The big jump
Making the change from junior to senior primary school is a bigger change than you might think.

Parents often mistake the shift from junior to senior primary as being a little step up in the world. We’re wrong, fellow parents. For children, it’s actually much akin to traversing a rocky ravine, and they’ll need a jump rope, grappling hook and really good map. Oh, also, sorry – you can’t go with them for much of it.

But it's not that big a deal

I am guilty of this – I really thought that the skip from Grade 3 to 4 would be, as my mother called it, a doddle. I was so very wrong. The foundation phase or junior primary years are called that for a very good reason they’re settling the soil from which your child will grow, like a sunflower. Except – here’s the error I made – I forgot how harsh the environment could be when it comes to growing time.


While in junior primary grades, children are still quite guided although they’ve totally got it managed when it comes to tying their own laces or perhaps packing their own bags. But when it comes to remembering things for the next day, or making sure they’ve finished a project on time, a lot of the work is up to them. I am, by nature, a mollycoddling mama, so guess which person battled a bit when it came to this increased set of responsibilities? It wasn’t me – it was my child. I had to learn to let go, let her forget something and let her falter a bit. It goes against our very nature of nurturing to do so, but it’s through that little bit of life experience that our children learn.

Academic Demands

There’s also an increased level of academic demand being made on our children in the senior primary years. Homework seems to quadruple, projects seem to just appear and, oh that’s right – learning for exams. Sure, these examinations are not like Matric finals, but they need to be taken as seriously because this is where you’re laying down the good studying habits that’ll hopefully see them through to the last days of school or university. But when that urgent need to nurture and protect kicks in again, and you want to save them from all of it, you have to hold back and let life (and studying) happen as it is meant to.

Meet yourself again

Thrown into this mix is the very beginning of the teenage years. Yes, I’m talking about all the hormonal changes that children start to go through – they start nowadays as they go through senior primary. So do an increased demand for socializing and an even bigger demand on parents to try and be understanding. The scariest part for me this year…was meeting myself in another person. All of the elements of my own personality that drive other people crazy? Oh, they’re all showing their genetic sides in my daughter. My mother would call this karma.

My only piece of advice for parents of children who are about to take this bigger-than-it-looks step is this – don’t let the increased demands on your child steal the magic of this journey. They’ll learn a lot, you’ll learn a lot, but don’t forget to stop and realise that this is just one of many steps you’ll be taking. Get excited for this one and the next ones to come, because the magic of a child growing up never ends.

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