Prepare Your Tween for Secondary School

Lynn Schreiber

The move from the slightly cosseted existence of primary school to the adventures of secondary (or high school) can be difficult for children to navigate, even with the transition programmes that many schools have in place. What can YOU do, to help the move go more smoothly, and best prepare your tween for secondary school?

First, have your child read our tips for moving to secondary school, written by someone who knows all about the worries that they have,  12 year old Josie.


Take Their Fears Seriously

This isn’t the time to brush them off with a casual, “Oh, you’ll be fine! In my day, we didn’t have transition days, and we managed!” It’s been a while since you were in school, so you may have forgotten how worried you were – or perhaps you are a breezy, optimistic type who really didn’t worry about things. It doesn’t mean that your teen will feel the same way.

Find out What Worries Them Most

Josie covered some of the common worries, in her post on Jump! Mag, but perhaps your child has other concerns. They might not even be able to articulate exactly what is worrying them, so go through a few topics, such as

  • Getting to school
  • Making friends
  • School lunches and how to pay for them
  • Taking a mobile phone
  • New uniform

Build their Confidence

If the school is in another area of town (or even a bus ride away in a neighbouring town or area), then do a ‘trial run’, so that you know how long the school run will be, and if your child can manage to do it themselves.

Connect with Friends

They might be moving up to the new school with their friends from primary, but if they aren’t, can you find anyone in the local area whose child will be starting school with your child? Talk to your child about making new friends, and how many others will be in the same boat. Suggest that they join lunchtime clubs or activities that interest them, as it’s a great way to connect to like-minded kids.

Get Prepared Early

Don’t leave it till two days before the end of the holidays to get the uniform sorted, and then have to rush around town in a panic because everywhere has sold out of the skirt that the school stipulates. Particularly when schools are strict about uniform, you don’t want to send your child in wearing a non-conforming uniform on the first day. They will stick out like a sore thumb, and be terribly embarrassed.

Ditto all equipment and gadgets. If you know anyone with older kids, ask what they need in school. Most schools will expect kids to have a geometry set and a calculator, along with their pencil case and other stationary. They may have to look up an actual paper dictionary for homework, so don’t rely on just having the internet!

New Demands and Experiences

Will they take a packed lunch, or is that seen as being ‘terminally uncool’? If they have lunch in school, be prepared with lots of spare coins. Some schools have payment systems, so that kids can pay with a pre-paid card, but the machines only take coins, not notes. (Note to school tech people – WHO DESIGNED THIS SYSTEM?!)

Find out if the school will allow them to take mobile phones, and what their restrictions are, and stick to it. Many schools have a policy in place, and inform new pupils at the beginning of term. It can be a reassurance for parents to be able to contact kids, when they are setting out to school alone for the first time, but it’s not mandatory, and not all kids will have phones.

Get Organised

Get into the habit of doing homework – this could be a calendar in the kitchen, that they add their homework tasks to, or a shelf or box on their desk that they use as a todo box. Once they are into a routine for doing their homework, they’ll find it easier to keep it up. See also our top tips on Jump! Mag on getting organised. 

Be Kind

Remember when your child first started school, and came home exhausted? For the first few weeks, this could well be how your tween feels. The new routine will take some time getting used to, and perhaps they need to get up earlier to get to school in time. Clear the schedule of other activities, and leave them lots of down-time to recharge their batteries.


Any other tips? Let us know in the comments, or join our Facebook group  to take part in the conversation. 

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