Julie  Grosjean

From pressure to resilience: Helping children transition from primary to secondary school

Uncovering the areas for fostering resilience during the transition from primary into secondary school

Who has not suffered from performance pressure before? Performance pressure is the feeling of having to achieve high results, as they relate to important events or lead to further consequences. Performance pressure is omnipresent in today’s performance-driven society.


Unfortunately, performance pressure can start at an early age, and young children can suffer under this pressure. Certain situations enhance this pressure even more. The transition from primary to secondary school is one of those situations. The grades and report cards receive much more weight than before as they determine the first step in a career path. Due to the student’s awareness of how important the grades are, the students themselves often create the most pressure during such grade-related situations. For students to be able to cope with such pressure, fostering resilience is a good opportunity. Resilience is the ability to rapidly adapt to difficult life situations and to quickly return to a positive mental state.


To help transform this problem the LeZ-Box was created. With one part of the LeZ-Box, the children are able to better and more efficiently prepare for such grade-related situations, this makes the situation calmer and the students are able to recall the studied material more effectively. The other part helps the study build their resilience against performance pressure, which can help them further cancel their anxiety before an exam. It also gives them methods to apply when they feel pressured not only in exam or grade situations.


Gaining information and creating space for intervention

To receive insight into the problem, different interviews with both experts and users were held. From the gained information other design methods, such as the harris analysis or strategy wheels were used to analyse the findings and create a space for intervention.


Intervention testing insights

The «LeZ-Box» is a two-part working tool; one part offers a selection of study methods, and the other shows ways to promote resilience. The «LeZ-Box» is a concept that can be used in any classroom and is not explicitly aimed at 5th and 6th primary classes. During the testing with one teacher and 16 students before an exam, the effectiveness of the box was already visible. The box was well received by the teacher and many students had a positive experience during and after the resilience exercise, as they were able to complete their exams more calmly.

Design Process

Problem Map

System Map

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