Leaving Primary in 2020 – Fun or Stressful?
By Vicki Watson BEd
The Year 6 ‘Rite of Passage’ is a key part of any Primary School child’s career. It means the end of 7 years hard work culminating in SATs, often a Residential Trip and the ‘End of Year Show’. Not to mention the Leavers’ Party! The last term where you’re with the friends you’ve maybe had from Nursery and where you can often push boundaries, safe in the knowledge the teachers know you and know how to handle you.
2020 changed all that.
At first it was a novelty – no SATs – Yay!
Extra holiday and Joe Wicks – YAY.
No seeing your friends – not so yay.
OK – let’s discover Zoom, House Party, Facetime, Tic Toc, Snapchat, more Fortnite, etc – back to Yay!
Teachers send out work to do at home but parents don’t always understand it and there feels like there’s no one around you to ask. Lessons online were fun at first but then became arduous.
“You’re living through history!” came the cry. “So what?” was the answer – we’ve got no show, no party, no hangouts.
Then the Government said Y6 could go back to school! But only in small bubbles and only part time. Not everyone was brave enough to do this. Classroom doors were left wide open, sanitizer was everywhere, you couldn’t mix with your friends in other bubbles, the work might have been there but the concentration levels weren’t.
And then the High School visits…… normally done by the transition Y7 teacher coming into school. Some schools still did this with outdoor meetings, others ‘met’ their children by Zoom, others just sent a letter saying which form to report to in September. All very stressful.
The Summer Holidays – once looked forward to – become an extension of restrictions. Holidays abroad cancelled and, in our case, return to a form of lockdown on 31st July. Chats in the garden with your mates about what you think High School will be like are delayed once more.
Secondary Schools are concerned about how much their new Year 7s will have missed. The answer is anything from a little to a lot depending on the home circumstances during lockdown. Socialising, academic catch up and behaviour issues will be the main focus of the next year – maybe two – depending on how this pandemic progresses. PSHE will be the subject that links all others together as confidence, social skills, and knowledge are reintroduced in a new academic year.
As a parent, the next few weeks have lots of potential for helping your child prepare. Anecdotes – true or false – of how you got lost on your first day/week at Secondary because the school was so big. Make sure your child’s times-tables are secure – most schools use TTRS but you can get it as a parent too. Build up their resilience to getting things wrong – we learn by mistakes. Explain that no-one gets everything right whether emotionally, academically or in decision making – not even Boris Johnson! Remind your child that the teachers went through lockdown too – so they WILL understand. A lot of Year 7 will be revision or catch up from Year 6 and everyone is in the same boat. Play to their strengths – kindness, sporting ability, organisational skills, artistic skills, new skills learnt recently and most of all, flexibility. It’s ok to cry – but it’s equally ok to laugh too!
Who wants to be 11 years old and ‘Live through History’? Not the class of 2020 that’s for sure!