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Unhappy starting school

(130 Posts)
SusieB50 Thu 15-Sep-16 18:42:07

Can anyone help/ advise me how to help a distressed daughter ? Her eldest has just started school where she attended nursery quite happily . All was fine last week when she finished at lunchtime ,but this week it's all day and she had to be peeled off DD yesterday sobbing that she didn't want to stay . Poor DD was in tears too . She said the class teacher looks a bit stern ,but the teaching assistant is very smiley. She foolishly went and peeped into the playground at lunch time and DGD was just sitting on a bench looking very unhappy . SiL took her this morning but it was no better . They are not allowed to come home for lunch which I think is a bit harsh. DGD is very shy with new people but otherwise a bubbly happy child . It's so sad to see them all upset like this .

kittylester Thu 15-Sep-16 19:00:02

dgs was awful after his first full day which we put down to tiredness. His uncle had to be peeled off me and, seeing how upset I was, she would ring me at home and let me know how he was. He's fine now and has two degrees his name so it didn't put him off learning and he was always fine by the time I picked him up.

It is distressing but will probably turn out ok.

obieone Thu 15-Sep-16 20:27:47

Ask for advice from the teaching assistant in the first instance.

obieone Thu 15-Sep-16 20:29:01

informally, when stern teacher is not around.

Andyf Thu 15-Sep-16 20:29:32

Our grandson started school last week also. Like your granddaughter SusieB50 he just did mornings last week. He had two days where he cried and didn't want to stay. Today was his first full day, he's tolerating it but not liking it yet.
Last night he was looking through the window and he said to his Daddy, "I wish I was a bird then I could fly away from school".
His fourth birthday was only three weeks ago. He seems so small at school.

Luckygirl Thu 15-Sep-16 20:51:53

He does not seem so small for school - he is! - too small!

One of my DGSs has started this term and he is fine - but then he will be five next month, so is more mature.

I think your DD needs to talk with the teacher SusieB50 - most schools have this transition sewn up and all eventualities covered. There is usually a buddy system whereby an older child (or sometimes 2) is designated to take care of each new pupil and never to allow them to be siting alone and upset in the playground. That should not be happening, poor child.

Jalima Thu 15-Sep-16 20:57:05

DGD1 was just 4 when she started and seemed so tiny, but was absolutely fine, and continues to make good progress.
DGD2 has just started and is the smallest in the school (but not the youngest!). She was apprehensive but seems to be fine now.

I hope the reception class teacher is not stern and is approachable. Perhaps your DD should have a word with her or with the teaching assistant. Seeing a child for just a few minutes looking forlorn doesn't mean she is unhappy all day.

I note that she is the oldest child - perhaps she is also worrying that younger sibling(s) are having a lovely time at home with mummy whilst she is in school.

Jalima Thu 15-Sep-16 20:58:48

The theory is that if they come home for lunch they won't want to go back again in the afternoon!

Lillie Thu 15-Sep-16 21:04:44

Generally even the very youngest children are fine 10 minutes after the parents have left them. Maybe, just maybe your DGD was having a pensive 5 minutes on the bench, it might not mean she was unhappy all day.
The buddy system already mentioned is especially effective in the playground. Your DD could ask what the school's policy is if she is concerned.

BlueBelle Thu 15-Sep-16 21:25:57

My youngest daughter was 4 and two days when she started school she went on the school bus with her older brother and sister at 8 45 and came home at 4 pm she had been waiting to go for ages she never seemed phased by it and never cried She took it all in her stride all my children went to nursery prior to starting so it was just like a continuation of that They didn't have the half day easing them in in those days

Katek Thu 15-Sep-16 21:27:19

Poor little toot Andyf.......up here he would only be in second year of nursery and wouldn't start school for another year. Youngest they can possibly start is 4 1/2, and if they're born in Jan/Feb you can defer them for a year. Why do they start so young in England? Hope all these tinies settle in soon.

Crafting Thu 15-Sep-16 21:36:56

I think most children go through phases of being happy at school and then getting upset at the thought of going. SusieB give it time, I'm sure she will settle. Ask the teaching assistant to keep an eye on her but I'm sure she's not the only one who needs time to get used to it.

durhamjen Thu 15-Sep-16 22:05:05

I thought it was the same in England. They do not have to start school until the term they are five. It's just that most of them do because they stay with their friends from nursery.

