Transition's Impact on a Child’s Mental Health
In this essay I will be discussing and outlining the issues of how the transition can have an impact on a child’s mental health, emotions and their overall academic performance. I will also be discussing how development and puberty can affect a child, as well as the challenges they can possibly face whilst transitioning schools. I will be discussing the issues of bullying, the change of curriculum and being lost in an unfamiliar environment. The topic of transition and the opportunities in secondary school will be covered and there will be a variety of explanations of how parents and teachers can intervene to support adolescents.
Transitioning from primary to secondary school can be a very daunting yet a difficult process, as the curriculum is much different. Based on research, results have shown that there are many children who feel uncertainty to the idea of transition. They would often have concerns based around making new friends, bullying and finding their way around the new unfamiliar school. The transition process can have a negative impact on a child’s social aspect while they themselves are going through a developmental process. Transitioning from primary to secondary school is one challenge, however many children are going through ‘dramatic growth, that will begin as they enter early adolescence and puberty.’
As boys tend to grow muscular, grow facial and their voice would start deepening, whilst girls will develop breasts and start a menstrual cycle. Based on research results, there are girls who can ‘enter puberty early’, this could depend on their family background and the parent’s relationship. Dysfunctional families and poor relationships can cause girls to ‘enter puberty early.’.
Some adolescents can be affected by transition socially, as this can have an impact on their self-esteem due to the rapid changes they are facing. Schoolwork and homework itself can be a challenge, as these children have followed a curriculum with the same subjects for several years. However, the curriculum changes in secondary school, as subjects such as languages are taught. Academic achievement is encouraged through competition and on who can achieve the highest grades, this would add on the workload and pressure the adolescents are facing.
The adolescents would find this very challenging as they would be required to follow a timetable which is filled with different teachers and classrooms, as they are mainly used to one teacher teaching all their subjects in the same room. Furthermore, these adolescents are under the pressure of making their own decisions as they are required to be more independent in secondary. These adolescents would be required to gain some self-management skills and organisation skills, as they will be preparing for exams with revisions and home learning. In primary schools, teachers often provide their students with equipment, however this is not the case in secondary school.
As the adolescents would be required to bring in their own equipment as it will not be provided. ‘The disruptive nature of the transition process means that previously-learned behaviour patterns need to be adapted to new demands and more challenging environments, which may have a strong negative impact on peer relations and the students’ academic achievement.’ With regard to Hanewald, the process of transition can impact the adolescents’ academic performance due to the anxiety and stress that surrounds transition. Some adolescents may not feel a sense of belonging at school, which can result to them becoming ‘disengaged, with the potential of dropping out of school altogether.
With regards to dropping out of school, it would ‘jeopardise’ the adolescent’s choices of career or employment in the future. Relationships with teachers can be a challenge that is related to transitioning towards secondary school. If adolescents were to establish a positive relationships with their teachers, it will enable them to feel a sense of belonging at school. It will help them build a mutual level of respect for one another, also students would be motivated to attend school and complete their studies.
Support from teachers can have a positive impact on adolescents and their emotional well-being. However, if teachers were unable to support their students by establishing positive relationships and giving them the support, they require. It would result to the student becoming hesitant to ask for help with the subjects that they struggle with, they will also hesitate to express their worries and concerns. The lack of support given by teachers can lead to negative outcomes of anxiety and low attainment.
High levels of anxiety will also occur, as the adolescents would go through the stress of dealing with the workload, deadlines and constant revision. ‘Anxious students experienced peer victimization and thus poorer peer transition, which led to lower self-esteem, more depression.’ These adolescents have taken on the behaviour pattern which they had previously learned, however adaptation can be difficult due to the new demands and the challenging environment. The difficulties that come along with this issue, is that it can influence peers and academic attainment. With transitioning schools comes along adjustment, some students may settle in well in the new environment, however, this is not the case for all students.
As some students may experience difficulties fitting into new social groups. When a person feels unsettled, it would lead them to loneliness, depression and overall unhappiness. These negative feelings will lead to the adolescents to feeling disengaged and it can eventually lead them to the option of dropping out of school. This vast decision has many potential risks that could affect their ‘future and employment.’There are many adolescents who feel overwhelmed with worry, around the idea of entering a new school. However according to Hanehold’s article ‘Parents and students were generally excited about the range of opportunities available at high school.’
Many students felt excited about studying different subjects and gaining independence. In secondary schools there are a more of range of extracurricular activities, this gives students the opportunity to interact with one another. Along with transitioning to high school, adolescents would have the opportunity to have different subject teachers, as in primary schools all subjects were taught by one teacher. Languages are commonly taught in secondary school, rather than primary. Subjects such as science involve lab experiments which can be very enjoyable for some students, as these opportunities were not provided in primary school.
Extracurricular activities are another opportunity students would have as there is much more of a variety to choose from, activities such as science, art and drama. The environment is larger, this gives students more of an opportunity to make friends with people in different year groups. This will enable students to establish friendships and build up their social skills, as they will be communicating with other people with different ages, backgrounds and ethnicities. Building up social skills, will enable them to build empathy and become more considerate towards people. There are many ways a teacher can support their students, maintaining a positive attitude and being understanding towards adolescents.
Simple guidance such as giving the students a tour around the school, will avoid the chances of the adolescents getting lost or arriving late to their lessons. Also providing students with information based on the equipment they are required to bring, can also be helpful. Teachers can ask older students to participate in assemblies during their free time, to speak to the beginners and give them advice on how they can cope with exam stress and making friends. Good characteristics need to be shown by teachers, as it will be much easier to establish a positive relationship between the teacher and student. It would be helpful if teachers were to maintain a mentoring role, as this gives the students some reassurance to trust their teacher. ‘When those with few resources do develop a mentoring relationship with an adult, they are more likely to reap more benefits.’
Teachers can raise awareness about bullying, by implementing this choice of the topic into personal, social and health education lessons, as well assemblies. ‘An important approach to preventing bullying is training in theory of mind.’ This is a great opportunity for students to realise the severity of bullying and how it can affect people’s health and emotions. By speaking about the topic of bullying and using real-life examples, will help these adolescents learn the importance of people and their feelings.
Parents and families can support these adolescents by attending parent meetings to see the what strengths and weaknesses they have, so they can support them. This would give the teacher reassurance, that the students are receiving as much support at home. ‘If parents were more academically encouraging, students experienced more care from their teachers.
This balances out the support these adolescents are receiving from both sides, it will encourage the student to achieve the best grades and to flourish in life. This also shows how high expectations from parents can further motivate the adolescent to work for the best grades. Parental involvement lessens the chances of an adolescent choosing to drop out.
To review, it has been shown that, the process of transition is something that every student goes through. As I have mentioned throughout my essay, parents, and teachers both can implement their support to make the process easier for the adolescent. A strong support system can help adolescents to adjust to their new school environment as well as social groups. This will help them build their self-esteem and confidence, into making new friends.
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