Going from primary to secondary school can be a challenging time for children and parents. There are so many mixed emotions and things to consider. However, there are ways to make this transition easier. Here the experts at outdoor education provider, Kingswood, explain how a residential could help.
Transitioning from primary to secondary school is a time full of excitement and apprehension over new surroundings, new people and new found independence.
While the transition can be easier for some children, there are others who will find the change, including making new friends and learning new skills, a daunting prospect. And although the move to secondary school can’t be avoided, it can definitely be prepared for.
During the summer holidays, children can get stuck in a routine of repetitive indoor activities such as video games and watching TV. That’s why a week away from home could be the perfect way to get ready before school starts in the September. A residential trip with classmates, taking part in outdoor activities and learning through adventure would give them the tools they need for a strong start to the academic year ahead.
Learning to be independent
On a residential, children are separated from parents for up to seven nights. For a child that has possibly never spent the night away from home, this could be quite distressing. It’s all about jumping in at the deep end as they will get treated like adults in secondary school and not be spoon fed tasks like they are perhaps used to.
Residential trips also give children the opportunity to get away from the adults and make decisions for themselves. Completing tasks on their own that they usually would have help with, is a great starting point in shaping their individuality and learning to stand on their own two feet.
Secondary school will prove to be significantly harder work than primary, so it’s great to get children prepared for that jump. Kingswood can help with this by providing thought provoking challenges on their residential trip. Children must use problem solving skills to find the most direct route around their purpose-built problem solving park and there are also a number of time-dependent construction challenges which means children need to think and plan before completing a task - a skill which will prove very useful throughout school and life.
Meeting new people
Primary school can often seem like a bubble for children as there aren’t as many pupils in each year meaning ‘everyone knows everyone’. In contrast secondary school can be the complete opposite with students from lots of feeder schools in the area, so it’s highly likely for children to be separated from the friends they’ve had since they were three-years-old.
However, a residential forces children to interact with each other in ways school might not and even introduce them to children from different primary schools too. By getting involved in everything a camp has to offer, children will surprise themselves with how easy they make friends.
Steve Anderson, head of activities at Kingswood, says: “We see so many friendships blossom every day at our camps. It’s wonderful to observe that natural ability of finding a common connection with children. They often make friends without even realising it!”
By challenging children’s skills and abilities, their confidence is put to the test - which is also something that is tried in secondary school. Children will have to tackle learning new subjects, working in different classes with different teachers, speaking in front of their peers and interacting with new people. Similarly, it can also be extremely daunting to take on nerve wracking activities such as abseiling, climbing or even working together for the first time with people they’ve never met before.
But each activity is designed to build up children’s self-esteem and give them the confidence to say “Yes, I’ll give it a try.” Kingswood Psychologist,Dr Alice Jones Bartoli, said: “A residential experience is invaluable in building self-confidence and self-belief. Within the new environment of residential centres learners can find strengths they didn’t know they had and identify opportunities for reflection, boosting their confidence and engagement in their home and school life.”
Secondary school will come with a lot more pressures than what children will have been used to. It’s important to give them that time to not only prepare for this but know that it’s completely normal.
Tom Madders, campaigns director at Young Minds, the children and young people mental health charity and Kingswood charity partner, said: “Children and young people today will face a wide range of pressures at secondary school, including stress about exams, worries about body image, and the pressures associated with around-the-clock social media, especially as they enter their teen years. Spending time outdoors, learning new skills, being with friends, and having space to talk about how you’re feeling can have real benefits for mental health and prepare for secondary school life.”
Whatever the concern, there is a solution. By ensuring even just one of the above boxes is ticked, children can enjoy a much smoother transition as they head off to secondary school.
For more information about Kingswood, its activity centres and the residential camps on offer visit www.kingswood.co.uk