WITH the start of the summer holidays and seemingly endless possibilities for weeks of fun, you’d be forgiven for thinking that our children have a lot to celebrate.

For many children that is true, but we know from contacts to Childline that for some youngsters the summer holidays mark the end of their primary school adventure and they face the daunting prospect of starting secondary school just weeks away.

Our dedicated volunteers at Childline from April 1 2020 to March 31 2021 delivered 472 counselling sessions to children and young people who were worried about starting a new school. Children have told us that starting secondary school can be a scary time and every year lots of them say they’re worried about the change in environment, their friends not going to the same school and if they will be bullied.

These worries have been compounded by Covid, and the cancellation of transition days for Year 6 pupils means the normal apprehension surrounding starting a new school may feel more overwhelming. So I wanted to offer some advice, not in September for when the big day arrives but now at the start of the holidays so we as parents and carers can help our children prepare and feel better about the prospect of this new chapter in their lives. We can help children understand that whilst change can feel difficult, overcoming it gets easier the more often they do it and how eventually they may start to look forward to new challenges.

The idea of having new teachers, subjects and meeting new people can be scary but also exciting. It is important to talk to your child, listen to their concerns and understand that they could be scared, excited and also sad. Going from primary to secondary school is a big change.  They may be catching public transport by themselves for the first time. Whilst it’s comforting to have a familiar friend from primary school to share this new experience that’s not always possible. It’s important to focus on the positives, remind them of when they started primary school or other times where they might have been in an unfamiliar place with new people.

From the moderated message boards on the Childline website we see a lot of positivity being shared by young people supporting each other at this potentially scary time and sharing their own experiences of starting big school. It’s an opportunity to make new friends and our Childline website has lots of advice on how to do that.

There are lots of ways to help children keep in touch with their closest friends.

And remember, if your child is struggling with the idea of starting a new school and for whatever reason, they feel they can’t talk to you or another trusted adult then Childline is here, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or via 1-2-1 chat on childline.org.uk