Times of change are stressful for adults and children alike. However, it appears to me that the transition between primary and secondary school is a greater cause of upset than it has ever been, writes Tougher Minds Head of Education, Andrew Foster.

My own experience of this was one of blissful ignorance. I was the only one of my primary school classmates sitting any sort of entrance examination that year, I didn’t really have much idea of the significance of the examination and so I just turned up and sat it. Afterwards, my mum and dad gave me an orange football that remained my pride and joy till, having used it on the tarmac, all the orange leather fell off. That was as stressful as it got for me.

Today, all the children I speak to engaging in this process are well aware of its importance. Preparations commence a long time before the examination, and sometimes parents can allow their understandable desire to see their children enter the schools they think best for them result in a great deal of anxiety for both themselves and their children.

This is why I am so glad to be taking part in the Tougher Minds event on 10th March at the UCL Institute of Education. It will show that he run-in to the 11+ exams does not have to be a terrible treadmill of tutoring sessions and tears.

I am looking forward to helping both the parents and the pupils who attend understand how to better manage themselves and their time so they are more likely to achieve the outcomes that they are hoping for,and as importantly are happier while they do it.

If I was to offer just one piece of advice at this stage, it would be to be aware of the important of positively weighted reflection. Our brains are survival mechanisms and as such are prone to paying far more attention to threats than is really warranted.  If every parent sits down with their child at the end of each day to record three things that went well and one thing to improve, they will be hep to shift that spotlight off those things that cause anxiety and onto the real progress being made.

Good luck to all, and I look forward to seeing many of you on the 10th.

You can see more details about the Tougher Minds event here. It also includes a session for parents with children studying for GCSEs and A Levels.

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