Change including transitions for school students is a normal part of life! it’s an opportunity to grow and develop resilience. But according to the National Health Service (NHS), transitions through schools can be difficult for some children. Take into account the year 2020 and the rollercoaster we have all been on in regards to the change. This year is a little different for students going through their transitioning through the year that we are having.
It’s important to cultivate independence, self-care, and coping skills to ensure the mental wellbeing of students in the UK. This includes paying attention to their emotional intelligence—including the feeling of self-worth, ability to express/feel a range of emotions, coping with stress, adapting to change, engaging productively with others, and maintaining healthy relationships.
According to a report released by the UCL Institute of Health Equity, the main factors affecting the success of school transitions revolve around the family background and the stage of transition. For this reason, here’s a break down of the different stages of transition for students in the UK and how emotional intelligence plays a seminal role in each of them.
Primary Year 6-7
In the UK, primary education comprises of Key Stages 1 and 2—which typically start at age 5 all the way to age 11. Depending on the institution, it may be split into infant and junior levels.
Starting primary school is an exciting, yet challenging time for both the student and the family. It often the first time the child spends significant time away from the family. If care is not taken, students may develop separation anxiety—especially if they change schools often.
Understanding how to manage this feeling is an important emotional and social step for the child’s development. Caregivers (teachers, parents, and other guardians) should offer a reassuring support system.
GCSE Year 10-11
Secondary education is arguably one of the most challenging stages of transition for school students. Of particular focus is year 10 and 11, which start at around age 14. It’s a time when they struggle with the confusion, nervousness, and self-consciousness that characterizes adolescence. As the last two years of secondary education, students also have to deal with academic pressure as they prepare for University admission.
Some students may feel lost, fear of losing old friends, or worry about building relationships with peers. They are especially at an increased risk of feeling excluded—leading to isolation. Schools and parents should work towards building the pupil’s self-esteem, self-confidence, and resilience.
Specifically, ensure the student is coping well academically, they’re safe online, they’re interacting with positive peer grounds, and socialising healthily.
Year 11 to College
The next academic years after year 11—including A level studies, International Baccalaureate (IB), vocational courses, foundational courses, and undergraduate study. According to Universities UK, there is “widespread reported increase in young adults struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.”
This transition is usually challenging and complex—owing to cultural change, moving away from home, and dealing with high academic or social expectations. If unchecked, a student may fall into a path of anxiety or even depression. It’s important to foster communication or raise awareness of mental health problems and how to cope.
The takeaway is that schools and parents should help students develop the necessary social and emotional skills to successfully transition through the different stages of school. This facilitates high emotional intelligence that will prepare young people for the future.
What you can do to help your young person:
If a young person “doesn’t want to transition because they like consistency and routine and structure,” says Michael Rosenthal, a clinical neuropsychologist, “then start by building in consistency and routine and structure into the transition process itself.”
Allow Your Child and Yourself to Experience the Stress
This particular step seems counter intuitive, but acknowledging the stress that both your young person and you as their parent are experiences will make it easier to move past it instead of bottling it up inside. This is an excellent opportunity for you to sit and talk with your young person about what their fears are, what is bothering them and what you can do to help them feel better.
Cut Your Young Person Some Slack
Young People in a new educational settings are already overwhelmed with a new environment, new schedules, new peers and teachers, so they do not need extra pressure to perform at home. Lessen your young person load when it comes to unnecessary, especially during the first few weeks of a new transition. Work with them and slowly introduce your young person to their normal level of activity.
Talk to Teachers About Your Concerns
Almost no one will understand how much stress you and your child are going through more than your young persons teacher, most of them have been through the transitioning stage many times with a variety of students through the years. Do not feel embarrassed or worried to discuss your concerns with your young persons teacher, and ask for feedback. You are likely to discover that your teacher has resources to help you help your young person.
Talk to Fellow Parents
Other parents will be going through the same transition with you, they will be going through the same storm in their own boat with their young person. It helps having people who understand exactly what you are going through can provide support, and can even help your young person to find solace among other students.
Keep Open Communication With Your Child
The best way to know when your child is doing well is simply by having a conversation with them. To let them know that you are there and to keep tabs on what your young person is doing, you will know if they are struggling or doing well in their transition. This requires constant communication with your young person about how they are feeling. Before you know it, you and your young person will be happily transitioned into their new environment.
It’ll take a little time for your young person to get used to a new school. Be patient and let your young person know you are there for them. Reassure them they are going to have a great school year, and before they know it, they’ll no longer feel like the new kid.
Thank you for reading.
Take Care and Stay Safe