Tired children after school...

(54 Posts)
FSTeacher Fri 08-Mar-13 20:10:38

Dear all,

I am not a parent, but an Early Years trained teacher. I am currently teaching a class of 26 Reception aged children (between 4 and 5 years old), the class will go up to 30 after Easter.

In recent discussions with parents, some are concerned about how tired their children are after school.

I ensure the children have time to relax in the afternoon as a whole class and then create the opportunity to continue this relaxation until home time if they seek it. We talk a lot about listening to our bodies and knowing when our bodies need a rest and when they need to use up energy. I certainly have no problems within the classroom as the children show no signs of being too tired in school. However, parents suggest that by not insisting ALL children relax I am not fulfilling my duty of care and therefore disregarding children's well-being.

I would welcome suggestions on how other parents manage their child's tiredness after school as well as advice on how I might run the day slightly differently to alleviate some of this stress. I will not insist that all children rest all afternoon as not all children need it.

I believe that children do learn to make decisions regarding their basic needs at this young age.

Thanks!

girliefriend Fri 08-Mar-13 20:14:21

Well kids are tired after school but I am not sure I understand the concern confused that is fairly normal and to be expected in reception age kids.

Just tell the parents to ensure their children are going to bed on time and I minimised after school activities at that age.

N0tinmylife Fri 08-Mar-13 20:18:08

I don't think there is anything you can do to stop children being tired when they go home from school. My DS is currently in Reception, and comes home from school shattered and grumpy. I tend to think it is par for the course.

I have seen him at school, and he spends all day being well behaved and cheerful, which is a huge effort when you are 5 years old. At the end of the day there is a lot of pent up moaning and winging to come out, and that happens when they get home, where they feel safe, and are able to relax.

bubbles1231 Fri 08-Mar-13 20:18:51

DS1 fell asleep on the bus sometimes when he first started school!
His P1 teacher said if some children seemed really tired in the afternoon she let them have a little nap on the beanbags. It certainly wasn't all of the children, just the ones who felt they needed it.
She also said it didn't matter if they didn't manage to get homework in on time if they were too tired to do it at the end of the day.
Parents appreciated the fact that each child was treated as an individual, and no one complained as far as I know.

LynetteScavo Fri 08-Mar-13 20:22:02

I'm going to name change and come back, but firstly, are you in the UK? What type of area is this? ie, are the parents taking their DC to lots of after school activities?

FSTeacher Fri 08-Mar-13 20:25:08

I totally agree that this is a normal part of starting school.

I certainly treat all children as individuals, hence why I will not insist they all rest as I know the majority do not need it.

Parents are quite upset by the fact their children are too tired to have quality family time after school...any comforting words I can offer them?

girliefriend Fri 08-Mar-13 20:27:26

Tell them to get a grip its normal <unhelpful> grin

jazzandh Fri 08-Mar-13 20:31:37

What are parents expecting that their children should be doing after school?

At DS1's school (independent) they had no official after school clubs available until the summer term, as they thought that would be too much for the little ones.

To be honest mine would come home and I expected them to crash out in front of the TV until teatime. With an early bedtime to follow. Par for the course.

Other than a bit of reading I wouldn't set any homework for little ones.

bubbles1231 Fri 08-Mar-13 20:34:14

Tell parents they may need to scale back on after school activities and not to worry, the tiredness is normal and will pass. Some parents get very anxious, don't they? :-)

RedPencils Fri 08-Mar-13 20:41:06

Parents are complaining you're tiring their kids out too much? Please come and be my DTs teacher.

PointlessCow Fri 08-Mar-13 20:45:29

DD started Reception in September and despite being one of the oldest in her class was exhausted by 3pm every day. Waaailing hysteria on the school run, or monosyllabic weeping. Tantrums or general grumping around. The autumn term was pretty unpleasant.

She also fell asleep in class a couple of weeks ago. However, as someone mentioned above, her behaviour in class was fine. I would never expect the teacher to ensure that she had time to rest at school, nor do I think DD would want to actually. Making sure she gets enough rest is my job as her mother: very chilled weekday evenings and early bedtimes. The parents of your class are being a bit unreasonable IMO.

poshme Fri 08-Mar-13 20:46:19

I would suggest 2 things to them- 1) their children will need a snack immediately after school - in the playground sometimes! And 2) their children will be tired- it's normal- and they may need to go to bed earlier.
Forcing all the children to rest at school when they don't all need it is not helpful IMO.
(I'm a parent of 3, and was a primary school teacher)

poshme Fri 08-Mar-13 20:47:39

And whatpointlesscow said- I didn't let any of my kids do after school activities in the autumn or spring terms of reception.

