Need reassurance about school - its not all bad, is it?!

(154 Posts)
mamalost Thu 24-Jan-13 23:01:46

I was planning on HE-ing DD for at least reception (she is due to start in Sept) but it is not going to work out at the moment. In the last few months I have spent A. LOT. of time reading about home educating etc and I really believe in it even though we can't practically make it happen at the moment... I have sent in an application for reception and now am feeling like a massive failure and like I am going to damage my children by sending them to school. Please - tell me its not all horrible children on the playground, nasty teachers, strict rules and pointless lining up? I am so worried about DD starting school, I feel ill just thinking about it and its months away. sad

neolara Thu 24-Jan-13 23:07:30

My 2 school age dcs have had a lovely time. They had done a LOT of playing, they have made some great friends and they generally have been excited and stimulated by the activities they get to do. The whole family has been welcomed into a proper supportive community based around the school. I don't know if we've just been particularly lucky.

dixiechick1975 Thu 24-Jan-13 23:26:39

Does she go to pre school at all?

Reception is the same EYFS as pre school - lots of play. I assume you liked the school you applied for - focus on the good points.

DD is older but not encountered any horrible children or nasty teachers yet.

Pointless lining up? Well she does lining up - she does the same at dancing and gymnastics - safest way to go down stairs and enter the room rather than a scrum grin

I think your attitude will rub off on DD. If you approach it as the worse thing in the world then she will pick up on this. Have you looked into part time or flexischooling or even keeping her in pre school until 5.

simpson Thu 24-Jan-13 23:39:43

I don't think there is any pointless lining up in reception tbh...

DD is in reception now and is having a great time. The most important thing for me is that she is learning to take turns, makes friends, follow instructions etc...

DS is in yr3 and yes he does line up before going into school but that is teaching them about turning up on time etc etc...(as well as giving the teacher time to do head counts etc) he too enjoys school.

CocktailQueen Thu 24-Jan-13 23:47:51

Don't be daft! Most kids enjoy school and get a lot out of it, make friends, learn things, get to be part of their community... the list is endless!

why do you have such a negative opinion of school??

mamalost Fri 25-Jan-13 00:01:24

Mostly because I think that I spent quite a bit of time doing things that weren't particularly useful for 'real life'. I also see so much silly cattiness between girls especially, and I hate the amount of testing that goes on too. (These are just a few of the reasons!)

I also think that there are other places and situations that you can learn things like time keeping, making friends, following instructions etc.

Some of the posts on this forum also have very worrying content about some of the things that go on in schools - bullying (by peers and staff) children not getting the attention they need, etc etc. I did not grow up here, so I have no primary school experience to call on. I moved here as a teenager and although my peers had a lot of 'head' knowledge, they didn't have any common sense and that always struck me as a shame. You can't teach that.

BackforGood Fri 25-Jan-13 00:10:41

I don't recognise anything you've put in your OP, from any of the schools I've had any involvement with.
Where are you getting your ideas from ?

dixiechick1975 Fri 25-Jan-13 00:17:38

People post what is worrying them or their dc though. This forum isn't real life.

I've never started a post on here from memory as dd is happy and thriving at school.

If I had I would have said how happy dd was in reception, how fast she learnt to read, how no one said anything remotely mean to her about her disability, how she made friends with a mix of children and is part of the school community.

When your dd is allocated a place try and attend school events - fairs, concerts, assemblies etc - same when your dd starts at the school. You will feel much more involved and reassured.

Pyrrah Fri 25-Jan-13 01:44:08

DD goes off to a school nursery that is to all extents and purposes Reception-Lite everyday from 9am to 3.15pm. She absolutely loves it and I have no doubt that she will love school too.

She had terrible separation anxiety as a baby - from 5 to 23 months it was just impossible to leave her anywhere as she would scream solidly for 3 or 4 hours and no-one would look after her or babysit for us.

I started her at nursery at 26 months and was petrified - my baby who I had never been away from for more than 5 or 6 hours was going to have to cope without me. Well, I went to pick her up after an hour and she was so cross she screamed the whole way home. Nursery said not to bother with the settling in period so from the next day she went full-time. Couldn't even be bothered to say goodbye to me.

I've gone and looked at 5 separate schools for Primary and there really is a huge difference in feel between different schools. Ones that I liked on paper I didn't care for when I actually went round and vice-versa.

I am quite prepared to be the ultimate Tiger Mother/PITA/That Parent, and when I look back, I was subconciously convinced that there was an army of people out to 'get' my child and I would need to defend them all the time. So far I haven't needed to be in any way at all... no member of staff runs to hide when they see me coming at any rate!

No sure if that helps at all, but it really isn't as bad as you imagine!

DeWe Fri 25-Jan-13 12:23:14

DD1 cried every holiday in year R and year 1. She's grown out of that now she's in year 7 wink
Dd2 used to do herself a calendar counting off the days till the end of the holidays.

And even ds, (year 1) who professes to hate school, was off last week for 2 days (having missed 3 the week before) was desperate to get back into school on the Friday so he could "see his teacher and play football with his friends".

I don't treat them that badly at home. Honestly <eyes up chains dangling off walls in the damp cellar> grin

They enjoy what we do at home but are usually very pleased to get back too.

Do bear in mind, OP, that people don't post about their child trotting off happily to school every day and making lovely progress. They only post when there is a concern.

FWIW DD is in year 1 and loves school. Has lots of friends, loves her teachers/TAs and this year when she pulled the Christmas crackers she was able to read the jokes grin Fantastic.

OTOH there are things with the school I am not overjoyed about, but none that are directly affecting DD.

