Now that we have two of our children in high school, I thought I would post my 5 differences between primary school and high school.
It had been 24 years since my last experience of secondary education when Colby started high school in 2014, so memories of it were a bit sketchy. However I was bought promptly back to reality with a bump. After 7 years of nursery and primary school it was a whole new experience, and not just for Colby! I had totally forgotten how different the two are for parents.
1/ At High school THEY DON’T CARE WHAT YOUR CHILD EATS! Yep that’s right. After 5 years of the lunchbox police, your child can go from eating nothing but carrot sticks and hummus, to nothing but a giant bar of Dairy Milk. No one will bat an eyelid. OK maybe that is a bit of an extreme example, but in truth, no one will ever again tell you that giving your child a penguin biscuit is wrong and sinful, and they can have jam on their sandwich without you worrying about getting one of “those notes” brought back home in their lunchbox. I honestly don’t know how they can go from one extreme to the other. This one had me totally baffled.
2/ Prepare for a constant need for money. At Primary they only needed £1 a week for snack money. This £1 got them a snack every mid morning. Their name would be checked off on a register so the teacher knew who paid. Now my kids want bus fare (ok not their fault I suppose), money for toast or a bacon sandwich at break, a bottle of drink from the canteen, there’s an ice-cream van outside school at home time that probably sells everything but ice-cream. I have drawn the line at this one. And of course with high school comes a bit more independence. So on weekends now, money is needed for various excursions into town, swimming, cinema, basically everything that you used to do with your child, they now do with their friends.
3/ At Primary they would get two maybe three weeks notice for any school trips, meaning you have time to plan ahead financially. At High school you will have zero notice of any school trips. This means you will get a crumpled letter about 9pm wanting payment by the next day. Now for a while I actually thought it was my kids forgetting to give me the letters. But no they actually got one letter last month wanting £20 by the next day. I find this really inconsiderate not everyone has access to instant funds. The standard answer is always that the trips are not compulsory. Even though included in the letter about said trips it always says that it will help with what they are learning about in the classroom.
4/ At Primary you end up knowing most of the children in your child’s class, and a lot of their parents. You can speak to the teacher and their assistants on a daily basis, and you just feel that you know the people in your child’s life. You can guess where I’m going with this. Your child will speak of the same people over and over for the next 7 years and chances are, you will never ever meet them. I’ve taken to getting them to show pictures of their friends on Instagram or Snapchat, just so I can put a face to the name.
5/ The teachers will surprise you. At Primary on review day when you go to speak to the teachers about your child, they are generally reading from prepared quotes. You hear a lot of “a pleasure to teach” or “I wish I had a class full of little xxxx” but in High school anything goes. If they can’t remember your child they just look at the register and pick a name hoping for the best. But if they do know and like your child, they are able to tell you about all the things they genuinely like. You walk away not only proud but in wonder, at how and when your child started to make such grown up impressions on another adult.
I felt genuinely over whelmed and totally unprepared when Colby started High school. I’d forgotten how much responsibility they are given, and how much more independent they need to be. I like to embrace every parenting stage, but this one had me stopped in my tracks for a while. Courtney started in September and this time I knew how it would be for me and her!
See you soon