FSTeacher Fri 08-Mar-13 20:53:47

My impression from parents is that they feel it is not acceptable for children to be so tired after school and that there is something fundamentally wrong with the education system...and that it is my (teachers/schools) job to ensure this is avoided at all costs...I am trying to work out whether it is at all possible for me to do that.

Whatsdoneisdoneisdone Fri 08-Mar-13 22:31:42

I feel that there is something wrong with an education system that makes children who are as young as just four attend full time education. If they are so tired they can't have family time, are wailing and hysterical or falling asleep in the classroom then is it really doing them any good? Really?
My ds will be just 4 when he starts this December and I'm hoping the school will allow him to go part time for the first term. I cannot for the life of me see what benefit there is to forcing them in so early. We don't achieve any better as a nation. In fact we come off worse than the countries that start them at 6 or 7.

It is not of course the teacher's fault. It is just how it is. But it seems crazy to me.

Andro Sat 09-Mar-13 12:35:46

May I just say that you sound like a very good and caring reception class teacher!
I don't see what else you can really do, other than mention snacks and tell parents that tiredness is pretty normal. I certainly wouldn't have thanked any teacher for 'making' my DD rest, it took her about 3 weeks to acclimate to reception (the first week she was asleep in the car on the way home!), but by half term she was bouncing out and full of energy...more rest was the last thing she needed!

seeker Sat 09-Mar-13 12:40:08

I used to keep my dd home the occasional Friday- with the full approval of her reception teacher. And I wasn't the only one. And I sometimes used to collect her in the car rather than walking. But being tired isn't a bad thing!

PolterGoose Sat 09-Mar-13 19:25:50

Find out what time they are going to bed, if they are tired in the afternoon it is highly likely that need more sleep at night.

MrsMushroom Sun 10-Mar-13 22:29:34

I wish they could do less hours at this age. Or maybe do 4 days out of 5. They're very small imo for such a long week.

MrsMushroom Sun 10-Mar-13 22:30:46

Your desire to work out how to help is admirable. But I honestly think it is all down to too many hours in school per week.

These are tiny children being made to do a full time week....they need time at home too. Then we'd have less illness too I think.

jkklpu Sun 10-Mar-13 22:33:00

I don't see how it's your fault. Parents need to give their kids snacks and drinks and let them relax, as well as making sure they get enough sleep at night and eat reasonably.

wrongsideoftheroad Sun 10-Mar-13 22:33:31

Gawd, my summer born reception aged DD is ALWAYS tired after school.

That's my problem, though, not yours! They sound like a bunch of silly sods.

Honestly - we try to avoid after school activities, get reading/homework done as soon as we get in, tea at 4, bed at 6 and I wait for my quality time with her at the weekends.

You sound like you do a great job smile

wrongsideoftheroad Sun 10-Mar-13 22:34:01

I meant the moaning parents were silly sods, btw, not the children!

snice Sun 10-Mar-13 22:38:43

when the parents talk about 'quality family time' is this meaning 'having dinner at 6/6.30pm round the dining table once both parents are home from work with a discussion about everyones day?' 'cos if it is then the parents are going to be disappointed for some time.
IME some reception children need feeding immediately after school with a large snack (then a smaller tea later) whilst lying on the sofa watching TV-quality time it ain't

MrsMushroom Sun 10-Mar-13 22:42:00

snice that's not true of ALL children that age. My Dd has a snack when she gets home and then tea with her Dad, sister and me at 6.00.

She does graze a bit after her snack but it doesn't stop her eating her tea. She's a healthy weight.

Karoleann Sun 10-Mar-13 22:53:28

Ds1 was fine (may birthday) in reception. First term we didn't really do many after school activities apart from a couple of after school play dates. By third term he was doing three after school things and was fine. He rarely went to end before 8.
Ds2 is younger in the year (July birthday). In his first term, we had maybe three days when he was very teary and tired and he just didn't go in. By then we had moved to private schooling, but had it been a state school I would have lied that he was ill. This term has been much better, but there's no way he could manage an after school activity. He needs to be in bed for 7.30 at the latest.

Anyway, basically it depends on the child, but their should be the facility, if children are ever tired for them not to attend.

snice Sun 10-Mar-13 23:22:29

which is why I said 'some reception children' MrsMushroom !

my own children were always full of beans after school as long as I crammed a biscuit in their mouths the minute we got through the front door

Eachpeachpearwherestheplum Sun 10-Mar-13 23:22:34

FSTeacher I am so a teacher and mum of a reception child.

One thing that I do think would really help is a 2:30 toilet stop and snack time, then story. So that my 3pm the childrens blood sugar is stable, they are comfy and have had a calm end to the day.

