Adjusting to big life changes can be difficult. Whether you are a child moving onto the next stage of learning or a parent watching your child enter secondary school, it is important to address your feelings to make the transition phase easier for everyone.
So, what can parents expect during a child’s transition from primary school to secondary school?
Psychological and emotional changes
More independence: You might have gotten used to packing your child’s schoolbag, sending them to school, and ensuring that they complete assignments on time. After your child enters secondary school, he/she may not need you to be as involved as you were before . This does not diminish your value as a parent because your child still looks up to you as a role model and needs your guidance.
Increased awareness of emotions: Most primary school students were taught to describe feelings in simpler terms, such as ‘angry’, ‘sad’ or ‘happy’. After entering secondary school, your child might start to experience complex feelings such as loss, jealously, or regret, which can be harder for them to put into words. They might struggle coping with these emotions during the transition to secondary school .
Increased motivation to excel in school: Tests and assignments might carry more weight than they did back in primary school. As children become more mature, they learn to see things from a larger perspective and start to recognise the consequences of not studying hard . Your child might be more motivated to do well in school as a result of this new understanding.
How then can parents best support their child during the transition from primary school to secondary school?
Tips for parents with children moving to secondary school
Give your child space to grow: Let your child make certain decisions on their own to exercise their independence. Part of becoming independent is adopting good time management skills and developing self-discipline. However, because most children at this age need guidance in overcoming impulsive behaviours, parental supervision is still required. For example, you can help your child by giving a weekly allowance or setting boundaries when they hang out with their friends independently. This teaches your child to think consequentially and take responsibility for their actions.
Talk to your child: Set aside some time to ask your child how they are coping in secondary school. Listen and empathise with your child as they share their thoughts about the transition. Your child could have trouble making new friends or understanding concepts taught in class. Do your best to guide them and encourage them to express their emotions in a healthy, appropriate manner.
Support your child's academic endeavours: Your child will be learning new subjects in secondary school. Give your child time to adjust and keep your expectations realistic during this period. Encourage them to take charge of their learning by allowing them to create their own study schedule. You can always check in to see if they are managing their time well.
With a better understanding of how younger children may cope with big life transitions, you can develop ways to support your family through this period.
TOUCH Parenting aims to strengthen parent-child relationships by providing parents with relevant parenting resources through every stage of their parenting journey. It conducts informative talks and workshops which empower parents with knowledge on preparing for and raising a new-born, navigating the digital age with their child, parent-child communication, and nurturing resilient children and youths. It is also appointed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development as the Parent Support Provider (PSP) for Primary and Secondary schools in Singapore.
- Gordon, Sherri. “How to Allow Independence and Still Keep Your Teen Close.” Verywell Family, Verywell Family, 22 Apr. 2022, https://www.verywellfamily.com/how-to-allow-teen-independence-and-still-keep-them-close-4165998.
- Jamil, Muhammad Haikal Bin. “Psychological Impact of Primary to Secondary School Transition.” ImPossible Psychological Services, ImPossible Psychological Services, 6 Jan. 2020, https://www.impossiblepsychservices.com.sg/our-resources/news/2020/01/06/psychological-impact-of-primary-to-secondary-school-transition.
- Doheny, Kathleen. “Teen Brains: Seeing the Big Picture.” WebMD, WebMD, 15 Nov. 2010, https://teens.webmd.com/news/20101115/teen-brains-seeing-big-picture.