The transition from primary school to secondary school is a major life transition for our young people. While it is an exciting time filled with possibility and potential it can also bring on unfamiliar feelings for some. While some people breeze through this time with an easy confidence, others can be dwelling on the difficult aspects of change. Leaving the comfort zone of primary school may be the first time that they have faced a major life change since transitioning from kindergarten.
It is important to validate any feelings that arise for young people in the face of this change. Often, as adults, we will tell young people to stop worrying, as if all of a sudden they will simply stop worrying just because we told them. Of course, we don’t want them to worry and we would like them to face this new challenge with confidence. We jump in quickly to tell them not to worry to feel like we are doing something to alleviate their distress.
There is a saying that there is nothing more certain in life than change and taxes. Each time in life when we are faced with change we will experience these mixed emotions of nervousness, worry, excitement, anticipation or fear, whether it be starting a new school, moving to a new area, starting a new job or driving a car in the city for the first time. It is normal and natural to feel some worry or nervousness when we are faced with the unknown. These feelings are there to tell us that the new situation we are stepping into is important to us and we want to do well.
It is useful to notice and name these feelings and to explore what are the biggest fears. It could be worry about leaving old friends, worrying about how to make new friends, or worrying about coping with the greater demands of a high school curriculum. Once these have been validated and normalised some conversation about how to combat these fears can take place. It is important to allow young people to brainstorm possible solutions to their own challenges and support them if they require some skill development.
While both primary and secondary schools will be offering a range of transition programs to support Grade 6 students in the transition to secondary school, many students will be having similar feelings of apprehension and most schools are well prepared to help smooth the transition. If you, or your Grade 6 child, need some additional support at this time please give me a call to arrange a supportive, individualised counselling appointment.