The saying ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ could have been written for a parent with a child about to enter year 6, their last year at primary school.  The memories of their first day at school are still fresh, the thought of senior school and all that comes with it is a blur, but suddenly, here you are.

So what do you need to do to prepare yourself, and your child, for their last year at primary school?

Independence

Sadly, in the current climate, children now have less independence than they’ve ever had.  But with the move up to secondary school, now’s the time to start installing confidence in your child that they can be independent, while setting clear limits, guidelines and good common sense to keep them safe.

If you’re lucky enough to live near your primary school, your child may be eligible for a walking home pass, meaning simply, they can walk home on their own.  Most children need to show this at the gate before they’re allowed to leave.

Some children will be more than happy to walk home alone or with friends.  For others, this may feel like a huge step and one which you have to ease them into gently.  Start by letting them leave you to walk to school from within your sight, so you can watch them and they can see you right up to going through the gates.  Or, find a group of friends they can walk with, even if it means you taking them there first. Judge your child’s confidence and see what makes them feel happy.

Technology

One great way to keep your family safe is to use a tracker app, which will allow you to see where your child’s phone is.  Also useful when they leave their phone on the bus or in their PE kit bag at school!

If this is your child’s first time being on their own, it can also give them a little boost to know that you can ‘see’ them and know they’ve got to school safely, or managed to walk to the shop by themselves.

Transport

If your child has attended the local village or town school, chances are they’ve been able to walk, or you’ve driven them.  Often though, with secondary schools, a bus may be involved.

With fewer schools offering a dedicated school bus, many children have to reply on public transport.  Year six is a good time to start familiarising your child with their route to school.  It’s also a good time for them to learn to read a bus timetable, see which buses go where and what to do if the bus doesn’t turn up.  By starting this in year six, your child will feel like a pro on their first day of secondary school, rather than having to face an unfamiliar journey AND a new school all at once.

Food

In primary school, children will either have a packed lunch or cooked dinner with dinner ladies there to help and watch over the children.

However, when your child hits secondary school it’s all on them.  No watching over, no interest in what they’re eating and a worrying amount of unhealthy choices to make.

Year six is a great time to start educating your child about healthy choices.  Help them to understand that everything in moderation is OK and to know how what you eat affects your body.  Giving them this knowledge now will equip them with the skills to make better choices when they start secondary school next year.