Psychiatrist Dr Eddie Murphy advises on how to adjust to secondary school

Niall Carey, Dean Winters and Jordan Ikpomwen at the launch of the new Wriggle 1:1 Mobile Learning Programme in St. Marys CBS, Portlaoise.        Photo Kevin Byrne
Changing from primary to secondary school happens rapidly, in just two months. For many it can be stressful, given the amount of new challenges – school, culture, education philosophy, timetables, teachers’ demands and expectations.

Changing from primary to secondary school happens rapidly, in just two months. For many it can be stressful, given the amount of new challenges – school, culture, education philosophy, timetables, teachers’ demands and expectations.

The student is also going from childhood to adolescence with massive hormonal changes, and needs support and understanding

Some studies show that students’ academic progress in the first month of secondary school regresses as a result of the new challenges. But don’t let the transition stress you out. The following tips can be useful.

Friendships:

Anticipating the move to post-primary can cause anxiety for the majority of first-year students as well as excitement. One of the main anxieties is associated with the change in friendships. Try and remember that everybody has the same experience – everybody in your year is new, with the same worries as you. In most cases some of your primary school friends will have gone to different schools and it is important that you have a positive attitude towards making new friends. If you don’t know anyone, try speaking to someone from your class – imagine how much you would appreciate it if someone spoke to you. This could ease the tension and give you someone to share the new experiences with. Get involved in school activities (music, sport, debating), and you will meet new people with the same interests.

Be Yourself:

The most important thing to remember is to be yourself. Don’t try to impress others by showing off your skills or being a ‘try hard’. You will be spending a lot of time with the same people in the next few years. You have plenty of time to get to know each other.

Get Organised:

Factors such as disciplinary procedures, timetables, more difficult work and homework, having several teachers and subjects and changing classrooms all contribute to pre-transfer anxieties. In order to successfully prepare yourself you need to get organised. Use your timetable and diary to keep on track, take down the subjects you have and note the accompanying teacher. Take time to familiarise yourself with the layout of the school, where certain classes will take place as this will make you feel more comfortable and less stressed.

Tackling Bullying Early:

In addition to the above social issues such as concerns about bullying are also common. If such issues do arise there are a number of resources available to you within the school system. Meitheal leaders are available to assist you in any way necessary during your first few days in school and throughout the year. Additionally you can ask the student counsellor or one of the teachers to help you if you are struggling with school in any way – maybe you can’t manage the workload to start with, or can’t find your way around the new school. Help will be there if you ask.

Homework

It will pay to get into a routine regarding homework sooner rather than later. After-school study and revising will become part of the fabric of your child’s education in next few years so helping them to get into good homework habits early will reap huge rewards for your child, both on an academic and personal level.

Be Flexible :

Expect quite a bit of tiredness at the end of the day so cut them some slack at weekends and let things shift down a gear at home to accommodate the new weekday routine. This is a big life change and one which can be embraced and you and your child can take credit for successfully adjusting and flourishing.