From primary to secondary –

From primary to secondary

Posted by Pénélope Venskus on

From primary to secondary

A significant change

Your child's transition to high school is quite a step! This transition can be experienced with great apprehension for both you and your teenager.

The transition to high school involves major changes in your child's life: new friends, new school, new teachers, change of schedule, no longer being one of the "big boys" and possibly traveling independently. According to Wallis & Barrett (1998), a substantial number of students may experience psychological and emotional difficulties during this period.

There are three types of transition related to the start of secondary school: 

Academic: Changes in teaching, assessment and subjects taught.

Social: new network of friends, new relationships with teachers 

Procedural: new school, new schedules, new rules of life. 

These transitions occur gradually over time. 

Perhaps the easiest transition to make is the “procedural” transition. This type of transition is more important in urban areas when the secondary school is very large.

According to Demetriou 2000, the challenges for students consist of the following: 

  • develop their degree of autonomy;
  • overcoming difficulties associated with the formation of one's identity ;
  • establish a sense of competence;
  • reflect on the relationship that should exist between friendship and school work.

This is why your support and supervision are still essential. According to Duval 2018, the results highlighted three ways parents can engage with their child at home:

1.School support;

2.School socialization;

3.Parental involvement in the school: parent-teacher communication is also highlighted as being non-negligible.

Here are also strategies you can apply to ease this transition:

  • Participate in open days;
  • Notify school staff, professionals and teachers of the specifics of your child; 
  • Review school rules;
  • Give time and comfort to your teenager by advising him in his decisions;
  • Identify landmarks: friends and activities he likes;
  • Support your child in organizing their school materials;
  • Talk about the different tools he will use: diary, homework bag, padlock, locker, school gate, etc. ;
  • Participate in the welcome party and prepare questions;
  • Check what resources are available for your child: orthopedagogy, tutoring, etc. It may be necessary to consult the private.

What will be new:

  • There are many more pupils than in primary schools;
  • Students will have several different teachers;
  • It is possible that there are several changes of premises in a day;
  • There will be optional courses and the choices should be made according to the strengths of the student;
  • There will be breaks between classes to move around and pick up your equipment in your locker;
  • He will be free at dinner time;
  • Homework and lessons can be spread over several weeks;
  • The schedule varies from school to school. You can verify the information with the school you selected;
  • The school day is divided into 4 or 5 periods varying from 60 to 75 minutes, over a cycle of 9 or 10 days

My child is more likely to adapt less well if…

  • He has behavioral difficulties;
  • He lacks motivation;
  • He has difficulty adapting on the relational and social level;
  • He is anxious;
  • He is shy;
  • He has accumulated a school delay.

After returning home:

  • Being interested in your new reality is the key to starting the relationship that you will have for the future;
  • What subjects does he like the most?
  • What are its challenges?
  • Who are his new friends?

What personal tools to consider:

  • A comforting object;
  • Earplugs or noise canceling headphones.

Trick! Why not find a student around you who is already in high school and whom we can ask questions?

Role of teachers:

The ability of teachers to support students is an essential element in promoting learning and school transition. Furthermore, students who feel supported by their teachers  also tend to be more motivated. Bru, Stornes, Munthe & Thuen, 2010, 519-520).

Good to know

Alloprof Parents offers practical services and resources to help, reassure and guide parents of children aged 6 to 17 free of charge.

For more information, visit:


Bru, E., Stornes, T., Munthe , E. and Thuen, E. (2010). Students' perceptions of teacher support across the transition from primary to secondary school. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 54, 6, 519-533

Demetriou, H., Goalen, P. & Rudduck, J. (2000).Academic performance, transfer, transition and friendship: Listening to the student voice.International Journal of Educational Research, [33(4), 425-441].

Duval, Joelle, 2018, Parental involvement to promote engagement during the primary-secondary transition: perceptions of parents and their teenager at risk of dropping out of school, Thesis

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.