Family life, Parenting

The big move to secondary school – ten things I’ve learnt from the first year

Moving to secondary school can be tough – not just for the kids. I cried my eyes out last September watching Harry get on the bus for the first time.
Here are 10 things I’ve learnt since then.

  • There’s a lot to remember
    Primary school is a doddle let’s face it and it comes as a bit of a shock when kids are swept from this safe haven and catapulted into another world.
    They have to remember all manner of things from where to go, what equipment to take and where to find lunch. Four weeks in and we had tears because he ‘just couldn’t remember everything’ PE kit, tech equipment, homework, locker key, lunch money and bus fare. It does get easier though.
  • The first term is tough – hold out for January
    Harry moved from a small rural school with just over 200 pupils to a school with more than 1,000 pupils. There were also lots of rules; lose your tie and you’re fined £5, late for lessons or forget a piece of kit – that’s a detention.
    If that’s not enough, the move coincides with bits of hair sprouting from places it didn’t before. It really is a tough time. Things eased for us in the second term when he knew the ropes a bit better.
  • Uniform is expensive
    All in all we spent £250 on school uniform which is a bit different from the usual £60 on a few polo shirts and some trousers. The PE kit alone cost an arm and a leg as ours included a rugby shirt, football boots, football socks. Then you have a calculator, stationery, school bags on top of the actual uniform which, for us was a blazer, shirt and trouser. Our school offered second hand uniform at one of the open evenings – buy everything I would say.
  • You won’t find out very much
    At primary school my son talked to me about what was happening in his life fairly regularly.
    Arriving at secondary school coincides with a total lock-down on information. It is like pulling teeth getting anything at all out of him; although this just could be a boy thing.
  • They know it all
    When you are 11 you know everything – apparently.
    This was quite a shock for me as I was used to Harry coming to me for help and advice. Any attempt to offer advice is now often met with an eye roll. So just to recap; they know everything, you know nothing.
  • There are parts of their lives you don’t know about
    The Mums from primary school are some of my closest friends. We go out together and even go on weekends away. If I walked by the parent of one of his new friends I wouldn’t have a clue who they were. I don’t even know what some of these kids look like. It’s just how it is.
  • It’s different for you as well
    Parents’ evening for starters was a totally different experience. No perching on tiny chairs in a classroom. We were given appointments and let lose in the hall; it was every man for himself. Some teachers didn’t know who Harry was until they checked their list.
    Also you can forget any friendly chat when phoning in to report illness. Full name, form and nature of illness thank you.
  • They are ready for it
    Harry was bored of primary school and although it has been a huge and sometimes difficult transition to secondary school he was well and truly ready for it. He had simply outgrown primary school in all ways and it was time to move on.
  • They start to discover who they are much more
    Harry loves tech, science and maths, hates music and will tolerate French. He hates cricket (everyone else is really good) but loved javelin and high jump (he’s very tall).
    I really feel he’s started to find his place in the world, what he does and doesn’t like and it is a joy to see him flourish in areas he loves.
  • And lastly…..you are far more worried than they are
    I was beside myself on the first day and not much better on the second; I still worry now. For them though it’s a huge adventure. They might be a bit apprehensive but nowhere near as worried as the tearful parents waving them off from the bus stop.
  • Starting secondary school
    The first day of secondary school

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