Having heard the concerns of parents about the challenge of guiding their children through the difficult transition from primary to secondary school, the Limerick Home School Community Liaison Coordinators worked on a guide to support parents through this transition. This programme is called ‘My Child, My Vision’. While the input of parents’ views and meeting their needs is important, the key to this programme is in the co delivery of the programme by parents and HSCLs, as equal partners.
It has been an absolute privilege for me as a teacher to work with a parent in co facilitating group meetings for parents in 5th and 6th class. You may ask, ‘why 5th class?’ Limerick has a common application system for the allocation of places in secondary school and this process begins formally in the September of 6th class, with the second level schools beginning to hold their open nights. Every child has to have submitted their form in and around the Christmas period of 6th class. Parents felt that they needed to be engaged with the process much sooner, so as to pick the most suitable school for their child.
The format of the ‘My Child, My Vision’ programme is to hold 2 group meetings for parents when their child is in 5th class, 2 more when he/she is in 6th class and to hold a further 2 meetings with parents when the child is in 1st year, that meeting is also facilitated by a parent and the second level HSCL. The aim of this is to assist young people in settling in and finding their feet in their new adventure and transitions. The programme provides a space which allows parents to voice their fears and concerns about the transfer to second level education, in a supportive and understanding atmosphere and the opportunity to tease out some of the myths that surround this important transition, not only in children’s lives but also parents’ lives. Through these discussions, solutions are offered and explored in a helpful space, where it is not the teacher who is the expert, but the parent, who knows, loves and is committed to their child and their wellbeing.
The sessions include topics and tips with coping with change, self-esteem, friendship, and looking at practical issues such as reading a timetable or using a locker and so on.
I would welcome and recommend for any parent facing this challenging period in family life to come along to the sessions to discuss any concerns or fears they may have in relation to this important transition.
The link to the full course manual is available by clicking here.
This piece was written by Tracy Fitzgerald, who is the Home School Community Liasion co-ordinator in Our Lady of Lourdes National School, Rosbrien, Limerick.