Families, Families Hub 26 March 2024

Supporting your child in their transition from junior to senior school

The transition from junior or prep school to senior school marks a significant milestone in a child’s academic journey, presenting new challenges and opportunities for growth. ISEB has supported thousands of pupils and their families to effectively and confidently navigate the change from junior or prep to senior school, and we know it can be both an exciting and daunting period for parents and children. 

As the parent or guardian, your support and guidance are crucial in helping your child navigate this transition smoothly. In this article, you will find useful information and tips to help you support your whole family optimally during this time. 

First and foremost, open communication is key. 

Initiate conversations with your child about their feelings, expectations, and any concerns they may have about the upcoming change. Encourage them to express themselves freely and reassure them that it’s normal to feel a mix of emotions, including excitement and nervousness. By actively listening to their thoughts and concerns, you can address any fears they may have and provide the necessary support. 

Familiarise yourself and your child with their new school school.

You can familiarise your child with their new environment by arranging visits to the senior school before the official start date in the autumn term. Most senior schools will hold open days throughout the year, activity sessions and school tours, which you and your child can attend together. This can help them become acquainted with their new school campus and understand where they will need to go on day one. This is also an excellent opportunity to tour any boarding facilities if your child will be living on-site and meet some of their new teachers face-to-face. 

Get involved!

Encourage your child to explore their senior school’s extracurricular activities and clubs before they join in the new academic year. Many senior schools will have information on their websites regarding the extracurricular clubs they have available, and it can be a fun activity to go through these with your child to find out what they might like to get involved in when they start in the autumn term.

Participating in sports teams, music ensembles, or academic clubs can help your child make new friends with similar interests and develop a sense of belonging in their new school community. Additionally, involvement in extracurriculars promotes personal growth, builds confidence, and fosters a well-rounded educational experience, and most importantly, they are fun for your child! 

Routine, routine, routine.

Establishing a constructive routine that supports your child’s school journey can be a confidence-boosting powerhouse. Try to create a routine that will work for your family before their new term, as this can help your child feel confident and reassured when they start on day one. 

If they are a day pupil, help them organise their schedule, including study time, homework assignments, and extracurricular activities. Building a routine can help your child take ownership of their responsibilities and alleviate stress by ensuring they have ample time to wind down after school. If they are a boarder, familiarising yourself with their schedule can help you offer support when needed. Your chosen boarding senior school may also provide additional support or the opportunity to meet boarding staff before the new term; contact them directly to find out more. 

Build independence.

Developing independence and initiative will help your child get the most out of their senior school experience. Encourage them to speak up for themselves and explore what interests them, whether it’s asking questions during lessons, seeking help from teachers, or expressing their needs and concerns to you. Teaching your child to advocate for themselves empowers them to take ownership of their education and confidently navigate challenges.

Patience is a virtue.

Lastly, try to be patient and supportive throughout the transition process. Understand that adjusting to a new school environment takes time for your whole family, and there will be ups and downs along the way. Your encouragement, confidence, and unconditional support are invaluable to your child’s well-being and development as they navigate this significant milestone in their academic journey.

The Parent Power Toolkit: Looking ahead

For more recommendations, tips, and research-backed resources to support your child during their move from junior or prep school to senior school, explore the fourth part of the Parent Power Toolkit, which focuses on recognising outcomes and looking ahead. 

Click here to find out more about the Parent Power Toolkit!

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