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Stepping up: Year 2 to 3 transition tips

If you have a child moving from Year 2 to Year 3 take a look at our expert tips on how to smooth their step up

If you have a child moving from Year 2 to Year 3 there are ways you can smooth their step up and help them navigate their new school environment. We asked Lloyd Dannatt, Deputy Head – Academic at Hurst College for some expert advice.

What are the main worries of children at this age?

Making friends – if they are joining a new school they will naturally be worried about making friends, however two weeks in they will feel as though they have always been there.

Getting lost – children will have been predominantly based in one classroom in Year 2 and will have moved around the school chaperoned by a vast team of adults. In Year 3 they will be allowed to roam freely (within limits) and be responsible for getting themselves to different places such as the Music Room or Drama Studio, whilst hugely exciting, there is the worry that they will get lost, but rest assured all teachers are forever counting heads and everyone in the school will be looking out for the new children to help them if they need directions – after all, everyone was new once.

What key differences are they likely to face as they step up to Year 3?

The school day will usually be a little longer, and combined with a little more movement around the school to specialist teaching areas, children may feel a little more tired to start with, but within a week or so they have usually adjusted very well. The children will start to be more aware of the patterns in the day and will have a timetable to follow with bells starting and ending lessons.  Homework will gradually taper up and will start to become an important part of their learning, laying the foundations for increasingly independent working.

What can parents and guardians do in the build up to help them feel confident and at ease?

If you have them, talk through the class list and pupil photos so that their children recognise some of the others when they start, take up any opportunities for play dates over the summer holidays so that they can start building friendships. If they are taking up new sports in Year 3, familiarising them with these over the summer is a really good idea and if there is an opportunity to join a sports camp at their new school these are an excellent way to meet people and become a little more familiar with the school buildings.


What about on the first day back at school?

Be organised with uniform and any kit lists – make sure everything is ready and that nothing is missing well in advance. The last thing they need is a panic the day before trying to beg and borrow kit or worse still worry that they have been sent in without something they know they need.

When you arrive in the morning, let them go in. They will be absolutely fine and you waiting around in the playground, for what will seem like hours, will only worry them and distract their focus on the day ahead.
Other parents will be feeling as anxious as you, get together for coffee 30 minutes after drop off, that way you have to leave and you’ll be spending time with the parents of your child’s new friends, you’ll probably see a lot of them over the next 10-20 years, so you may as well start now.

Make sure you are there in plenty of time to collect them.

Any special tips for those starting at a new school site entirely?

See if you can sneak in for a walk around in the week or so before they start back. Find their classroom/peg/toilets etc. Better still go on a virtual tour if one is available and let them guide you or other family members around.

Year 3 classroom at Hurst

What sort of things might schools be doing to ease the transition?

Some schools will give children a taster of their new environment. In the summer term before they start, new joiners at Hurst Prep come in and spend a day in their new Year 3 classroom, with their new Year 3 teacher, together with the internal Year 2 children. This is a great way for them to start meeting other children joining Year 3. The teacher also invites all the parents to come in for a ‘Meet the Teacher’ event – a relaxed opportunity to ask questions and meet other parents. A similar evening event happens again a week into starting Year 3 to give everyone the chance to ask even more questions and meet each other again.

What questions can parents ask their school that might help?

No question is too small or trivial, just ask, it’s probably been asked before! Over the years many, many questions have been asked at Hurst so these together with the answers have been incorporated into a joining pack setting out information from menus, to timings in the day, names of key people, dates of the nativity etc

What sort of ongoing parental support will help children handle the differences in Year 3? Any skills they can be helping them build? 

Organisation is key. Help them to establish routines for packing bags with the correct books, making sure they have their swimming kit on the right day, making sure they have learnt their spellings before the day of the test. It’s very easy to organise everything for them, but this is a year for laying foundations for the future, so show them how to check they have everything they need in the bag rather than always checking for them.

Hurst College has its next open day coming up on Sat 21 Sept,  01273 833636,

Find more ideas here


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