So they’ve made it! The shallow end is a thing of the past, there’s no going back now. Your precious little jelitots are now jelliseniors and jeliteens. First School seems so far away. The world looks very different now. Gone are the familiar boundaries.
Some of their friends have gone and there’s a whole new system to learn.
Big School seems so big to an 11-year-old. They’ve spent the last year being the big fish in the little pond and now they’re the little fish in the BIG, big pond. Is your jelibean swimming now? Do they still need armbands but they want to struggle on to scared to ask?
Hopefully there will have been an opportunity for you to have liaised with school, and also your jelibean has spent some time the previous term getting an idea of what life is going to be like.
Obviously no child, jelibean or marshmallow (neurotypical) is 100% aware of how they are going to cope. It’s just that marshmallows appear to be more adaptable whereas a jellibean feels unequipped to cope and is in much more dangerous water. Trouble is we jelibeans don't actually realise we need help until it's too late! Explanations and friendly chats over time will really help so please:
MAKE time to talk to your jelibean. Explain that the SYSTEM they’re used to is going to change. Be honest with them. Within primary/elementary/first school the classes are much smaller. Dependant on their age they will usually be allocated one teacher and one classroom. The routine is highly structured and quite personal.
Secondary/High/Senior school, however, is much bigger and less personal. There are very many more teachers and so very many more classrooms, and you have to change classrooms to go to different lessons. Explain that in High School it’s the teachers that are allocated classrooms and not the pupils. It’s very hard to understand when all they may have been used to is one classroom and one teacher. Jelibeans are happiest when they know the routine and what is expected of them. How are they going to cope with the ever changing schedule? Finding their way around and remembering to have the right books with them is a mission in itself. Timetables are essential but jelibeans lost things easily - please take copies and make sure you have a few spares at home!
Don’t frighten your jelibeans by telling them horror stories of what could happen. Encourage and reassure them, if necessary, talk to someone in Parent Partnership or a support system, or someone that you can trust to give you sound advice. Let’s make a start with some practical advice.
1.Label everything! It's heartbreaking for a jellybean to go to school and lose everything on the first day. And they will. They'll leave it somewhere, give it away, or just dump it.
2.Find out how your jelibean wants to travel to and from school. Do you live near or are they going to be expected to catch the bus? The school bus is very often a danger area where big red jelibeans choose to scare the little jelibeans and one driver just can't cope with the flying debris. What‘s happening between your front door and the school gate? A warning to all of you - this can be a very traumatic time. Please use your powers of observation carefully, and if you've got any concerns, please tell someone, without sounding as if you're just whining. Yes it's hard to do. But if you're the parent of a jelibean or two , and maybe one yourself, you'll know all about hard work.
3.School lunches - what’s the procedure? Do arrangements have to be made to accommodate your child? Unlike in Primary school a canteen system could be used, queuing, standing in line, and remaining patient probably not being one of your jellybean's greatest positive traits! Then having to make decisions and choices, all things that jelibeans have to do but find more difficult can add to the scary feelings. Does your jelibean, perhaps, feel comfortable eating with lots of other people? Has your jellybean got a special diet but doesn't want to reveal it and will eat the wrong things just to fit in? Will the worry and anxiety develop into a Tsunami? Check. The school may be able to put in 'reasonable steps' to help your anxious jelibean get to the front of the line during quieter times.
There are going to be a busy few years ahead for your child, lots of changes within themselves as well. We all know how difficult the teenage years can be.
Change is the most difficult thing for jellybeans. But it's hard for parents, too.
I’m sure that there will be very many of you who like me thought that some situations couldn’t get any worse WRONG! If you think that a change of school is the miracle that you have been waiting for you are in for a long wait! Remember Mrs Ooojamaflip, the teacher you hated? Bet you miss her now, at least she knew your child and all his/her little quirks (please don’t be offended by this word, it’s much kinder than a lot I've heard).
How many teachers are there now? I for one can't keep up with the continuing changes of staff. It’s very confusing for the parents so just imagine how your jelibean is dealing with it. How many Year Heads are there, how many teachers of English? For the adult jelibean, elementary school is far easier, you get to know the teacher, the building is far smaller and you can find your way around. I need a map to get to reception in high school, but on second thoughts I’ve never been good with maps either!
It’s the most gut-wrenching experience of all in my opinion as you watch, wonder and pray that they will survive the day never mind the next four to five years. But to get back to the kids, which we (remember?) once were, and which is what this is all about.......
ADHD jelibeans will find the buzz and excitement of a new school very stimulating but this amount of external stimulation will make them more prone to SENSORY OVERLOAD and therefore the weather warning could be very severe.
One of the difficulties with the move is that friendships that have formed already within primary school will now be tested to the max. With a new school comes new people and potential new friends and problems. For a jelibean to watch 'their friends' form new relationships with others, can be upsetting and very unfamiliar. It is easy for a jelibean to feel abandoned just when they need to feel safe.
Worrying and alone, it’s all too eas y for a jelibean to do one of two things - keep themselves to themselves and ‘hide’ which is a jellibean tendency anyway, OR gravitate towards any kind of friendly face, even if it’s joining up with a shoal of Piranhas and a passing Shark or two. It’s very easy for a misunderstood Dolphin or Sea Horse to get swept away in the wrong current. If you can't really interpret body language, gesture or sarky comments, how on earth do you make any real friends?
Jelibeans are extremely sensitive and spend all, yes ALL our time worrying what others think about us. OK yes, of course there are the tough guys that really don’t give a damn but that’s a tiny proportion of everyone. The vast majority of us have the biggest shiniest golden hearts which have been bruised and beaten over the years. And we can be, sad to say, easy targets for bullies and nasties.
And then of course there is the big 'B' = Bullying. Jelibeans are vulnerable and also gullible a lot of the time. We can fall into either category depending on who we are and how much Oppostional Deficance Disorder we have!
If you're bullied, you owe it to yourself and others to share this with parents and teachers. And because we love you, and may know exactly what you're experiencing, we'll help. But if we don't and can't, then we're not worth bothering with.