Top Tips

Building Confidence

  • Give praise willingly and often - never highlight your child's shortcomings or show frustration if they are struggling to get to grips with a new school subject, for example. Concentrate on what they are doing well and let them know how pleased you are with them, then make a concerted effort to work together on the subjects that don't come so naturally to them.
  • Devote proper quality time to them in the evenings - take the time out to read their essays or find out what happened in PE today. Did they score a goal in the football game? Don't pin everything solely on academic success - sports and extra curricular activities they have excelled at are equally worthy of praise.
  • Emphasise the fact that everyone makes mistakes - if your child has had a bad day and not done so well in something try not to be critical. The important thing to remind your child of is that sometimes failing at things is part and parcel of life - we can't be wonderful at everything!
  • Always give your full attention to your child when they are trying to express their concerns about something - don't brush their anxieties under the carpet and say "we'll talk about it later..." Your child will feel you're not taking their problems seriously and may not come to you in the future when they have a problem.
  • Encourage their independence and free thinking. Try to provide a stimulating home environment where their opinions on things - from current affairs to pop music - are listened to and integrated into adult conversation. Not only will this help your child to develop good social skills but it will give them a strong sense of self and help them to know their own minds. Remind them of the importance of not blindly 'following the herd'.
  • It's inevitable that your child will fall in and out of favour with different groups of friends during their secondary education. Girls in particular can be extremely cliquey and capricious at times so assure your child there is nothing 'wrong' with them if they're feeling excluded from the 'in crowd' or are having difficultly forming special friendships. Unfortunately this is one area where children really have to find their own way - and they will in time - but if you have any concerns at all that your child might be the victim of bullying be sure to deal with the matter as swiftly as possible. Read the Signs of Bullying section below for further information.

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Tips for Girls

Getting ready

Are you nervous or excited about starting school?

Probably a bit of both! In some ways it's a bit like starting in reception again - the other students will be older and know what's going on, while you have it all to learn. The good thing is that everyone in your class will be feeling the same way, and all the teachers know that you are new, so they will make it as easy as possible for you too.

You might find it helpful to think through whether you have everything you need for the first day. You could pack your pencil case and put it in your new bag. Are you going to buy lunch or take a packed lunch with you? If you need to take money to school for lunch, do you have a purse or wallet? If you will have a locker, have you got a padlock and how will you make sure you don't lose the key?

Then think about how you will get to school. Are you happy for your mum to take you if she can, or would you rather go with a friend? If you are going by bus, you might want to try out the route so you're really confident about getting there on time.

In fact, secondary school's generally start earlier than primary schools - will you need to get up earlier? What will you have for breakfast in the mornings?! And what about washing! Now you're more grown up, you might want to have a bath or shower each day - or you friends might want you to even if you're not so sure ;) Will you fit that in in the morning as well, or just before bedtime?

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