Primary to secondary transition gap is huge

Most of the new Secondary One students will confess that primary to secondary transition represents a major milestone in their young lives. This also means that he or she has to cast aside the old childhood habits and become more independent and mature in their behavior.

Over the years, about 80% of our Secondary One students and their parents would find it challenging to cope with this transition. Starting the secondary school journey marks a big change as students adapt to a different routine from studying four subjects in primary school to now an eight to nine subjects!

On top of this, the secondary school novice must also commit to one or more co-curricular activities (CCAs) which would mean having to spend longer hours in school. In a nutshell, a new secondary school student would soon realize that he or she has to adjust to:

  • more subjects (from four subjects in primary school to about eight or nine in secondary);
  • longer school hours;
  • more commitment and time required for CCAs;
  • more homework;
  • greater peer influence
  • greater independence on the part of a student
  • more emphasis on critical thinking skills

Make or Break in Secondary Education

Why is secondary education so important? This is because these are the foundation years before one makes a big decision for education that affects the career later in life. Secondary education can in fact, change one’s life forever!

For the past 8 years, we have encountered many frustrations from our students and their parents. We can resonate the difficulties and challenges they face. As an educator, we are concerned not only on providing help in their academic subjects, we care for the well-being of our students too.

On the basis of our past experiences, we would like to share the 7 tips (T-R-A-N-S-I-T) for parents to better assist their child transit from Primary to Secondary School. We hope that you would find them useful to help in this primary to secondary transition.

#1 Time Management

Due to longer school hours and increase number of subjects and CCAs, your child might need time to adjust to the new schedule. And because these subjects are also new to them, it might also take them a longer time to complete each assignment for the variety of subjects.

It is therefore important to equip children with good time management skills. Pre-plan on priorities, setting aside time for homework, revision and rest.

#2 Rules of the game

As the kid grows older, he will be pushing boundaries. Being a friend to your own child may help ease those teething transition periods. At this stage, it may be important for parents to adopt a more flexible parental approach. Parents have to treat their children with respect when guiding them.

Talking to your children can also help them cope with other personal challenges. Boundaries are an important part of creating clarity between you and your child as you both navigate a time of great change. By setting and agreeing on boundaries together, you create a ‘contract’ of expected behavior that can help avoid conflict. While boundaries help parents to feel more in control of their teenager’s behavior, they also help them by:

  • letting them know that you care about them, and you are concerned about what they’re doing even when you’re not together.
  • making them feel safe and supported.
  • helping them make informed and sound decisions.
  • providing them a framework within which they have autonomy.

#3 Acquire people’s skills

Teenagers typically spend more time with their peers than they do with their parents, siblings or other social contacts. Therefore, friends influence many aspects of a teenager’s life. Healthy friendships can help teenagers avoid delinquency, isolation and many of the negative characteristics that are associated with this period of life. Healthy friendships help teenagers feel accepted and confident and can pave the way for the development of other positive social ties.

Therefore primary to secondary transition means acquiring people’s skills. This includes effective communication skills with their peers. How to handle and manage expectation from friends is also important. Peers pressure are real and a growing child want to have a sense of belonging.

#4 Nurture them

Some students might face several issues daily that negatively impact them in their learning in schools. While time spent at school is a fond memory and a happy experience for most, a student’s life is not without its rough patches.

Secondary school is also a place where students begin to discover themselves as they grow into a teenager. It is sometimes important for parents to compromise, to allow the child stumble through on his own so that he can learn through personal experience. Otherwise, the child will not have a true learning experience. Patience is the key. Always encourage them.

#5 Sleep for a better tomorrow

As school gets more intense, children may find themselves staying up later to complete their assignments or revision for the various subjects.

It is, however, important for parents to help teens cultivate healthy lifestyle habits. One cannot deny the importance of sleep as it is essential for a healthy life. Every person requires the right amount of sleep so that they can rest properly and get up with a fresh mind. On the other hand, if you do not have a sound sleep, you feel irritated, are unable to focus on your work and become stressed out. When children take good care of their minds and bodies, they are able to focus better and have better energy.

#6 Independency

We all know that life and growing up involves a series of risks. It is part of their life education that will equip them to make better decisions later.

However, learning to let go is a very hard thing and is probably the ultimate risk we have to take as parents and educators. It is like that eagle pushing her baby out of that nest, we will always have to let go in the interest of ensuring the survival of our young. We can be there, like the mother eagle, to catch them when they fall initially, but learn to fly they must, on their own.

This is part of growing up. Being independence isn’t about doing your own thing; it’s doing the right thing on your own. Yes, taking risks may entail setbacks but like the mother eagle seeking to benefit her young, we have to keep making that flight of faith with our children in their increasingly independent endeavors.  In developing independent learners, parents should recognize that effort and attitude matter more than grades.

#7 Tackle the issues

Singapore is known for its strong education system and is recognized around the world

In the recent changes implemented by Ministry of Education, we are moving towards an education system that is more flexible and diverse. The aim is to provide students with greater choice to meet their different interests and ways of learning. Indeed, this initiative will not only provide students understand their subject content better, it also helps students to cope with the workload as they progress.

It is important for students to achieve a balanced and less stressful study environment. But equally as important, is knowing when your child might need the extra help for his/her subjects. Therefore, parents are encouraged to engage in your child’s academic progress. Don’t wait to be surprised by his/her poor performance. The least a parent could do is to make a point to check on the homework and monitor the progress. Don’t be shy to communicate with teachers to understand your child’s progress instead of relying on test results. An early alert about your child’s inability to cope in his studies will provide you ample time to seek appropriate help. You may want to learn more about how we can assist your child if he/ she needs tuition here.

MOE has also announced to omit mid-year-exams (MYE) for Primary 3 and 5 and Secondary 1 and 3 students. In our separate post, we had discussed about this. You may read here.

Parents might also find that communication with teenagers is different from communicating with younger children and can cause conflict and stress. Thus, it is also important to be a good listener instead of one that is quick to interject or judge. This is especially important when communicating with teenagers.

Turn off the “parent alarm.” Listen without judgment and reaction. For example, when your son says, “Mom, I met this girl” and you react by saying, “You’re too young to date,” that instinctual alarm would prevent you from being able to hold a meaningful discussion on healthy sexuality. Give them time to explain their opinions, even if you think you know what’s coming next.

You may not think it’s important to listen to what your children have to say about school, friends, homework or what you consider “trivial” issues. However, these things are important to your children. If they know you aren’t listening about the little stuff, they probably won’t come to you about the big stuff. So, don’t forget to listen as they share it!