Back To School Tips

By Siti Mariam, Associate Lecturer, DAS Academy

Transitioning from Primary to Secondary: From Tween to Teen

It’s over! The school holidays are finally over! It’s an emotionally-charged moment for everyone: Parents, guilt-ridden for actually feeling relieved; children, nervous yet excited; and teachers, all geared up for another eventful year. However, no matter which category one falls into, it’s without a doubt that starting a new school year represents a significant milestone and an especially momentous one for those moving on to secondary schools. From a rather carefree life in the primary school years to the increased responsibilities and pressures of secondary school life, it can be a challenging adjustment period for tweens. However, there are ways to ease the transition.

Tip 1: Be Aware of the Changes in Academic Demands

Moving on to a new school environment brings about a set of challenges; academic and non-academic. Preparing oneself for the changes in the academic requirements can reduce the stress of having to adapt to a new environment.

One of these changes includes the writing that students are expected to do. In primary schools, narrative writing is practised whereas in secondary schools, the focus shifts to expository writing, as well as summary writing. However, before students can write expository texts, they need to be able to understand what these texts are, their structures and, of course, know how to write them.

At the DAS Academy, we help both parents and educators alike equip themselves with the necessary skills to teach their children and students how to do so. In our ‘Developing Writing Skills’ workshop, not only do we cover narrative writing for primary school-goers, but we also look at strategies on how to help students tackle expository writing.

Besides that, we also recognise the difficulties students have with writing, and these include a lack of interest and motivation as well as ideas and content. The ‘Developing Writing Skills’ workshop will also explore the different ways parents/educators can help students expand on their ideas and content as well as make writing more fun and interesting.

Tip 2: Teach Wise Decision-Making

Being older does not always mean being wiser. There comes a time when tweens need to be responsible for their own actions and for the decisions they make.

Therefore, they need to be equipped with the ability to make smart and wise decisions to navigate difficult situations from an early age. These include planning their time wisely, prioritizing the different tasks assigned to them and being disciplined enough to resist temptations and block out distractions in order to complete a particular goal. Students with learning difficulties tend to struggle with the above due to executive function issues. The executive function is responsible for a whole set of mental skills, from planning right to ensuring a task gets finished on time. These skills, however, can be taught and improved when certain strategies and routines are in place.

Through the ‘Study Smart’ workshop at the DAS Academy, parents and educators will gain an understanding of the issues students with learning difficulties face with executive functioning and pick up strategies to help them make wise decisions, in order to manage themselves well in a new school environment.