Whether starting primary school, secondary school, further education, changing schools, classes, or leaving school altogether, the upcoming period of transition and change is an exciting but challenging time for children.
Most children will be looking forward to these changes and recognise them as part of growing up. However, like any change, transition brings a sense of uncertainty, and this can cause children to feel anxious. If transition is not carefully managed, these feelings can have a negative impact on wellbeing, achievement, and attendance.
Several studies over the years have highlighted that there is a common dip in attainment at the time of primary to secondary transitions. This is largely attributed to:
- Lack of curriculum continuity
- Changes in academic expectations
- Lack of familiarity with new systems and routines
- Challenges in building peer relationships
An emotional health study by The Prince’s Trust also highlights that primary to secondary transitions can have a negative impact on self-esteem, as children struggle with concerns about not fitting in or being judged.
There are, however, lots of things that schools can do to help children and young people prepare for transition;
Engage with parents and carers
It is important for schools to work with parents and carers as there are many ways that they can support children from home. Simple activities like maintaining routines, bedtimes, and creating a family calendar can help ease children through the transition phase as they know what to expect each day. Routines also help to promote good physical and mental health.
Parents should also be encouraged to participate in family induction days to get to know new teachers, parents, and school systems with their children. Parents are often heavily involved in primary school life; they walk their children to school and chat with teachers and parents in the playground. When starting anew school or class, it is important for children to have continuity. Introducing parents to teachers and the school pastoral team also allows them to share any concerns they may have.
It is also important for parents and carers to start conversations that pave the way for children to explore their thoughts and feelings. Children can ask different questions they might have and discuss their worries about upcoming transitions.
Use wellbeing lessons to build resilience and self-esteem
Wellbeing and PSHE lessons provide and opportunity for schools to support children inbuilding the resilience, confidence, and self-esteem skills they need to cope with changes. By building planned changes like classroom and teacher swaps into the curriculum, schools can provide children with opportunities to practice and familiarise themselves with these skills.
Surveys also provide a great way for schools to gain insights into pupils’ experiences, open conversations and strengthen relationships. With the largest repository of research-based surveys, our platform provides several pre-loaded questionnaires, which can help teachers measure the impact of these lessons, check-in with children, and build a picture of how they are coping in the run-up to transition. Many of these surveys are available to download for FREE in paper format on the resources page of the BounceTogether website.
Using the insights gained from surveys, schools can prepare children for their first day in a new environment by creating tailored challenges for them to complete over the summer. Creating a visual copy of what to expect on their first day can also help children prepare in advance of entering a new setting.
Work with other local schools
By working closely with other schools in the area, teachers can set up social events, such as taster days, talks, or question and answer sessions, that allow children to explore their new setting, as well as meet peers and teachers before the new term.
Embedding collaborative, play-based learning into taster sessions and introductory activities can help children socialise and form new friendships. This builds an all important sense of school connectedness, which can help to improve pupils’ overall wellbeing and learning experiences.
Collaborating with other schools can help teaching teams identify and communicate concerns about pupils who may require additional support. Schools can also set up buddy systems with other schools so new pupils have a familiar face and role model to support their transition.
Transition is an inevitable part of a child’s life and it is, therefore, important that schools equip children with the skills and information to experience positive change as they move through their education.
We will be hosting a webinar to bring together three experts in a discussion of practical strategies and ideas to help you support children through transition. You can book a FREE place - Here