From The School Psychologist

Transition from Primary to Secondary School: Professor Matt Sanders

The move from primary to secondary school can be a big scary step for many kids (and parents). It marks the transition from childhood to adolescence, and heralds the teenage years.

While some children might be excited about going to secondary school, it’s common for them to also feel apprehensive. The unknown can be daunting – things like a new and bigger school, new teachers and new friends can play on kids’ minds. It’s important to be aware of what they might be worried about so you can talk about it and, together, come up with solutions or ways to cope.

As a parent it’s totally normal to feel the same excitement or apprehension as your child. But it won’t take long for your child to adjust and you’ll wonder what you were ever worried about. But as a rule of thumb – kids are less anxious about big changes when their parents are confident in their kid’s ability to rise to the occasion. So if you seem calm and confident in them they will pick up on that.

You can help make the transition easier by being involved in the preparations but give them space once they are there. Take an interest in your child’s day, and find out about the school’s standards and expectations for things like homework and uniforms. But don’t do everything for them.

One thing kids should have a legitimate say in is choosing their subjects. Encourage subjects that interest them or will help them on their desired career path. However, if you are really worried about their choices you can seek advice from teachers about what might be best. And if you haven’t already, it’s important to establish a good homework routine. A good example is: come home from school, have an afternoon snack, and then do homework (before playing or watching TV). At the same time, it’s good for kids to have a school-life balance that includes things like sport, music and arts. Everyone will be happier for it.

Parenting Tip: If your child has an older sibling at the school that older sibling will have protective instincts. But it’s important for the younger sibling to learn to stand on their own feet. Only ask older siblings to keep an eye out for younger siblings if you think something is wrong.

Professor Matt Sanders is founder of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program®. For more information, go to or (Contact School Psychologist: Luciana Carelli).