6 common concerns around transition to secondary school

Transition to secondary school is one of the biggest transitions a student will face in their lives. Whilst some children find the process very easy, many more can find this time quite daunting and stressful, and then you have others who are somewhere in between.

Common concerns

During my ‘Getting Organised for Transition Workshops’, usually in the later part of the school year, with Grade 6 students, I have found that these 6 common concerns around transition pop up time and time again during discussions.

  1. Will they be able to make friends? For some students, they are going off to secondary school on their own, and not with other students from their primary school and this in particularimage of 3 girls at school around transition to secondary school is a concern to them. Reassurance is needed that they are not the only ones and it is useful to remind them that they actually already know how to make friends and can do it again.  For other tips to assist them to make friends click here to read.
  2. Worried about the amount of the homework they will get. This comes up in nearly every discussion with grade 6 students. They are concerned that there will be a dramatic increase and that it will take up all their spare time.  The other concern they have is that it will be too hard for them as well.  They need to know that homework is going to increase and that it is good to begin developing a good homework routine early that will then allow them to have time for the other activities that are important to them.  Organisation and good time management is key!
  3. Going from being the oldest and biggest to the youngest and for some the smallest too.  The children are currently used to being the bigger ones at primary school usually in both age and size.  So thinking about going to secondary school this will be flipped on its head again.  Recently I had a boy stand up to demonstrate this concern to me by showing me how small he was now to his current classmates so he is feeling daunted by having even larger students towering over him.
  4. I won’t know my way around and will get lost easily.  Even though by now these children have often had one or two visits to the secondary school they will go to next year they are still concerned about not knowing where things are.  The size of the school will probably be double or triple in both size and numbers of students to what they are currently used to.  These concerns around new surroundings are normal even though it won’t take them long when they are there every day to become familiar.  Many schools will give the students maps they can familiarise themselves with too.
  5. Image of secondary school lockers for transitionThey have concerns around using lockers and forgetting their locker codes.  Whilst many students are excited about having the opportunity to have their own lockers they are often a little concerned at the same time.  They are currently used to having access to both their tubs and school bags inside their classrooms so having lockers is going to be quite a change for them.  They do not currently have locks and are often worried that they will forget their combination codes.  Fortunately, the school keeps record of them and has a master code (or bolt cutters) if needed.
  6. Getting detention. This is a common worry for students and gets raised time and time again.  I had one child ask me recently if he was going to get detention for making mistakes in his homework.  Naturally I reassured him that this was not the case and that by making mistakes that is actually how one learns.  I also usually tell them that if they continue to do the right things then detention won’t be an issue thy need to actually worry about.

What you can do now

The main messages that I give to students, teachers and parents at this time of year is to continue communicating and talking about all of these concerns and feelings they have.   Naturally any discussions should highlight they are not alone and that these feelings are very normal for this time of year. Where possible it also helps to be positive and encouraging to assist with the process.

For any assistance with transition, prior to or after, please don’t hesitate to get in touch as I offer a variety of workshops as well as 1:1 sessions with students.