WITH the start of the summer holidays and the seemingly endless possibilities for weeks of fun, you would be forgiven for thinking that our children have a lot to celebrate.

Debra Radford, NSPCC assistant director for Yorkshire, Humber and the North East, says: "For many of our children that is very true, but we know from contacts to Childline that for some children these summer holidays mark the end of their primary school adventure and they’re facing the daunting prospect of starting secondary school just weeks away.

"Our dedicated volunteers at Childline from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 delivered 472 counselling sessions to children and young people who were concerned and worried about starting a new school.

"Children have told us that starting secondary school can be a scary time and every year lots of young people tell us that they are worried about the change in environment, about their friends not going to the same school and worries around if they will be bullied.

"These worries have been compounded by Covid, the cancellation of transition days for year 6 pupils means the normal apprehension surrounding starting a new school may feel more overwhelming than it would have done before the pandemic.

"So, I wanted to offer some advice, not in September for when the big day arrives but now at the start of the holidays so we as parents and carers can help our children prepare and feel better about the prospect of this new chapter in their lives.

"We can help children understand that whilst change can feel really difficult, overcoming it gets easier the more often they do it and how eventually they may start to look forward to new challenges.

"The idea of having new teachers, new subjects and meeting new people can be scary but also pretty exciting. It is important to talk to your child, listen to their concerns and understand that they could be feeling scared, excited and, also, sad.

"Going from primary to secondary school is a big change – there are lots of new people, new routines and different work to get used to. They may be catching public transport by themselves for the first time for example. Whilst it’s comforting to have a familiar friend from primary school who can be sharing this new experience that’s not always possible. So, I would say it is important to focus on the positives with your child, perhaps remind them of when they started primary school - or other times where they might have been in an unfamiliar place with new people.

"It is so important to focus on the positives in your conversations with your child and from the moderated message boards on the Childline website we see a lot of positivity being shared by the young people who post, supporting each other at this potentially scary time and sharing their own experiences of starting “big” school.

Childline is here, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Young people can contact 0800 1111 or 1-2-1 chat on childline.org.uk.