The worse time to do PE is the end of the day,its stressful getting changed last minute and getting ready to go home, so avoid as much as possible.

I would also try and ensure that children are working in small groups on teacher directed tasks right throughout the day for shorter amounts of time, so not all am then free flow pm.

Lavenderhoney Mon 11-Mar-13 19:17:47

My ds comes home, has a snack and drink with his little sister who is thrilled to see him. They watch crap tv for a bit then we do any homework - spellings or whatever- then they play. It's free time. Sometimes we swim or dd has an activity after ds school so me and ds have some time together, then home and repeat. Bed at 7pm , stories etc

We don't do activities after school for ds. He gets over tired, over emotional and prefers to play with his sister, watch tv. He used to fall asleep in the car which sometimes made for a later bedtime, but that's ok as I am relaxed about it. Maybe their dc are napping and eating into adult time in the evening?

Plus some dc have after school extra tuition which they are probably too tired for. But that is the parents decision and nothing you can do about it. Unless they are too tired for school next day!

helsbels03 Mon 11-Mar-13 22:04:32

Wow what a caring teacher. I assume for the complaining parents this is their first child going to school?? I have 3 dc and am a teacher myself and most children are tired after school- they come to learn and that is tiring, you are not a babysitter. I definitely find giving mine a snack as soon as they come out helps, and an early bedtime. It's tough on days I work as I only have an hour- maybe this is the case with your parents? Perhaps they resent having to put them to bed so early and miss their time with them?

pudding25 Mon 11-Mar-13 22:10:55

I am also a primary teacher with a child in reception. Kids are tired after school. Nicely, tell them to get a grip! Also, tell them to make sure their DC are going to bed by 7pm so they get a decent sleep if they are really tired. Limit playdates and clubs.

frecklemum Mon 11-Mar-13 22:32:26

My dd2 used to come home from school and put her pj's straight on. She has a summer birthday- so one of the youngest in her year and completely shattered by around 6pm. She would have an early tea (4.30pm) and never go to after school activities until at least after Easter, We used to give her a bath in the morning as she wouldn't have coped even lasting till 7pm.

nailak Mon 11-Mar-13 22:52:44

Doesn't anyone think it is an issue that the education system in this country means we do not get quality time with kids?

kids finish at 3.30, come home by four, tea, a bit of rest and tv, then is time for homework, supper bath and bed.

I think systems where kids go to school from 7.30-1 then are home for lunch and can then rest and have whole afternoon to spend with family, are better for family life and following different interests.

MrsMushroom Mon 11-Mar-13 23:05:11

Nail I think our system is too ridgid in the early years and with far too much emphasis on early reading etc.

I would like less push on academics and a 4 day week for the little ones. Although your idea of school ending early sounds nice, there would be a LOT of kids with child minders in the afternoons and not with family at all...people work.

Andro Mon 11-Mar-13 23:05:41

I think systems where kids go to school from 7.30-1 then are home for lunch and can then rest and have whole afternoon to spend with family, are better for family life and following different interests.

Except not every family has a SAHP, so children would be in childcare until a parent finished work - it wouldn't make a difference without an entire cultural shift to having a SAHP being the norm.

nailak Mon 11-Mar-13 23:15:42

yes I agree, I think our system is more geared up to benefit a working lifestyle then a lifestyle geared towards family time and extra curricular activities.

This is not to say WOHP dont have quality time with their kids, this is not the point of what i am saying.

A lot of people work, but a lot of people also work shifts, nights, evenings etc.

MrsMushroom Mon 11-Mar-13 23:21:16

Andro but it WOULD make a difference to the children who have a parent on shifts or part time.

Andro Mon 11-Mar-13 23:39:42

That's true MrsMushroom, but it could also be argued that it could disadvantage children with 2 WOH parents...especially if the earlier start means an earlier bedtime (thus meaning even less time with their parents).

Startail Mon 11-Mar-13 23:52:32

Tired!
I wish, DF said my 8pm bedtime since a toddler DD1 would be tired when she started school. Her DCs went to bed at 6.30 envy

Was she tired, of course she wasn't.

As for DD2, she both happily did longer than school at nursery and followed DD1s bad example.

In truth I'm not convinced DCs are half as tired as their parents like to think they are.

But some of them are grumpy and badly behaved. DD2 I'm looking at you. DD2 is an absolute angel at school and takes out all her pent up irritations on me as she walks out the gate.

nailak Tue 12-Mar-13 00:53:36

so basically andro as a society we prioritise having two woh parents, over time that could be spent in family activities?

nailak Tue 12-Mar-13 00:55:15

my kids regularly fall asleep when coming home from nursery school (youngest is 2 middle 4 and oldest 6) I also remember coming home from 6th form/year 11 and falling asleep on the sofa most days. This has the knock on effect that they are up in the evening!

