Transition – Primary to Secondary transition tips - part 2 | Dyslexia UK

Transition – Primary to Secondary transition tips – part 2

July 10, 2023 Keir Williams Comments Off

Updated for 2023

Transitions are an anxious time for both parents and children. They are high stakes, emotive times that are particularly stressful when a child has a specials educational need such as dyslexia. This two part blog post is written to help parents and children with some tips to ensure a smooth transition from primary to secondary school. See the first blog post, released 1 month ago: in a new tab)

Contingency planning

Often your child will be fine when things go well, but will not know what to do when problems occur. By brainstorming some of these potential problems with your child and discussing potential solutions, you will be able to prepare them, thereby reducing their anxiety and further empowering them.

Potential problems to consider. What happens if…

  • I miss the bus / arrive late to school
  • Get lost / lose my timetable
  • Forget my homework / lunch / money / bus pass
  • Loose and item of equipment
  • Feel I am being picked on
  • Feel like I haven’t got any friends
  • Where do go if I feel ill / sick / get hurt


Students with dyslexia often have difficulties in organising themselves and remembering things. By having organisation systems in place as a student you will be able to help your child in this area. Tips include:

  • Have a folder at home for letters and information from the school. Keep it in date order (or organised by term).
  • Mark key dates such as parents evenings, sports fixtures and any social events or exam dates on the family calendar.
  • Schools are increasingly using different platforms for: Homework, reports, finances (pay for school lunch / trips), monitoring attendance / rewards / behaviour as well as subject specific learning platforms. There are lots to remember. Keep a physical record of each platform web address, you log-ins and passwords as well as those for your child. Put a copy of your child’s log ins on the wall next to their desk.


Your child will need equipment both at school and at home. The following school equipment should be clearly labelled with their name and class / form group:

  • School bag
  • School uniform and PE kit (including shoes!)
  • Stationary (pens, pencils, calculator, ruler, colouring pencils, glue, scissors)
  • A spare copy of their timetable

At home your child will also need a purposeful learning environment to support them in completing their homework. This includes:

  • A dedicated work space with a desk / table and chair
  • A laptop or PC
  • A book shelf or box for books
  • A well equipped pencil case (it helps to have a home pencil case as well as a school one to avoid your child getting to school and realising that their pen is at home)
  • A pinboard with a copy of their timetable and login details to their different learning platforms
  • A colour coded timetable to make it easier to see what subjects they have the following day.

Daily routines

As your child gets older they will become more self dependent and responsible. However, when starting a new school, children have so much to remember that they are exhausted when they get home and will struggle to organise themselves for the next day. A task list of thing to prepare (possibly on post it notes or a daily tick sheet) can support you both in reducing stress and having a calm morning start. The task list of things to prepare for the following day should include:

  • Use the timetable to pack books and homework in the bag together. Slowly remove support throughout Year 7 to develop their independence
  • Leave the bag near front door
  • Also check that they have packed their: Glasses, Lunch, PE kit, Pencil case, Bus pass / money
  • Make sure the PE kit is always washed and ready for when it is needed
  • Hang up school uniform the night before


The amount of extra homework at secondary school can be a shock to both parents and pupils. Routines and organisation are again key to supporting your child in completing this.

  • Firstly, when your child gets home, give them time to relax and unwind first
  • A snack and drink will recharge their energy levels.
  • Start homework at a consistent time and place. Ensure that all the equipment they need is at hand.
  • Early on, sit with them and help them to check what they need to do and how to prioritise their tasks be deadline.
  • Try to start with harder tasks first and leave the easier tasks as a ‘reward’ for the end.
  • Use a timer to help your child to focus, maybe for blocks of 20 minutes with a 5 minute break at first.
  • The school will advise how long to spend on each piece of homework. If your child has not completed the homework after this time and is struggling, write a note at the bottom explaining that they spent the appropriate time and focus on the task but struggled to complete it. This will help the teacher to be able to pitch more appropriate homework in the future and also help reduce your child’s anxiety that they might be told off for not completing the task
  • Act as a scribe if your child is struggling to complete written work. Add a note explaining this to the teacher
  • If necessary, adapt tasks. You know your child best. If there are tasks they might struggle with, such as writing a page of text, but are able to demonstrate their understanding of a topic by completing a mindmap, encourage them to do this. Again, a note to the teacher explaining will be a useful support.
  • Where possible don’t leave homework to the night before, but instead try to complete, or at least start, each task on the day it is set.

School parent partnership

Unlike primary school where it is usually fairly easy to contact the class teacher, it can be difficult to know who to contact when you have a concern about your child at secondary school. Establishing connections with key people early on is important. Teaching staff are often hard to get hold of by phone during the school day, but are usually fairly easy to contact by email.

For initial queries and contact, your child’s form tutor is responsible for their well being. They may escalate your concern to your child’s Head of Year or Head of House if they cannot answer it. They will also be able to forward any subject specific queries you have to your child’s subject teacher. The SENCo is the best person to contact if you have a specific SEN concern.

Specific dyslexia support

Whilst the tips above are useful for all students, children with dyslexia will need benefit more than most from this additional support. This is because in addition to difficulties in memory and organisation, it is likely that students with dyslexia will be especially tired in the evenings as they have had so send more effort than their peers on focusing in class and concentrating on completing work in lessons.

At this difficult time, it is more beneficial to focus on building your child’s strengths, rather than addressing their weakness. Focus on what they enjoy and are good at and spend plenty of time on those things. At the weekends, try to get the balance right, so develop and celebrate their hobbies, interests and strengths rather than constantly looking at challenges. Try to keep non-school activities relaxing and fun. Try to have fun together such as sharing books, games, films, and computer games. These can all give enjoyment as well as learning skills.

If you require further information or want to discuss your concerns with a specialist dyslexia assessor, please contact us:

Further information on the signs of dyslexia in secondary aged pupils can be found here

For information on the common traits of dyslexia go to: