On fear and excitement – a child’s perspective

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I’m clearing out my closet, so to speak, disturbing much that has lain undisturbed for some goodly duration. It is cathartic, and has left me wondering at some of the earlier work I have carried out with children and young people through service level agreements with schools near and far.

So here, vastly abbreviated, is the summing up of a project on transition planning for Year 6 pupils in UK primary schools, shortly before transfer to secondary education. The comments of one young man in particular, impressed me with their clarity and perception.

The project was based over a 6 week period on secondary transfer. This session is on fear and excitement. What it is we fear most in the transition to a new school and what it is that excites most, that may help banish some fears at least, to a far away place. 

Here is the response of George, aged 11 years. George has a combined diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, with some specific learning difficulties.

I’m worried about –

  • Going to secondary school and not getting the work right
  • Getting told off for things that other children have done
  • Getting enough help – I don’t think I get much help anymore
  • Feeling some punishments are unfair because the teachers haven’t listened to me
  • My spellings and my literacy
  • New teachers not knowing me and my problems (my ADHD)
  • Sitting still and being told off for fidgeting even when I can’t help myself
  • Missing some teachers I’ve known for a long time
  • Having a good partner to work with in class – what if I don’t know anyone?

I’m excited and pleased about –

  • High School and finding some new friends
  • Collecting more football cards over the Summer
  • Getting some good comments and house points for my maths
  • Sports at the new school, football, swimming, cricket and hockey
  • Getting better at my spelling and writing with my Mum
  • Drawing and doing art lessons
  • Overcoming my dyslexia and getting better at reading and spelling

It is easy to think in this highly commercial age, that the wants and needs and aspirations of our young are material, about gain and acquisitions. I read through this project today and it was a salient reminder that for some young people, overcoming difficulties, having friends, feeling valued, having support needs met and fears allayed, are all-consuming desires.

We do well to heed the words of our young when they tell us what really is important, what matters. For when we do not listen, those needs will make themselves apparent by their actions, through fair means or foul, when words are no longer enough.

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