Parenting

While parenting can be both challenging and rewarding, find helpful resources to help you navigate parenthood.

Marriage

Whether you are preparing for or looking to strengthen your marriage, here are resources to help you along every step.

What Does it Take for a Successful Transition to Secondary School?

Photo credit: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

What Does it Take for a Successful Transition to Secondary School?

Raising happy, confident and secure kids

Published on 20 December, 2023

Photo credit: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

Mark Lim

author

Mark is Director at The Social Factor, a consultancy and counselling agency which conducts training on life skills such as parenting, mentoring, mental wellness and special needs. He and his wife Sue co-write a parenting blog, Parenting on Purpose, where they chronicle the life lessons from parenting two boys aged 13 and 11.

Every December, parents and children await in anticipation for the release of the results of their secondary school posting exercise.  

Many would hope to gain entry into their first school of choice and hold firm to the perception that a “good” Secondary School, which most equate to a brand-name school, would be the ticket to a successful life in the future. But what if success in life is not measured by the academic grades you get in school or the school you go to?  

The Business Insider reproduced a postcard that one CEO sent to another CEO, and this postcard listed out 16 major differences between successful and unsuccessful people. Essentially, successful people tend to be happy, confident and secure; they know what they want in life and know how to relate with people; and they do not necessarily have a good academic degree. 

How then can we help our kids grow to become happy, confident and secure individuals? How do we empower them to discover what they want in life? And how do they build the confidence needed to effectively relate with others? 

The solution is to build a healthy sense of self; what in psychology is described as a healthy “self-concept”. Psychologist Carl Rogers describes the “ideal self” as the person you want to be, while “self-image” refers to how you see yourself at a particular moment in time. Both these ideas are important in understanding how to build a healthy sense of self, which constitutes our self-concept. 

Counsellor Maurice Wagner, in his book The Sensation of Being Somebody, describes a functional approach in understanding self-concept, which comprises the aspects of appearance, performance and status. I will first elaborate on how each of these three areas define who we are, and how it affects our perception of who we are. Thereafter, I will also share some practical skills our children need for a successful secondary school experience. 

Appearance – How do I look?

This refers to how we believe we are perceived by others. How we appear to others affects their view of us, which either reinforces or erodes our self-concept. 

Some of my clients have issues with communication. One of them, then 19 years old, had major problems whenever he was involved in project work. His group mates often told him that they couldn’t understand why he was always insisting on doing things his own way. As a result, they often left him out of meetings and he developed a poor image of himself. 

Performance – How am I doing?

This relates to our abilities, skills, knowledge and sense of responsibility. The quality of our performance is always on our minds, even if we are unaware of it.   I often teach my clients about negative automatic thoughts, and how many people are caught in the performance trap. They have the mindset that if they do not get an “A” grade for their studies, they are a failure in life. This translates to a low sense of self.  

Practical Skills for A Successful Transition

As we examine the aspects that make up self-concept, it is evident that grades alone are not an effective measure of success. We need to build our children’s self-concept by helping them gain a more accurate understanding of who they are, and what they’re good at.   We also need to equip them with practical skills for the new chapter ahead. 

Encourage your child to be patient with themselves and to share their struggles with you. 

Here are 5 practical skills that will help them build a healthy sense of self and adjust well to a new school environment: 

  • Patience and perseverance 

Adjusting to a new school environment – with unfamiliar faces, increased academic load, and a different teaching style, can be challenging for many students. Encourage your child to be patient with themselves and to share their struggles with you. 

  • Good time management skills 

Secondary school often requires kids to juggle multiple commitments, such as homework, co-curricular activities, and social life. Help your child prioritise important tasks and to be track of their progress, so that they can avoid feeling overwhelmed. 

  • Organisation skills 

Secondary school classes may move at a faster pace than primary school classes. Students will need to be able to stay organised by taking good notes, keeping track of assignments, and using their time effectively.  

  • Effective study habits 

Studying for longer periods of time doesn’t necessarily mean studying more effectively. Students will need to develop good study habits, such as minimising distractions, creating a dedicated study space, and breaking down large projects into smaller tasks. 

  • A growth mindset  

Instil in your child the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed through effort and learning. Students with a growth mindset are more likely to embrace challenges, see mistakes as opportunities to learn, and persist in the face of setbacks. 

Even the wrong turns and side roads have meaning and purpose, if only to teach us which way the path to oneself does not lie.  

– Trauma Specialist, Gabor Mate 

While the leap from primary to secondary school can feel like scaling a mountain, remember, you and your child are not alone. With your support and continued sowing into your child’s sense of self, your child will embrace the journey with a growth mindset, and learn to tackle challenges head-on 

 © 2023 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved. 


Mark Lim

author

Mark is Director at The Social Factor, a consultancy and counselling agency which conducts training on life skills such as parenting, mentoring, mental wellness and special needs. He and his wife Sue co-write a parenting blog, Parenting on Purpose, where they chronicle the life lessons from parenting two boys aged 13 and 11.

Personalise your experience here at Focus on the Family Singapore

Does articles on “Parenting” interest you? Add them to your favourite topics to get articles recommended for you.