Mental health and transition

I went to 6 schools before I was 18.

I have worn brown with blue trimming, grey and greyer, navy with red and no uniform at all.  

I have been a poor learner, a successful student and a dismal middle-of-the road student.

Teachers wrote ‘conscientious’ on my school report. There wasn’t much else to say!

Trying to navigate 6 schools as a pupil experience was like trying to remember the plot of 6 soap operas in which my success depended on my ability to remember the main characters, to navigate the plot and to anticipate the next episode.

In Primary schools we do a lot around transition to Secondary or High school. We do quite a lot about transition on entry to the Primary phase or Junior or Middle school. But do we focus on the main agenda from a child’s point of view?

I was seeking belonging. I failed in this goal, so I settled for blending with the wallpaper – and anonymity. So many children do this and limit their learning opportunities.

Belonging for a young child means fitting in with the family. Family is the only organisational model they know. They need this before understanding how school is different and that they have a role in an organisation.  What do we do to help them be part of a family on entry to school? 

  • Can we make classrooms more family recognisable?
  • Can we make our playtimes more familiar?
  • Can we make lunchtimes more family sized?

For the vulnerable child, making things more family-minded helps daily as well as year-on transitions. It also provides the sense of family that so many of these children are seeking. 

I once met a Headteacher who wore her slippers around the school and sometimes an apron. Perhaps not your style! Her message though was that children were invited to her ‘home’, they were to respect other family members and her belongings. She was always there to welcome them, to say goodbye and to thank them for coming. 

What can your school do to communicate ‘home’?