At Amity International School Amsterdam, we work hard to set our students up for success so they can fulfill their unique potential.Principal NEVILLE KIRTON 

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From Primary to Senior School: 5 Ways to support our children during their transition period

From Primary to Senior School: 5 Ways to support our children during their transition period

Transitioning from Primary to Senior School is a significant step in our children’s educational journey. It can be an exciting yet anxious period for young learners. Going to a new building, meeting new people, creating new friendships, having various subject teachers instead of one classroom teacher… everything changes! Understandably, changes might make them feel nervous.

As your children start this new phase, as parents, your ongoing encouragement becomes a crucial factor. We need to give the children the strength to handle the difficulties of Senior School with determination and ensure they keep achieving in both their personal and academic paths. In this blog, we want to shed light on how, as parents, you can support your children during one of the most important periods of their young lives, their transition from Primary to Senior School.

1-      Familiarise yourself with the local education system and transition exams

If you are living in the Netherlands, and your child is transitioning from Primary School to Senior School, then you might want to be familiar with the CITO exam system and the School Lottery to support your child and to decide which path they will take.

In the Netherlands, there are several types of secondary education, including VMBO (preparatory secondary vocational education), HAVO (higher general continued education), and VWO (pre-university education). Based on your child’s education journey so far, the Primary School teacher provides preliminary advice on which path to take. This advice is normally confirmed by the results of the CITO exams, standardised tests that are taken in the final year of Primary School (groep 8). The exam results, and the advice of primary school teachers, help guide the family to make choices on their secondary education.

Following their results, there is an allocation system implemented in Amsterdam, the School Lottery, that assigns children to their desired schools randomly. Therefore, around this time of year, there is typically a surge in requests for school placements from Dutch families. We see that many families are not happy in the school they get and are looking for alternatives. Many families appreciate the benefits of international education, recognising its potential for their children in the future.

Since Amity Amsterdam is an international IB World School in the Netherlands following the IB philosophy and curriculum framework, our applicant students are not obliged to take the CITO exams nor dependent on the School Lottery as they are transitioning to secondary school. At Amity Amsterdam, we have our own assessment and admission procedures. There are certain requirements, assessments, academic performance, and language proficiency criteria for applicants who are thinking of continuing their education at an international school.

Therefore, to ease the transition period, the first step is to be aware of the requirements to get ready for the assessments. You can get more information on our Admissions process and our assessments from our website or by contacting our Admissions team, Ms Elspeth and Ms Sarah.

2-      Engage in honest and open conversations about their feelings

It is normal for children to feel nervous and anxious during any transition period. It might be hard for them to express their feelings and may not find a safe space to talk about their feelings. Thinking about all the changes, such as new faces, older students, different teachers, and varied subjects can make them feel overwhelmed. Considering the heightened hormonal activity characteristic of adolescence, teenagers may undergo an even more pronounced experience of this transition.

As a parent, it is crucial to reassure your child that their feelings are entirely normal and shared by many others in similar situations, emphasizing that they are not alone. Engaging in an open dialogue about how change can evoke feelings of melancholy can help ease their concerns, and by assuring them that familiarity with the new school environment will alleviate these emotions over time, you can contribute to their sense of calm and provide them with a clearer perspective on their future.

3-      Create daily routines and a safe study environment

When our children start Senior School, they need to have an organised study environment at home that has good lighting, comfortable seating and enough space. You can support them in establishing organisational habits, a steady study schedule and consistent daily routines to support a sense of stability during changes. Being aware of important exam dates and deadlines of projects at the beginning of the Senior School might be helpful to keep them on top of their lessons. Additionally, they might need assistance with their homework and projects. However, it is important to guide them to do their work independently, instead of doing it for them.

4-      Be involved in their (educational) journey

Family support is indispensable for a student's academic journey. As students are going through a transition period, it is highly crucial to be aware of their progress and to stay in touch with the school. At Amity Amsterdam, you can be involved in your children’s educational journey by attending our one-on-one parent-teacher conferences or contacting our Senior School Counsellor to share your concerns or your ideas about your children’s transition. In this way, you can stay informed about their academic, social and mental situation and gain more insight into their daily school life from their teachers and counsellor. However, it is important to avoid projecting your expectations and concerns onto them. Also, these conferences are great ways to exchange information, which enables us to create a more personalised approach to our students’ learning.

5-      Promote Social Integration

During this transitional phase, our children may encounter social obstacles. Encouraging them to engage in Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs) becomes paramount during this period. Within our school's Senior School programme, many CCA options are available, ranging from football and jewellery making to drama and chess. Each term, Senior School students can select two CCAs, allowing them the opportunity to explore diverse experiences, create lasting memories, and cultivate new friendships.

Moreover, at Amity Amsterdam, we have implemented two systems that actively promote the social integration of students: the House System and Vertical Tutoring. These systems align seamlessly with our guiding concepts of holistic development of students, the culture of care, and student leadership. The House System is important in creating a strong sense of community and collaboration among our diverse student groups. At the beginning of each academic year, students from various age groups are sorted into distinct "houses" with specific names; currently, we have four houses—Phoenix, Dragon, Gryffindor, and Yeti. Throughout the academic year, these houses engage in friendly competition across sports, academic challenges, and extracurricular activities, fostering mutual support within our school community.

Additionally, our Vertical Tutoring (VT) system plays a vital role in promoting social integration. Students from different age groups are grouped under the guidance of the same teachers. Daily meetings provide an opportunity to discuss school updates and students participate in teamwork activities. On a significant note, older students take on mentorship roles, providing invaluable assistance to their younger peers. This mentorship is particularly effective during the transitional period that PY5 students undergo. Therefore, we believe having these systems is immensely beneficial, as it not only cultivates a sense of community but also encourages collaboration across diverse year groups.

The transition from Primary School to Senior School marks a significant period in your children's life. It is often accompanied by feelings of anxiety, nervousness, and lack of motivation that may result in lower grades and social withdrawal. Establishing a supportive environment is vital during this crucial period. At home, you can support your children through the tips provided in this blog. By fostering open communication, addressing expectations, and offering academic support as needed, you contribute to nurturing their emotional well-being and facilitating personal growth. As your child begins this new adventure, your continued support becomes immensely important, empowering them to navigate the challenges of Senior School with resilience and ensuring continued success on their personal and academic journey.


  • Primary School
  • Senior School