The jump from Primary to Secondary School is massive. Your child goes from an environment where you know all the faces in their class, you recognise the parents of their peers and you know who their one teacher is. Compare that to Secondary School where you no longer know who your child is hanging around with, you’ve no idea who their teachers are (note the plural) and you haven’t the foggiest how to even contact the support department.
So if you’re feeling a bit daunted, think how your child is feeling….
Perhaps a uniform that feels awkward and stiff, an array of books and folders that weigh a ton and unfamiliar faces that may not get their quirkiness…
So with a week to go, I wanted to give you some tips to help with a smoother and successful transition.
Your child may feel worried, scared, uncertain. These emotions are healthy and normal. But they need to be shared. You may notice their behaviour changing and them becoming angry, rude, argumentative or may be shutting off and moody.
Create opportunities to talk. Don’t focus on the negative behaviour they are presenting – instead listen to what they are saying about how they feel.
Empower your child to talk about ADHD and how it affects their behaviour and emotions. Make it okay for them to say what they need and to ask for help.
Bust the stigma of ADHD in your family and normalise this neurodiverse condition so your child feels comfortable to let others know that they have an incredible, unique brain – but may need some support.
RELATIONSHIP WITH SCHOOL
Together with your child create a document or a letter outlining what ADHD is, what they need and how adults can help. You can scribe whilst they dictate.
Email this to the Head of Year and SENCO.
Request a meeting within the first 2 weeks of school to discuss what ‘reasonable adjustments’ your child needs and how there must be some flexibility with the Behaviour Policy. Punishments have no impact on changing behaviour (instead they make your child feel useless and rubbish).
If the staff have little or no understanding of ADHD then you may have a difficult time convincing them why your child is inattentive, impulsive, hyperactive, sensory seeking or sensitive and may get emotionally overwhelmed.
Ensure this is suitable and achievable. They may need a laptop or differentiated tasks.
Decide the best time to tackle it and create an area that has fewest distractions. Write the plan up so it’s visual and clear to see.
Do they need a high protein snack to aid focus and concentration. Or do they need something motivating to do afterwards as an incentive. Maybe your child finds it easier to focus with music on or may like white noise or complete silence.
If there are problems with homework, communicate immediately with school staff.
Practice the route to school. Take photos of noticeable landmarks and your child can familiarise the journey.
Print out a map of the school so they get to know where the different buildings are ahead of their first day.
This is a biggy as organisation is one of the executive functioning challenges your child may have.
Buy colour folders, boxes and files. Colour code each subject. Coordinate this with the timetable once they have been given it – so Geography is always green and so on.
Organise an area where equipment and resources will be stored. Label them if it helps. Organise a working area full of relevant stationery and equipment.
Get things ready the night before and have a place where the bags are stored near the front door.
Use lists, charts, post-its, alarms – whatever it takes to motivate your child to get organised.
If your child has sensory sensitivities, then alert the staff as soon as possible. Again, there needs to be flexibility with the Uniform Policy.
Practice getting dressed – put clothes where there are fewer distractions like the hallway and use a checklist.
Encourage your child to find their tribe. Support and promote their interests and things they naturally can do well at.
You may want to practice social skills – what things they should say and what things to avoid.
I hope that helps and your child has a smooth and successful transition to their new school.