Despite all of the best research and preparation in the world, sometimes children don’t transition well into the new secondary school. It’s a nightmare to see a child come home from school looking lost and unhappy. We all want children to be excited about this new stage in their education. Fortunately, parents can do a lot to change this upsetting situation.
If your child isn’t settling into secondary school after two or three weeks, don’t wait and hope that things will get better. Time is precious. Every day that a young person feels out of place, lonely or lost in a new school is a long, long day. And generally the longer this horrible situation drags on, the harder it is to resolve. There will be reasons why your child is not ‘at home’ in the new school. The faster you identify these reasons, the sooner everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. The best way to solve this problem is to work with the school, not in isolation or against the school. Good schools see parents as partners in the education of children and will happily sit down with you to help you work out what’s going wrong.
Before contacting the school, however, play the detective a little. Here are 10 important questions to ask yourself… (These will all be addressed in greater detail in the articles: 5 steps to repair a rocky start to secondary school and 5 more steps to repair a rocky start to secondary school.
Has one negative experience rocked your child’s confidence?
Is your child missing friends from primary school?
Does your child currently have no friends at the new school?
Is bullying preventing your child from flourishing?
Is a clash with teachers upsetting your child?
Is your child worried about the work/grades?
Is your child self-conscious and upset about standing out in some way?
Is your child too tired to make the most of school?
Is your child worried about letting you down?
Is your child suffering from the ‘disappointed…secondary-school-is not-as-exciting-as-I-expected’ syndrome?
As you ask yourself these questions, look for signs that may give you hints as to what is upsetting your child. Ask yourself more questions like…
Has my child suddenly stopped mentioning school friends? Friendship woes can devastate a young person.
Does my child look angry or embarrassed when I ask what the teachers are like? Clashes with teachers can be addressed – sometimes they fade away with time too.
Is my child upset when the approaching school camp is mentioned? This could be a sign of bullying or an insecure child who has never been away from home without a family member.
Does my child suddenly not want to show me comments from teachers on recent school work? Perhaps your child is scared to show you a less-than-impressive result.
Make sure your child is in the right ‘mood’ before you gently approach with any searching questions. Pick your time well. See the article How to chat positively with a touchy teen.
After asking all of these questions, if you are still unable to identify what is preventing your child from settling into secondary school, do approach your child’s teacher. There is always a solution and teachers will be there to support you and your teenager.