So your precious baby is about to start Year 7, and secondary school?
I say get ready because you have NO idea how much things are going to change over the next 12 months.
Your little kid is going to transform into a borderline teenager right in front of your eyes. Or rather, just out of sight – because you’re going to be seeing a LOT less of your child once they start Year 7.
There are lots of tips about getting your child ready for secondary school. I remember lots of helpful articles about practicing taking the bus, and mobile phone etiquette and so on.
But today I’m dropping some truth bombs. Oh YEAH.
Like, saying the word “truth bomb” and making a drop the mic gesture? Is the single best way to get the living room (and thus, the remote control) to yourself when you have an 11-year-old. You’re welcome.
OK. So here are seven things I think you need to be ready for if your child is starting senior school this September:
They will lose 40% of the uniform
So, you’ve probably just spent the best part of £500 on a new school uniform, and your child looks SO perfect. Take a photo. Treasure it. In a month’s time, half that uniform will be gone.
First to go was Flea’s sports hoodie, left behind after a hockey match. Then another kid “borrowed” her kit from the sports hall changing room. Shirts got lost during PE lessons, drama shoes, the list goes on (and on).
My first tip therefore is buy cheap, and consider anything your child takes off during the school day to be 50% disposable. My second tip is to get a lock for their PE bag. Oh, and invest in a Tile tag that’s linked to your phone, so you can at least see where the bag is, in case it goes astray.
The bag you bought is ALL WRONG
When Flea started Year 7, we spent lots of time choosing a sturdy back pack with broad straps, and lots of little pockets for her phone, and stationery.
It quickly became apparent, though, that those are “little kid” bags and the goal for today’s tweenager is a tiny, expensive handbag, ideally with a designer logo attached. Most of the girls carry bags that are about big enough for one maths book and an iPhone. The upside is that they won’t get spinal damage, I guess.
There are Mean Girls
Social media in senior school is brutal, and I hate to break it to you, but even the “nice” kids are powerless against peer pressure. If they’re not involved, they’re at least seeing it.
Whether it’s comparing likes, falling out and blocking each other, or sending catty messages, it happens.
The latest thing in Flea’s social circle is sending a Snapchat with two names, and the kids have to say which person they prefer, or who’s prettier, or funnier. Ugh. It’s gross. Make sure your kids are prepared for this nonsense, and try to be involved and observant.
Walking Home is the Best Thing Ever
Flea’s school is about 2 miles from our house, but when she first started, I drove her while she “settled in”.
Then she became the hockey team goalkeeper and I needed to drive her because sports kit + goalie kit + school bag is basically more luggage than I take for a week’s holiday.
But in summer term there was no hockey and suddenly Flea was DESPERATE to walk home. I’d get text messages like, “please please please can I… everyone else is…. I know the way.”
And I’d be like…. “YES!!!!”
(Until It’s Not)
About a quarter of a mile away from school, Flea realised that walking home from school involves – ya know – walking.
After that it’s a non-stop stream of excuses why I need to go and pick her up from school. It’s raining. I’ve got a heavy bag. Nobody else is walking. It’s too hot.
You will HATE at least one of their friends
This one’s complicated.
When Flea started Year 7, I decided that I wouldn’t worry about grades in Year 7. All I wanted was for her to settle in to this new environment, get involved, have fun – and make friends.
Then she made friends. And I didn’t like them all. Most of them are beyond lovely. They’re great kids. But there are kids I just don’t really… like.
I know, right? SHOCKER.
I loved Flea’s friends in primary school. She had an amazing group of girl friends who were smart, and fun, and kind.
In secondary school, be prepared for your child to make friends with kids who swear, or who are boy-crazy, or have more freedom than you give your child. Pre-teens with attitude, and issues.
If this happens to you, be prepared to not say a word about it. Just keep in mind they’ll continue to make new friends, and try them on a bit like clothes.
Everyone’s a Cheater
In senior school, most of the kids have phones and they’ll set up “group chats” where they exchange daft messages.
But the most shocking thing to me was how quickly they fall into cheating on homework.
Pretty much once a day, some kid will post, “Someone send me a photo of the maths homework”. And whoever has done the work shares with the group.
I’d be appalled, but mostly I just think it’s funny that it doesn’t occur to any of them to wonder whether that kid has the answers right.
It’ll Be Alright
Year 7 is a big change, but it’s equal parts scary and lovely to see your child growing into this new stage in their lives.
This past year, Flea has blossomed. She’s tried new sports, new clubs, new subjects and new friends. She’s happy. And – if I can just work out a way to staple her uniform to her body – so am I.
Bring on Year 8.