Top 3 Tips for Starting Secondary School

Author: Caroline Day

There are few scarier scenarios for most people than being put in a room with lots of new people and being told to ‘NETWORK’!

For adults, insecure thoughts and feelings from secondary school often come flooding straight back up to the surface:

  • No-one will want to talk to me;
  • What do I say to people;
  • How do I approach them;
  • What if they don’t want to be friendly;
  • Please can the earth just swallow me up!

Imagine then, being just 11 or 12 and facing your first day in a new school. It is exactly the same for them and, as a result, many children suffer anxiety attacks just from the thought of the first day.

Whilst schools are more sensitive to this nowadays, there are ways that parents and carers can prepare their children for that big moment when they meet loads of brand new people.

As well as supporting them here and now, this is a great skill that will serve them well for life. Learn how to do it now and they will never need to be nervous again about going into a room with people they don’t know.


Find out as much as you possibly can before the first day.

  • What will happen on that first day?
  • Will they all gather as a school?
  • Will they stand in their forms?
  • Does the school plan an introducing activity for the newcomers?
  • What is your child actually going to do on that morning?

You might have already received this from the school or you may need to contact them for more information. Either way, try and find out as much as you can.


Getting a conversation started

With adult networkers, I always recommend that they go up to someone and say “Hi. Who are you and what do you do?”

Most people like talking about themselves and will answer that question easily. The nice thing is that they usually then say “How about you?” and it’s got the conversation started. Your child can use this same approach when they meet their new classmates.

Why don’t you and your child prepare some questions?

For example:

Q1: They could go up to someone, say their own name and ask the other person for theirs:

  • Hi.  My name’s John, what’s yours?
  • Hi.  I’m Jane.  Pleased to meet you.

Q2: They could have another question ready to get the person talking:

  • Do you know anyone in this school or are you completely new?
  • Yes, my brother is two years older than me but I don’t know anyone in this year.

Do you get the drift? Do this with your child and you’ll get all the words right, what they call the class/year/form etc and what your child feels happy to ask someone.


Striking up a conversation with strangers is a skill that needs practice.

Here are 3 suggestions to help:

  1. Get your child to ask you the questions at least once a day so that they get used to using them.  You could answer as yourself or you could make yourself into someone else.  You can have some fun.
  2. You could ask your child the questions so they see how easy they are to answer.
  3. They could have their friends round for a ‘meeting new people’ party and practice on each other.

With all of these methods repetition is key as it means that the questions trip off the tongue really easily, no matter what games their nerves are playing on the day


In any group of people meeting for the first time, it’s likely that some will be really confident to go up and say hello to anyone, some will be terrified and some, while being neither of these, will still feel anxious about it. Who knows, the children who seem the most confident could just be the ones who have invested a little time to prepare themselves for the situation.

For those who are really struggling, it could be a huge help if a friendly person approached them and asked them their name.

Maybe encourage your child could look for anyone on their own and go up to them first.
For more information on ways to help your child develop life changing skills for life, get in touch and ask me for my FREE guide.

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