Preparing Children for the Year 6 Transition to Secondary School

A table with a selection of school equipment

The year 6 transition to secondary school is a big change for children. After spending several years in the same school, and the same class, the end of year 6 can be a scary and daunting time as children prepare to move up to a completely new school, with new classmates. 

And whether you’re a parent or a teacher, you no doubt want to make the transition as smooth as possible for your children, or those in your class. So here are some tips to help you prepare children for the transition and make it easier for them to find their feet when they start year 7. 

Encourage Independent Learning in Year 6 

The secondary school learning experience involves much more independence than primary school children are used to. From year 7 onwards, children may be given more freedom and independence in how they learn and complete tasks. They’ll also need to remember to complete and hand in homework and bring in any items needed for certain lessons or activities, such as their PE kit and cooking ingredients. Secondary school timetables also mean children need to independently navigate their way to different classrooms on time. 

For children in year 6, this level of independence is a big jump. To help children prepare for it, you should encourage children to take on more independence in the classroom and at home. Children will also need to learn to take responsibility for their own actions because with increased independence comes a greater sense of responsibility. 

You could give children extra responsibilities, let them make their own decisions about their learning and free time and ultimately encourage them to do more for themselves. 

Help Children Build Their Organisational Skills Before the Year 6 Transition

Throughout primary school, children don’t really need to prepare for lessons or get anything ready — teachers take care of just about everything for them. However, secondary school is a different matter. 

Pens and pencils aren’t provided like they are in primary school — in secondary school, children need to make sure they have a fully equipped pencil case. Children may need to bring in books or workbooks for different subjects, and they’ll have more homework tasks to remember and complete on time. 

Once children move up to secondary school, they’ll be expected to have organisational and time-keeping skills. So it’s a good idea to get children to start developing their organisational skills before they progress to year 7. 

You could task them with setting up a study space at home where they can do their homework, and get them to use checklists for learning activities and home chores. Even simple organisational tasks like getting children to prepare their own lunch, school bag and clothes for the next day of school can help them learn how to organise their time. 

Teach Children to Cope With Challenges 

Challenges are frustrating, but children need to learn how to cope with them before the year 6 transition. Secondary education involves learning more advanced concepts that are going to push children’s academic abilities. And for them to achieve academic success, they need to be able to overcome challenges without becoming overwhelmed or frustrated. 

So one of the best ways to prepare children for the move up to year 7 is to teach them healthy ways to cope with challenges. It’s a good idea to talk to them about their feelings and encourage them to take deep breaths, count to 10 or, if possible, go for a walk when they start to feel stressed or overwhelmed. You could also reassure children that it’s okay to ask for help when trying to overcome difficult problems. Encouraging children to adopt a growth mindset can also improve their confidence and help them tackle challenges with a positive attitude.

Talk to Children About What to Expect From Secondary School

Part of the reason children can feel stressed and anxious about moving up to secondary school is because they’ll be entering the unknown. They don’t know what to expect. They may have heard rumours from friends or older siblings, or they may have seen films that depict secondary school. But they might not know what to believe, or what to expect from secondary school in terms of the teachers, lessons and other pupils. 

Talking to children about how secondary school differs from primary school can remove a lot of the uncertainty and help them feel happier about the transition. 

Encourage Children to Attend Year 6 Transition Days

Some schools offer transition days to year 6 students — these are days that children spend at the secondary school they’ll be going to. They’ll get to see the building, meet some secondary school pupils and teachers and get a better understanding of how secondary education is structured. These days can ease children into the transition and make them feel less nervous when they eventually enter year 7. 

Master the Curriculum offers a range of year 6 maths resources that can prepare children for secondary school by helping them embrace independent learning, develop their organisational skills and problem-solving abilities and learn to cope with challenges. Sign up for a Master the Curriculum membership and access primary school maths resources today!

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