Primary to secondary school: 3 significant changes your child will face

Shubhdarshani Mitra
Feb 23, 2024
Secondary school

The shift from primary school to secondary school is marked by a host of changes, such as increased academic rigour, independence and social dynamics. Children in this age group grapple with issues like identity, friendship and future aspirations. Moreover, during this period alongside these challenges, they’ll experience significant physical transformations. Adding to this complexity is the pivotal change that comes with transitioning schools.

This is when children leave their primary school teachers and familiar routines, making the big move to secondary school. Everything from the subjects to the school schedule is more extensive and can feel daunting. It can be stressful having to adapt to multiple changes at once.  

As the parent of a secondary-school-age child, you're likely aware of potential challenges your child may experience as they progress from grade to grade. Here we are going to focus on the three big changes that your child will face:

1. Academic expectations

2. Social interactions

3. Personal growth

1. Academic expectations

Classes become harder, work becomes more involved, and it takes more effort to earn good grades in secondary school. More is expected of an older student than a primary-school-age one. And often, children simply aren't prepared. 

More subjects are being taught in a day, and the subjects are more complex. Sometimes, the school day itself is longer. This is especially true for children who also engage in extracurricular and co-curricular activities.

2. Social interactions

More time spent on academic pursuits often means less time spent with friends. However, children in this age group usually feel a powerful need for inclusion. Also, wanting to be part of a group and be accepted can feel quite overwhelming. 

Children may experience moments of vulnerability, embarrassment, shyness and isolation. Therefore, they need more support, guidance and acceptance at this stage.

3. Personal growth

Hormonal changes and changes in body structure, emotions and mood are all normal occurrences for secondary school students. Still most young teens go through awkward phases or phases where they're especially clumsy or self-conscious. As adults, we can look back, shake our heads and knowingly smile because we’ve all gone through it.

What GIIS is doing to help

As an inclusive educational institution, GIIS is paving a smoother path for primary school students as they enter the hallowed halls leading to adulthood. The safeguards we put into place are intended to make every student's life easier from day one.

Positive teacher-student relationships

A positive relationship between teachers and students is one of the most effective methods of easing the transition from primary to secondary instruction. A friendly and welcoming classroom environment, one-on-one assistance when a student is struggling and positive feedback are some of the practices at GIIS, which help in smoother transition. Students are rewarded and celebrated for their ideas and encouraged to share and take the lead in their education.

9GEMS framework

The primary objective of the 9GEMS framework is to develop student character through a holistic approach to learning. Through the 9GEMS, students have the opportunity to participate in arts, sports, leadership, personality development, creativity and innovation, skills development, community and universal ethics. As a result, students are exposed to activities that go beyond the academic classroom.


RISE is an acronym for Respect, Integrity, Skills and Empathy. These are all highly valued attributes at GIIS. RISE inspires our student happiness index as well. GIIS actively tracks student satisfaction rates through feedback, parent input, attendance, academic performance and level of participation in school academics and activities.

GIIS Healthline

The GIIS Healthline is a number that students can call when in crisis. They are entirely confidential and counselling is provided to students who reach out for help. (For GIIS Singapore, the healthline number is +65 9723 4938.)

Also read: How does GIIS foster a positive teacher-student relationship?

If you'd like to learn more about how GIIS works to help ease the transition from primary school to secondary school, please feel free to contact our admissions team.

Shubhdarshani Mitra

Shubhdarshani has over 10 years of experience in content creation, curation and editing. She has worked for Indian newspapers, school magazines and international news websites where she worked closely with the leadership on the execution and communication of the content strategy. Aside from work, she’s a passionate B&W photographer and storyteller.

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