Preparing for Secondary Education – a Quick Guide for Parents

With the whirl of current Year 6 events, upcoming Christmas holidays, and thinking about Year 7 next year, children can feel very excited, but a little nervous.

The Kennedy Transition Program is designed to help students familiarise themselves with the College campus, meet their peers, Head of Year and get to know their Year 11 Student Mentors so they can look forward to their first year in secondary education.

We encourage all students to attend both the Orientation, plus the Pre-start event. These events are unique, and far beyond the scope of a Campus tour. There will also be a Parent Information Session and an informal morning tea on Orientation Day.

As the College’s Transition Program seeks to prepare students for secondary education, parents can assist their children in getting ready for this next stage in the following ways.

  1. Be positive and enthusiastic. Your child is more likely to look forward to attending transition events and starting their secondary education when you are positive and enthusiastic. It will help them to focus on the positives and the things they will enjoy, instead of concentrating on the unknown. If you are apprehensive, they will subconsciously pick this up and feel apprehensive themselves.
  2. Encourage independence and responsibility. Set up routines at home that help them to prepare well for their school day. For instance, ensure they check their timetable the evening before, and pack their College bag with the appropriate equipment and have uniforms clean and ready to wear. If they have to take a bus to College and they are not used to doing this on their own, have a practice session in the January holiday break. Though these buses do not run right into the College grounds during the holidays, they can get used to where to catch and get off the bus, and the travel route. Once your child receives their timetable in early December, suggest they search Kennedy’s website for a current College map so they can become more familiar with the classroom layout and track their first week’s timetable.
  3. Set in motion pre-start preparation.
    By early November, you would have receive information about

In early December you will receive your child’s timetable and booklist. They can then name all their booklist items and cover books, if desired.

  1. Allow unrushed time for sharing so you can talk through any issues, both real and imagined. This allows your child to verbalise and recognise their feelings and any fears they may have and helps them to work out strategies ahead of time.
  2. Talk about making new friends, including how to maintain ‘old’ friendships whilst making new friends at Kennedy. When the sheer number of students seems a little overwhelming, remind them that they have just a few students in their mentor group who they can spend time within those first days. The Year 11 Mentors are always around at breaks to help them out as they settle in.
  3. Encourage your child’s self-discipline and responsibility.
  • Your child can prepare a dedicated homework/study area at home where they can ‘own’ their space
  • Train your child to independently display their timetable in the study area for managing homework schedules, daily preparation and packing their bag
  • Display a calendar to keep track of the due-dates for different subjects’ tasks, assignments and other important College-related dates
  • Encourage self-reliance and responsibility. Praise your child when you see them making decisions that show they are taking responsibility for their own learning. Offer support as they navigate this new world of secondary schooling.
  1. Have an emergency plan. Make sure your child understands who they should contact and what they should do in an emergency. Be calm and matter-of-fact about issues such as ringing an emergency contact or catching public transport if you are unable to arrange a lift for them. Make sure the College has your emergency contact’s current contact number.
  2. Maintain communication. We’ve heard the lament of parents of older secondary students, such as: “My son only grunts, now – he will not talk to me”. In addition to the academic, social and physical changes your child is learning to manage, they are starting to spread their wings of independence, which is a positive progression when you consider that, in just a few short years, they will be independent adults making their own way in the world. Maintaining open communication with your child as they begin secondary education and during the years beyond is vitally important, however, can feel like you are not getting anywhere at times. A tip is to, instead of asking closed questions, such as: “Did you have a good day at school today?” and getting a non-committal ‘Yep”, try using open-ended questions, such as:
  • “Did anything funny/exciting/interesting happen at school today?”
  • What did you learn in Science today?
  • Who did you play/hang out with today? etc.

When your child is grappling with a problem, resist the urge to jump in and save them with a quick fix by offering suggestions. As parents, it can be difficult to let go and let our children make their own mistakes, be accountable for those mistakes and effectively, to grow up. It is important to start to develop your child’s problem-solving skills and mature accountability. Instead, ask them what they could do to help themselves feel better or deal with the problem. Listen to their ideas and ask if you can help in any way. By doing this, you are showing that you are there if they need you but communicating that you respect and trust them in their problem-solving, which will build resilience and independence.

  1. Prepare yourself as a parent.
    The transition from primary to secondary school is a major move. Kennedy staff consider it a privilege to partner with families in wanting their children to be safe, happy and to develop - both academically and socially — into the best young adult that they can be. The adaptation for both students and parents alike will take time. To minimise the feeling of the unknown and familiarise yourself with your child’s new school, you can make use of available opportunities, such as:
    • attending the Orientation Parents Morning Tea and Information Session
    • attending the Day 1 Commencement Ceremony
    • attending the Meet the Teachers Afternoon Tea
    • reading fortnightly Newsletters and College communications (via our website, Kennedy App, SEQTA and Parent Lounge. Information in regard to these platforms and Apps will be issued later this year)
    • volunteering at the Café; Research and Study Centre; Community Open Day and other events where parent assistance is encouraged and appreciated

Without minimising the magnitude of the primary-secondary transition, our experience at Kennedy suggests that children are far more adaptable and resilient than parents would normally give them credit. Your position as a parent with a child entering secondary school is testimony to your own adaptability and resilience as you too, travelled a similar journey a generation ago.

Mr Mark Ashby
Principal