Secondary school

Last updated: 18 January 2019

Transition from primary to secondary school

Moving from primary to secondary school can be challenging. Students aren’t just adapting to a new school environment, they’re also entering a new phase of life. Learn about common challenges and how to help your child make the best of the transition.

Help your child to understand the common challenges

Some of the challenges faced by students entering secondary school include:

New school environment

Your child has spent the last 6 years getting used to their primary school, and now they’ll be going somewhere new. They’ll also be the youngest students there.

New friends

Many of your child’s friends may be going to different secondary schools. This can be difficult, but it’s also an opportunity to form new, long-lasting friendships.

New syllabus

Secondary school subjects are more challenging, and there are also new subjects, including biology, chemistry, physics, geography and history. Your child will also have more choice in choosing subjects, especially in upper secondary.

New life phase

Your child is about to enter their teenage years, when they and their classmates will go through complex physical, emotional and mental changes. During secondary school, your child will begin to figure out who they are as a person.

Support your child’s development and interests

It’s important that you pick a school where your child’s development and interests will be supported. Generally, secondary school students do best when:
  • They feel a sense of belonging, with their friends and at the school.
  • They feel a sense of purpose and progress.
  • They get the opportunity to contribute to the school, for example through their Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs).
  • They get the opportunity to find their interests and learn new things.
  • Their teachers care about them and cater to their needs.
  • Learning is interesting, enjoyable and appropriate to their ability.
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Encourage your child to prepare the transition

When discussing these challenges with your child, encourage them to:

  • Choose subjects and electives they are interested in.
  • Look beyond academics and pursue activities that excite them.
  • Make new friends and involve themselves in sports, games, clubs and other CCAs.
  • They get the opportunity to find their interests and learn new things.
  • Let you know if they are having difficulties at school.

Settling into secondary school takes more than a few weeks. It’s a process that can take months or even years. How your child feels will change as they grow older. It’s important to give them the time and space to find their own answers.