How your Year 7 child develops

Entrance to high school building
As they move from primary to secondary school, what changes can you expect to see in your child?

You’ve bought the uniform and the new school bag, but are you prepared for how the transition to secondary school will change your child? As they enter Year 7, they need to do a lot of growing up in a short space of time, and your support is crucial to see them through this time of change.

What's going on in there?

At age 11 to 12, most boys and girls are in the midst of puberty. As well as the physical changes, you’ll also notice more hormonal behaviour from your child. They’re likely to be moody and tearful and can be difficult to live with. They also have lots of worries connected with starting secondary school, and may take them out on you.

Year 7 is the age of independence for many children; they’re probably tackling the journey to school on their own for the first time, and being more self-reliant in general. But they’re likely to want more independence than you’re happy to give them, and resent being told what to do.

Friendships are very important at this age. Your child is likely to want to belong to several clubs and is very competitive in sports and team games. They’re developing more intuition and insight into other people’s feelings, which makes them a better friend, but they also feel a strong need to conform to their peers’ values, fashions and interests.

Your child also likes to know that their opinions are heard and valued. “Although there will still be times when you need to put your foot down, try to hear your child out before jumping in with advice or instructions,” advises chartered educational psychologist Julia Busch Hansen

Potential pressure points

Tensions at this age are largely connected to friendships and the transition to secondary school. They include:

  • Making new friends, and balancing these with old friendships.
  • Adapting to life at a new school.
  • Getting used to being the youngest in the school, rather than the oldest.
  • Finding their way around the school buildings.
  • Coping with a new mode of transport to school, potentially walking alone or getting a school bus.
  • Understanding their school timetable.
  • Coping with more demanding school work and more homework.
  • Bodily and emotional changes connected to puberty.

Warning signs to watch out for

Although your Year 7 child is articulate enough to express their emotions, they’re also likely to be moody and withdrawn at times, which can make it hard to spot if they’re under stress. The signs to look out for include:

  • Sleep problems.
  • Making excuses not to go to school, such as having a tummy ache.
  • Dieting, skipping meals or expressing concerns about being fat.
  • Tearfulness or temper tantrums.
  • Concealing the signs that all is not well at school, for example hiding bad grades.
  • Being worried about text or online bullying.

“Make yourself available during the first few weeks of secondary school,” advises chartered educational psychologist and educational adviser Susan Brooks. “Your child is likely to need lots of support to deal with the changes in routine and expectations.”

Be informed about what your child will be learning at their new school, too – we have guides to what is taught in Year 7 maths, Year 7 English and Year 7 science. Your child is also likely to take Year 7 CATs at the beginning of the school year.