primary education to secondary

Primary Education to Secondary: Parental Support

Starting secondary school marks an important transition in a child’s life. As your child leaves behind the familiarity of primary school and prepares to enter a new, likely much larger, secondary school environment, what can you as a parent do to help ease this transition? From practical support, like ensuring they have the right equipment, to providing emotional support as they navigate new social situations, parents play a key role in helping set their children up for success. Read on for tips on supporting your child during this transitional life stage.

What is Primary Education?

Before exploring how to support the transition to secondary school, it helps to understand what primary education encompasses. Primary education comprises the first years of formal schooling, typically including children aged 5-11. Students build literacy and numeracy skills during these fundamental school years while studying various other core subjects. Teachers aim to foster social development alongside academic learning. The primary years equip students with essential knowledge and skills to prepare them for secondary education.

Importance of Primary Education

Why is primary education so vital for children? The primary school years coincide with key childhood cognitive, emotional, and social development phases. At this stage, children’s brains rapidly soak up new information, neural connections form, and children cement foundational academic competencies and confidence in their abilities. Positive school experiences help shape a lifelong love of learning. The primary school represents most children’s first step into a larger world as they form new friendships and gradually become more independent from their parents. Overall, primary education establishes the baseline for all future learning.

What is Secondary Education?

Secondary education builds upon the fundamentals instilled during a student’s primary school years. Comprised of two phases, lower and upper secondary education typically includes children aged 11-18. Students enter lower secondary school, sometimes called middle school, after finishing primary education. This phase continues to provide core subject instruction while gradually introducing more varied elective subjects. Upon finishing middle school, students transition into upper secondary school, which allows for greater specialisation through elective course choices. Qualifications earned in upper secondary prepare graduates for tertiary education, vocational training or entry into the workforce.

Practical Steps Parents Can Take

As your child moves from primary to secondary school, several practical steps can assist the transition:

  • Tour the secondary school early so your child knows the layout. Walk around the buildings and locate classrooms, cafeterias, library, lockers, sports facilities, etc.
  • Meet teachers, especially your child’s class teacher, who will be key for transitional support.
  • Take your child shopping for school supplies early. Ensure they have the necessary stationery, laptops/tablets, and calculators specified on school lists. 
  • Discuss transport like buses. Sort details like permissions pass and payments so commuting to/from secondary school is organised by the first week. 
  • Ensure that uniform items and casual clothes worn on non-uniform days are well-fitted and comply with school dress codes.
  • Designate spaces/times at home for homework and studying. With increased workloads and more challenging assignments, self-discipline is critical. 
  • Use phone calendars, planners and reminders for tests, deadlines and events. Check-in daily/weekly and help your child stay organised as responsibilities increase.

Emotional Support & Open Communication

While practical assistance helps with a smooth transition, parents also provide critical emotional support as children enter the unfamiliar secondary school environment. Tips include:

  • Talk openly about concerns and feelings. Provide reassurance that nerves are normal. Share your own secondary school experiences.
  • Emphasise effort over grades early on, praising hard work as your child navigates more rigorous academics. Shift focus as they acclimate.
  • Ask engaging questions about new subjects, activities and friends. Listen without judgment to foster open communication during social changes.
  • Remain patient and available. Children require less direct help with tasks but still need support managing time and emotions. Check in frequently.
  • Empower independence appropriate to your child’s maturity, but stay involved enough to notice problems early. Seek help from the school if concerns arise.
  • Get to know friends and parents. Peer influence increases during secondary school years, so staying connected provides context.
  • Watch for signs of stress like moodiness, lack of motivation or changes in sleep. Discuss constructive strategies for managing school-life balance.
  • Advocate for your child if issues occur, but also encourage self-advocacy. Guide them to approach teachers respectfully.

Additional Considerations

While navigating routine adjustments like new teachers or class structures, several key changes also impact students as they transition into secondary school. Understanding these shifts allows parents to offer better support.

Social dynamics grow more complex with students interacting with more peers across different ages and life stages, presenting new social pressures. Friendships and relationships evolve. Schools address conduct and behaviour expectations early on, including important topics like bullying awareness, healthy relationships, and online safety.

Physical and cognitive development also accelerates during early secondary school years, affecting self-confidence, motivation, and academic outlooks. The course material also increases in difficulty. Understanding these changes helps parents provide realistic guidance.

Most secondary schools utilise specialised teachers for each subject, so students adapt to varying teaching styles compared to a single primary classroom teacher. Secondary schools also introduce centralised exams and standardised assessments, which are new for most students. With more impersonal environments, students take greater individual ownership over learning.

Arab Unity School Secondary Education Programs

As one of the best British primary schools in Dubai, Arab Unity School (AUS) provides exceptional choice for quality secondary education.

AUS follows an enhanced English National Curriculum, preparing students for IGCSEs and beyond. Our secondary framework nurtures creativity, builds leadership skills and sparks curiosity through dynamic teaching. The expert faculty and class sizes ensure personalised attention to unlock every child’s strengths.

Students can benefit from the vibrant, modern campus with innovative learning spaces like science and IT labs and sports areas. They can explore their full potential through extracurricular activities and interactive resources. Our specialised counsellors also provide academic and well-being support. AUS prioritises mental health through initiatives like peer mentoring and counselling! 

If you feel Arab Unity School’s balanced approach to academic rigour, character growth, and future-focussed skill building aligns with your goals for your child’s secondary education, schedule a personalised campus tour to see the state-of-the-art facilities and unique learning environment first-hand!


Transitioning to secondary school represents a critical turning point filled with new experiences for both children and parents. Yet by providing practical assistance combined with consistent emotional support, parents help ensure children feel prepared and empowered when starting on this next educational journey. From touring facilities ahead of time to listening openly as your child navigates new situations, each act of guidance reassures children experiencing change. Remaining involved and communicating concerns promptly also smooths bumps for this transitional life stage. At Arab Unity School, we encourage collaborative transitions, so contact our administrators or counsellors for more assistance in easing critical primary to secondary shifts. Parents and schools establish solid foundations by working together, enabling every student to thrive.