By Atom | Jun 8, 2023, 3:43 PM
The leap from primary school to secondary school can feel daunting for even the most confident Year 6s. But there are plenty of things you can do as a parent to ease the transition and empower your child to start secondary school feeling confident and prepared.
Find tips to ease the transition emotionally and mentally here. Or, read on to learn how to develop the top academic skills your child will need in Year 7 to give them the best possible head start.
The national curriculum framework sets out the learning objectives that will be covered in Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9). This gives an indication of the knowledge areas and skills your child will hone during their first years at secondary school.
For your child to start Year 7 at the top of their game, it's important to keep learning going all year round. Here's what you can do during their final term at primary school and over the summer holidays.
During the summer term, speak with your child's teachers to understand if there are any areas in which they need further support. This time is a great opportunity to address any gaps in knowledge before they move up to secondary school.
Watch our free specialist webinar for advice on how to use the summer term to prepare for Year 7.
By consolidating their knowledge of the Key Stage 2 national curriculum in English, maths and science, your child will finish Year 6 with academic confidence.
The two particularly sticky areas that we recommend focusing on are:
Revising spelling and writing basics as these are not systematically taught in Key Stage 3
Practicing number fluency and maths learning objectives introduced in Year 6: ratio and proportion, probability, order of operations and circles
You can use your child's SATs or end of year results to identify areas that could do with a little more revision before starting Year 7. Use these English and maths checklists as a guide:
If your child uses Atom Nucleus, keep working through the main Learning Journeys. As your child progresses and unlocks new worlds, their Learning Journeys will automatically adapt to the most difficult content on the platform. This will ensure that they've mastered each subtopic of the Key Stage 2 curriculum to the highest possible level, enabling them to begin Year 7 top of the class.
Atom's Year 6 Foundation Assessments are an easy way to gauge whether your child has embedded their knowledge of the Key Stage 2 curriculum. These online adaptive tests asses every topic that a Year 6 student needs to master to be in a strong position for starting Year 7.
You can then use the transcripts to identify any areas that your child would benefit from further practice, and set them a Custom Practice activity.
The 'summer slide' is notorious among teachers. This is the phenomenon where, over the summer holidays, children tend to lose some of the academic gains they made during the year.
There are plenty of ways to combat the summer slide and help your child stay engaged with learning, so they start secondary school feeling fresh and ahead of the game. Here are our Education Experts' favourite fun ways to keep your child's mind active over summer.
The summer holidays are a great time to rekindle (or begin) a love of reading. Encourage your child to read widely to build fluency and vocabulary, as well as general knowledge and cultural awareness that will serve them well in Key Stage 3. Regular reading has also been shown to boost communication skills, which will help them connect with all the new people they'll be meeting in September.
On long journeys, your child might enjoy listening to audiobooks – another great way to build listening skills. You could take turns choosing an audiobook that you listen to as a family in the car and discuss together. Help to strengthen their comprehension skills by asking questions like:
What do you think is going to happen next?
How would you describe this character?
What happened in the chapter we just listened to?
Why do you think the author chose to end the chapter in that way?
How might this story be different if it was told from another character’s point of view?
If your child wants to be stretched and challenged, a great way to do this is to introduce them to early Key Stage 3 curriculum topics during Year 6 and the summer break before Year 7.
On Atom, there are 18 maths extension topics that can be accessed through Custom Practices. We recommend setting Custom Practices in these areas to introduce your child to the Year 7 maths curriculum:
Mean, median & range
Averages from graphs
Units of volumes and areas
Intro to algebraic notation
Brackets in algebra
The nth term
Students are often streamed into sets at secondary school, so a strong understanding of Year 6 and early Year 7 science concepts will ensure that your child begins senior school one step ahead.
Why not try out some science experiments together at home? It's a fun way to help consolidate their understanding of the Year 6 science curriculum. Encouraging scientific curiosity in everyday life will help your child build and maintain critical thinking habits, so they hit the ground running in September.
Atom's interactive science questions, videos and helpsheets are another convenient way for your child to consolidate their knowledge in biology, physics, chemistry and scientific methods.
Online learning is a handy way to keep your child engaged with their education. Most importantly, it's fun and doesn't feel like work, so your child gets a well-deserved break.
It also fits flexibly around other activities, and your child can do it from anywhere, without supervision. Why not bring the tablet on holiday with you so they can collect some gold stars while lounging by the pool?
Led by our team of in-house teachers, these fun and interactive lessons are designed to help equip your child with the key knowledge and tools they need to excel in Year 7.
'Get ahead for Year 7' sessions range from deeper analysis of comprehension texts to the mastery of theoretical maths problems. Your child will cover the teacher-identified areas where students frequently struggle when making the academic jump to secondary school. Register here, or if you're an Atom subscriber, your child can attend all Live Lessons directly from their Student Portal.
In Key Stage 3, your child will be required to write accurately, fluently and effectively for a range of purposes and audiences. Atom's creative writing Live Lessons are designed to explore a range of creative and essay writing techniques. These literary skills and techniques will be useful to your child at school and outside the classroom. You can register to attend here or directly from your child’s Student Portal.
Giving your child the best chance of being streamed into a top set at the start of Year 7 can influence the rest of their secondary school career.
At the start of Year 7, your child is likely to sit the CAT4 (Cognitive Abilities Test Fourth Edition). As well as being a gauge for academic abilities and potential, CAT4 is often used to determine which sets your child will be streamed into for different subjects. (Sets are classes based on academic ability to ensure that the teaching methods and pace are right for each child.)
The CAT4 is designed to assess a child's natural academic ability and the exam board does not advise that pupils 'revise' for it. However, there's no harm in practicing CAT4 tests in advance to help your child to become familiar with its content, style and format. One way to do this is to sit online CAT4 practice tests on Atom, standing them in good stead to perform confidently in the real thing and get into a top set.
If your child is currently in Year 6, why not join our Year 6 WhatsApp group? You'll get access to free resources to help your child continue to excel throughout Year 6, plus Education Expert advice on preparing for SATs and the transition to secondary school.