A workshop preparing parents and children for the transition to secondary school was held on 28 June 2019 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. The event was organised as a part of BAPS’s special focus on supporting and helping families on a wide range of real-life issues.
More than 60 parents and children attended the workshop and received valuable guidance from professional speakers, students and resident swamis at the Mandir. Children progressing to secondary school (Year 6) also received practical advice from those who had completed the move in recent years.
The evening began with thought-provoking impressions from secondary school teachers about the new and exciting challenges that parents and children will encounter, and practical advice on maintaining Hindu values during the transition and beyond. They also shared insightful guidelines concerning the dangers and benefits of using modern technology.
Separate sessions for parents and children offered an opportunity to address specific issues relevant to their respective groups. One of the swamis encouraged parents to allow their children to grow and develop through learning, and to adopt a flexible parenting style to help enhance this formative phase in their children’s lives. He drew upon teachings from the Bhagavad Gita and the life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj to illustrate how to foster confidence, responsibility and mutual trust with children.
Parents also benefitted from professional coaching to differentiate between anxiety, stress, self-esteem and lack of confidence in their children. They explored strategies on managing change for children and the impact that parents can have through their words and actions during this critical passage in their child’s life. The session also briefly covered mindfulness, bullying and a more specific focus on mobile technology.
A parallel session for children addressed practical issues in small groups. The interactive and open dialogue provided innovative solutions to tackle everyday scenarios positively. Older students shared their own experiences, which instilled confidence and further reassured those preparing for the change. Another secondary school teacher provided further guidance on how a disciplined routine can support life in secondary school. Children also learned how to remain respectful and safe during their interactions on various social media platforms.
A swami provided a motivational address on the importance of taking responsibility during this new phase of student life and making the most of the gift of education.
One of the lead organisers of the workshop, Nimisha Patel, explained, “Being a parent in this day and age is hard enough, so any help we can give to families and children during one of the most critical passages of their lives so far – when they’re still children but have all this pressure to suddenly grow up – just made sense. We’re extremely grateful to all the speakers who contributed to making this such a successful event and to all the participants as well. We’ve really encouraged everyone to make friends and share their experiences. We’re hoping to learn from each other and raise the best children for society.”