Our second son enters year 7 this year. In Victoria, this is the first year of secondary / high school. When my first son went into year 7, I found the year a massive learning curve for me as a parent. At the end of the year I wrote this post sharing my learnings – 10 Things I Have Learnt About Year 7 And Year 7 Boys This Year.
For our family lots of things change when the kids go to secondary school and I like to approach it as a chance to give them greater independence and responsibility. These are seven strategies that have worked for us:
1. Let them be responsible for getting out of the house on time
This means they are responsible for setting the alarm the night before, waking up to the alarm, getting themselves ready and out of the house on time.
Naturally if they are significantly over sleeping I would wake them up, however the onus is really on them to get themselves up on time and know what time they need to leave the house to make it to school on time.
2. Let them make their own lunch
By this age, they are more than capable of making their own lunch and recess snack. I have the fridge and pantry organised so it is easy for them to put together their lunch, but again it is their responsibility to make it and pack it.
We talk about how many items they need, what types of items they need in their lunch box and I let them know they can request favourite fruits etc and I will where possible make sure we have them on hand.
3. Let them get themselves to school
To get to their secondary school, it requires walking to the train station, then catching two trains to arrive at school. The independence and social skills they acquire from this are tremendous. The journey to school is also quite a social event so they actually enjoy the trip too.
4. Help them set up a homework schedule
For our son the transition from the primary to secondary homework load was significant. Helping him workout a homework schedule that factored in his after school commitments was important to ensure he would meet his due dates.
5. Set ground rules for technology / internet usage
Technology / internet usage from my observations is very dependant on the personality of the child. A couple in our family adore it and need help regulating their time on it. Others are not so drawn to it. Either way though I have found it incredibly helpful to document what technology / internet usage is allowed on school nights and on the weekend.
Documenting it is important as they can be masters of “grey”, so it is important that technology / internet usage is agreed upon and written in black and white. For year 7 our technology / internet usage rules are no social or game time until homework is completed, then a maximum of 45 minutes per day Mon – Thu. Weekends are similar, some homework must be completed first before social or game time, with a total of 1.5 hours each day.
6. Be prepared to ask questions
After school they are not necessarily going to burst through the door and tell you all about their day. But finding time in the evening to talk is important to understand what is happening in their days and that they are doing okay. The kids and I eat together Mon-Fri and we use this time to share news about our day. It is casual, light hearted and a great way for us to communicate together.
In year 7 our kids are allowed to stay up later, so when they come and say good night to me in the evening, I take the opportunity to have a little chat. It is only a couple of minutes, but it provides an opportunity for me to show I am interested in what is happening with them and follow up any issues without everyone else around.
7. Be prepared to be tested
With new found independence of getting themselves ready and traveling on public transport also comes a willingness to test the boundaries. Testing the limits was a regular occurrence, so knowing exactly what our boundaries were was important. As parents we then needed to work out, which were the key ones that were not negotiable and which ones had more flexibility.
It is an exciting time when kids enter secondary school and for me it is a time where I need to look at how much I am doing for them, what are they capable of doing for themselves and finding a fit that works for our family.
Do you have a child in year 7 this year?