Starting Secondary School
The move to secondary school means a number of major changes for all children.
Most children will cope with these and feel accustomed to the changes by the end of the first couple of weeks. In contrast the child with living and learning difficulties may take 2-3 terms to learn to navigate his way around the school and may require ongoing support throughout his school days to allow him to fully access the curriculum.
If there has been little preparation for the huge changes that occur between primary and secondary school, this leaves the child floundering and results in difficulties for the child to access the curriculum and makes it much harder for him to make friends. The first few weeks are crucial in developing the new peer group and poor preparation can result in lasting damage throughout the secondary school days.
Initial enthusiasm to support the child may disappear when there is an underlying feeling that the child should be able to go it alone. “How many times should he be shown, can’t he understand it by now, I am not going to mother him any longer” – phrases that have been uttered from time to time. However an analogy could be to consider how one would support a person with visual impairment with a white stick – we would not consider taking the stick away from him after a few weeks because he should have mastered his way around and shouldn’t need it any longer! However a child with less obvious difficulties does not have a ‘marker’ highlighting his difficulties, so is often seen as lazy, stupid or not really trying as hard as he could.