Young people go through many first time’ experiences from which they develop the skills to cope with the changes and challenges of life. Usually they cope well with these experiences but sometimes when translators are major, they can be affected emotionally, physically, psychologically or intellectually and will require support during this time. While some transitions can be expected and planned for, such as changing schools, others are unexpected and unplanned such as a bereavement.
In order to support a young person through such a major emotional transition, it is important to allow them to express their feelings and emotions and helped to give words to the emotions they are experiencing. It Is equally Important that the child Is listened to and respected, recognizing the uniqueness of their own experience. In my own school setting, staff aim to create an atmosphere in which feelings are spoken about and taken seriously. Each class has a form teacher who takes registration periods twice a day allowing a trusting relationship to be built between teacher and pupils.
Some of this time is allocated to open up discussions about stress and pressures faced and strategies to manage them. By allowing staff to get to know pupils well, they are In a better position to recognize any changes in behavior or progress which may Indicate that they require further support. A school counselor is also available and children are encouraged to avail of this service. A friendly, open disposition is supportive in itself as young people will feel they have someone to turn to.
It is important to recognize when to refer a child to other sources of support. Physical transitions such as moving house or school are also major transitions in a young person’s life which may Involve the loss of old friendships and the need to lulled new ones. While all children face the translator to secondary level education, others may have to face such a move between schools at other points. Increasingly, there are children for whom the transition may also involve moving country, adjusting to a new culture and learning a new language.
Where possible children should be prepared for transition between schools by providing some overlap between schools and opportunities to familiarize pupils with the new setting. In the secondary school in which I work, strong links have been built with the feeder primary schools. Children In P. 7 will be Invited to the school on a number of occasions to participate in learning activities such as science days, allowing them to see the school, meet teachers and try new subjects.
The transition is further assisted by the fact that year 8 pupils are taught in a separate school building with increasing activities taking place in the main school building towards the end of year 8. This allows the pupils to have dealt with the loss of primary and established new friendships before they are also Immersed In the school life of older teenagers. Physiological transitions affect all pupils as they grow older and begin puberty while some may also be affected by physiological transitions such as long term illness. Puberty is a transition which can be anticipated and prepared for.
It is important therefore to talk to young people and ensure that they understand that physiological changes are going to take place, are perfectly normal and that young people will go through this transitions at deferent rates. By preparing young people for this people can be supported at this stage by focusing on the positive changes this life tags brings about with increased opportunities at school and socially. In my own school setting the curriculum has been developed to include the emotional and physiological changes the pupils are going through as teenagers.
Personal development lessons look at life skills such as the ability to ask for help and support when necessary. Support is also provided by the onsite school nurse, for example teenage girls can go to the nurse if they require sanitary protection or perpetrator. Intellectual transitions take place throughout a child’s school life as there is continual progression onto new learning. Each year begins with the uncertainty of new teachers, new rooms, and new topics. Most of these changes are managed well by pupils and the experience and skills learned, equip them to deal with further challenges.
In my school setting, children are encouraged to be self-aware and to reflect upon their own learning. At the end of each topic they complete a self- evaluation to identify what they have learned well, what they need to improve and how they might bring about improvement. This encourages them to take responsibility and to recognize that they themselves can bring about change in their learning outcomes. Successes are celebrated within the school to build up the pupils’ sense of belonging self-esteem and confidence in their ability to succeed.
Improved self -confidence and self-esteem increases a young person’s ability to come through transitions. Support and encouragement can be given in simple ways such as a smile or greeting a child by name. The pastoral ethos of my own school setting aims to ensure that pupils feel secure and valued and know how and where to seek support. Pupils may then have an increased capacity to cope with transitions and a belief in their own ability and resilience when faced with change.