Making a smooth transition to secondary school
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AIFS Executive Manager of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, Dr Ben Edwards said the report showed only a small proportion of children were found to have difficulties with the transition to secondary school with the most common problem being building new friendships.
The report, Transition to secondary school was based on a study involving 2,299 children aged 11-13 years who were in their first year of secondary school in Australia.
Dr Edwards said the report found 15 per cent of children and 17 per cent of parents reported experiencing some type of difficulty with children’s transition to secondary school.
“The report found that both children and parents reported the most difficult thing associated with the transition was making new friends,” he said.
“Children then reported other difficulties as missing friends from the previous school and being required to do more homework. Parents reported other difficulties as coping with a larger school and more students and dealing with more school subjects and different teachers.
“The least difficulty reported by both children and parents was managing different travel arrangements to and from the new school.
“Despite these difficulties, the overwhelming majority—84 per cent of children and parents—believed the child had transitioned well to secondary school.”
Dr Edwards said the report found emotional and behavioural issues had the most important influence on how children coped with the transition to secondary school.
“Given that friendship is a major challenge faced by many children during their transition to secondary school, children with fewer social and emotional problems are more likely to find making friends easier,” he said.
“Children whose parents rated them as having socio-emotional problems such as hyperactivity, emotional and behavioural issues and trouble relating to peers, were more likely to experience difficulties transitioning to secondary school.
“The report also found that children who had overwhelmingly positive experiences in primary school generally experienced fewer difficulties during the transition to secondary school.
“Parents also reported that children’s extracurricular activities helped provide a smooth transition to secondary school because they believed it gave the child experience in building new friendships and adapting to new environments.”
Dr Edwards said a child’s persistence was the most important temperament factor associated with making a smooth transition to secondary school.
“The ability to work towards the completion of a task and not give up easily is a key skill linked to succeeding at school,” he said.
“Children who are persistent may be more capable of taking on the additional learning tasks in secondary school and less likely to experience difficulties.”