Welshwife Thu 15-Sep-16 22:08:44

It could well be it is the actual parting from her mother which is the problem. Maybe DD could try having someone else take her to school. In a child's mind it is a very different situation if they are leaving their mother (and maybe siblings) at home than if the mother leaves the child and goes off to do things she is not part of. If that is not possible then a very quick parting without any fuss could be the answer - a quick ' bye - see you later' might work.
Being on her own in the playground could have a number of reasons or could have been just a one off DD was unfortunate enough to see. I do think it would be a good idea to ask the teacher or assistant if she is OK most of the day - and if DD can allow her to think everyone at home had such a boring time all day could be an idea.
I wish you all luck with it though - I always felt so sorry for mothers leaving an unhappy child as they worried away for a long time whereas the child had found something interesting to do quickly.
Do keep us posted.

Welshwife Thu 15-Sep-16 22:12:19

The children do not start year one of the National Curriculum until the September after their fifth birthday. Prior to that they are in a Reception class - I think the legal starting age is the term in which they are five.

durhamjen Thu 15-Sep-16 22:12:24

Andy, if they are born April to August they do not have to start until they are five.

Andyf Thu 15-Sep-16 22:15:51

Katek, any child who is 4 on or before 31st August starts school in September. If he'd been a week younger he wouldn't have started until September 2017. He will be fine soon. Poor little toot 😊, I like that. I've been calling him a poor little sausage.

durhamjen Thu 15-Sep-16 22:20:06

That's by choice, not by law, Andy. I mean choice of the schools, not necessarily the parents.

Andyf Thu 15-Sep-16 22:21:14

Sorry durhamjen, I didn't see your post. I didn't know that. Too late now for him. I'll ask about that.

annodomini Thu 15-Sep-16 22:57:16

Two GSs (cousins) were only just 4 when they started school. One was a big lad and already had an older sister a class ahead of him. He has always been completely at home in his class and is now in the fast track stream in Year 8. The other one was also tall but less mature and didn't know many children in the school. It took him several years to catch up. However, he did well in Year 6 SATs and is now in Year 7, hoping to play football!
It should be pointed out that Reception is a continuation of Nursery - at one time they were jointly known as 'foundation'. The school where I chaired the governors had a unit for nursery and reception, where they shared a playground specially for the younger children.

SusieB50 Thu 15-Sep-16 23:04:37

Yes I'm sure the fact there is a baby of 4 months at home and my daughter is a enthusiastic active childminder as well isn't helping so DGD is leaving a fun place each morning ! It seems a really good school chosen because it was relaxed with plenty of outdoor space . I will certainly suggest DD has a chat with the teaching assistant , SiL took her today with the dog which helped a bit .

Katek Thu 15-Sep-16 23:08:32

Do they attend reception class for a full day? Second year in nursery they're still only in for half a day plus it's not compulsory. Dgs who was 3 in April has just started his ante pre school nursery year, next autumn he'll be in preschool class before starting in primary 1 aged 5 and 4 months the following year.

Bluecat Thu 15-Sep-16 23:27:20

Do we ask too much of tiny children, expecting them to cope with full-time school when they are only 4 years old?

My DD and her partner have decided to home-school their 4 year old, having asked (via the school) if they could defer her entrance into Reception until September 2017 as she just isn't ready. I think you know your own children best and what they can, or cannot, handle. The headmaster, though quite sympathetic, had hinted that the council would probably refuse the request but, in fact, they ignored it completely. So DD and her OH are going ahead with home education for the little one and also for their 6 year old, who was unhappy and falling behind at school. As they live with us, I'm very involved and I think it will work out well, though it's very tiring for me and their mum! It will be a bit easier from next month when, all being well, the 6 year old may go for 2 days per week to a small and informal Montessori home-school group, which the little one will then join when she is 5. Hopefully.

Home-schooling will always be a minority choice but it does mean that a 4 year old who isn't ready doesn't have to go through that stress. My sympathy to the OP and her DD. I've been in that position with my own kids and it isn't fun.

Jalima Fri 16-Sep-16 00:14:39

I think this has been discussed on previous threads, but may be worth mentioning again.

They do not have to start shool until the term they are five, so summer born children do not have to start school in the September just after their 4th birthday.
However-Local Authorities insisted that, if they deferred that year, the child had to join in Year 1 the September after they reached 5.
This means they miss a year in Reception. Reception year is play-based, they get to know the other children, how school functions etc so missing that year and starting in Year 1 is more like being thrown in at the deep end.

I think a test case may have been brought and won in one area this summer to enable a summer born child to defer a year and start next year in reception.

Of course, a lot depends on the reception teacher and a stern one could be offputting for a bareley 4 year old.

DD had one like that who should never have been given a reception class.

Jalima Fri 16-Sep-16 00:16:10

Excuse typos - again! Tablet not responding