.

  • If possible, create a homework space at home that includes a good quality desk. Activities to help children focus will also ensure that they maintain their concentration levels.

  • A homework timetable may also help your child to organise their day more effectively as they may have homework to complete for several subjects.

  • Boost your child's confidence by giving them praise for any achievements they have made at secondary school, such as researching a project independently or taking part in a sporting activity.

  • Arrange regular catch-up sessions where children can voice any worries they have or generally share how their new school is progressing. There may be issues that you can address with your child's form tutor. 

  • Use resources such as the internet and textbooks from your local library or school library to improve their understanding of the new curriculums. You can also ask schools if they are able to provide details of the range of topics that are going to be covered during the term so that both you and your child are fully prepared.