Snazzynewyear Tue 12-Mar-13 01:41:51

You sound like a lovely teacher OP. I too suspect that quite a few of these kids aren't getting enough sleep and need earlier bedtimes.

anonymosity Tue 12-Mar-13 03:00:48

I think its normal - its not that they are physically over-tired, but that the stimulation is needing time thereafter to be processed.

With my own Dcs at that age they would definitely have a rest after school and some food, a bit of quiet time before the inevitable surge of late day energy.

Andro Tue 12-Mar-13 10:20:30

I think nailak that we do now prioritise 2 WOH parents (at least to a certain extent), mainly because so many families can no longer afford to live on one income. The answer is a complete culture change, but I'm not sure the kind of overhaul required is even possible.

MrsMushroom Tue 12-Mar-13 11:03:30

Andro I wouldn't advocate a 7.30 start...but I WOULD advocate a 4 day week for infants.

Those with 2 working parents could benefit from a fully play based day...more like nursery, on the Friday....the others, could stay at home or attend as their parents chose.

Andro Tue 12-Mar-13 12:56:18

I take your point MrsMushroom, I really do. I have no doubt that many children you benefit from what you suggest, I'm just having a bit of trouble 'visualising' it because my DD adapted to full time reception so easily (and a full day of 'play based' activities would have bored her senseless).

MrsMushroom Tue 12-Mar-13 13:39:47

Then the 5th day of non compulsory play...comapany of her peers...and creative, play based activities would suit her wouldn't they? But for others, who may be more tired...or having more of a hard time settling in, the 4 day week would be ideal.

One day of full play and outdoor activities would probably reduce the problem of obesity as well.

ZZZenAgain Tue 12-Mar-13 13:49:47

IMO the school day is far too long for 4 year olds.

Andro Tue 12-Mar-13 14:27:18

Your idea make a lot of sense MrsMushroom.

nailak Tue 12-Mar-13 14:32:32

on friday afternoons they have golden time at my dds school, it seems this means they sit and watch disney movies

MrsMushroom Tue 12-Mar-13 14:45:01

Nail have you said anything about that? I wouldn't consider that Golden. I'm not a weirdo and of course my DC watch the odd movie....but it should be a once a term treat imo.

School is for learning...not for sucking up Disney shite. I'd feel more positively about it if the films were at least educational! But my DD...she hates sitting through a whole film...like me, she often gets bored halfway and wants to DO something.

nailak Tue 12-Mar-13 18:24:05

I haven't said anything about that!

Goingdownthegarden Tue 12-Mar-13 21:13:37

I live in a country where they don´t start school until they´re 6. When I see how dd has to work now to learn to read and with her numeracy, I am just relieved we didn´t have to go through all that when she was 4. I guess they do learn faster starting aged 6 (this seems to be the finding of most research - and it makes sense: German and French 22 year olds don´t seem to have a lower reading age than 22 year old Brits!), so they are probably under more pressure now aged 7 than British 7 year olds. Even still, I´m glad dd spent her time as a four and five year old able to decide for herself how she was going to spend her time at nursery. I don´t mean she determined the programme, but "teacher-led" activities were nature walks or music or at most baking. The rest of the time, she could decide herself if she would do some painting, make something (cutting and sticking etc.), build something, imaginative play. I could imagine that having to sit down when the teacher says and work on a particular activity is really hard for a minority of four/five year olds.

My request though even now to my child´s teachers is that they make sure they have snacks in the afternoons (my dd is unfortunately not at a school which goes until 1pm and then all afternoon is family time). We have to send food for mid-morning, but I notice a huge difference between dd when they have been allowed to eat up the snack mid-afternoon and dd when the teacher has not made sure that the kids have eaten something in the afternoon.
A snack in the afternoon means she is still human at pick-up time!

Muminneedofzzz Thu 14-Mar-13 11:59:56

I think you should do a nicely worded letter to all the parents saying you have had several parents worried about tiredness. Explain it is normal behaviour at this age, that you do have quiet times and quiet activities in the day and are not making them run around all day! Advise parents if their child is struggling that a healthy snack as soon as they come out of school may help as well as an earlier dinner/bathtime and to make sure they are not being tired out by after school activities which normally are not advisable until at least year 1.

At least you have put your point across to everyone, informed them of your daily activities with them and made it clear the responsibility of tiredness lays with them the parents too to ensure their child is rested when at home. smile

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