If you based your expectation of relationships on what you read on MN, you would be amazed to find anyone with a happy marriage! Ditto education - people post on here largely because they are having problems.

And on the HE board, and other HE sites, a higher than average proportion of the posters will have had problems with schools, either for their child or back when they were at school themself, or they imagine that there are going to be problems. Not all by any means - I HEd for 2 years for practical reasons, and many people choose HE as a positive decision not as an anti-school decision. But the posts will largely be about how good HE can be.

School is fine for most children most of the time. Don't you think the rest of us would be mounting serious campaigns to sort it out if they were the way the problem posts make it sound - those are the exceptions, not the norm.

lalalonglegs Fri 25-Jan-13 13:21:58

I'm guessing your school experience wasn't great but not all schools are the same and schools have probably changed a great deal since you left as well. My children have all loved and really looked forward to attending school and reception in the vast majority of schools is very gentle and focused on exploring learning through play. Try to feel positive about your daughter's start at school so as not to stress her unnecessarily. Good luck smile.

grants1000 Fri 25-Jan-13 13:30:48

Both mine, one in his 2nd year and one in his last year adore and love school. The friendships they make are so important, and the support and care for each other they have is really touching. The do such fun stuff, like Y6 were allowed to throw snowballs at the headmaster last week! Also compared to my experience of primary school in the 70's, today is worlds apart. The teachers and the school are very open and supportive, I have been in twice this week as their grandfather died and they have been brilliant at talking to them about it and helping, eldest Ds suddenly got upset and the head of year took him into the staffroom for some alone tea, with a drink and a biscuit. The other teacher was great as I was worried about youngest DS reading but we went throught it all with a fine tooth comb and I feel so much better. They are doing really well on the education front too, they also are great at really knowing each child well and adapting to their needs and requirements, it is so not the 'one size fits all' education of the 1970's. Go for it, you will both love it!

cory Fri 25-Jan-13 13:43:34

Remember that the other children will be somebody else's beloved dd or ds, and they may well be afraid that your dd will be horrible or catty to their little one.

(and hand on heart- can you be sure she never will be? children do go through odd phases)

schools are not the only places where bullying can happen, it is a risk you take if you let your dd associate with other children at all, anywhere. In my experience, though, many schools are very good at dealing with it and I have learnt a lot from dc's schools which has made me a better parent.

I know I have posted frequently about some problems we had with dd's junior school. But then I have also posted frequently about the problems we have had with dd's disability and with her being misdiagnosed by the local hospital: this does not mean that everybody who has a baby can reasonably expect that it will be disabled or that anybody who sees a doctor should expect to be misdiagnosed!

The infant school and the secondary school could not have been more lovely- and most of dd's friends had a lovely time at the junior school too.

Both dc have made lovely friends at school, dd at 16 is still best friends with the girl she played with at infants, both have liked their teachers, any issues with bullying have been resolved swiftly and efficiently by the school.

Like you, I came from abroad and was dubious about the British education system, but I have been very pleasantly surprised. Dd doesn't know exactly the same things as I knew, or valued, at her age, but I can see how her learning is benefitting her. I found I could enhance dc's learning experience by trying to help them to see how what they did at school did have some ultimate purpose.

LittleChimneyDroppings Fri 25-Jan-13 13:58:14

My dd is in reception and absolutely loves school. She would be devastated if she couldn't go there any more, and she's learnt an incredible amount of diverse things. I'm really impressed. Ds has just started pre school, a few initial anxieties, but now he's started to really enjoy it too. I considered home ed at one point, but looking at how happy and settled dc now are, I'm so glad we chose school instead.

Bunbaker Fri 25-Jan-13 14:01:27

"and now am feeling like a massive failure and like I am going to damage my children by sending them to school."

Why? Most of the population send their children to school and most of them are happy and fulfilled. You will always get a distorted view on an online forum because often places like MN offers support for parents who have children with problems at school, among other things. MN is not a snapshot of real life. You will also get a biased view from people who do home educate as they aren't exactly going to come on here and admit that it didn't work for them.

FWIW DD was very happy at primary school and she had the kind of education I could never have given her - not having the time, inclination, skills or resources.

Does your daughter go to pre-school? Can I suggest that you go and look around some schools before you decide they are all peopled with evil bullies and bossy teachers.

BTW an acquaintance of mine tried to home "educate" and failed miserably. She removed her daughter from a very good school where she was happy. Her daughter was lonely and isolated and the boys just weren't interested. It wasn't until the boys started school that it was discovered that they were dyslexic. This acquaintance didn't have the skills to recognise it.

mamalost Fri 25-Jan-13 23:04:00

Thank you everyone! I know it sounds silly but I am just overly worrying about it. No, DD doesn't go to preschool. The schools in my area are a real mixed bag (we live in inner city London) and the only school that is not dominated by one or other ethnicity (I mean, so she won't be the only white girl in her class) in our catchment area is a church school. A lot of local parents seem to like the school so hopefully my DD will be happy.

I think because I had originally thought of home educating and I mostly hear and heard stories of how amazing it is you begin to worry that school is not a positive place. I do have some concerns about testing young children (SATs in y2?!) but I think that perhaps I might try school and if it doesn't work then think again about HE. The hard thing is that I feel like I have to either go for one or the other. If I think that HE is the best then I have to change everything about how our lives are organised which is a massive thing to do, or we do school and see how it goes before thinking about having to HE. I think HE sounds amazing but there are definitely some draw backs too.

Thanks for your opinions and experiences. I feel much reassured!

Patchouli Fri 25-Jan-13 23:15:34

I'd love to HE. But realise that perhaps it's something I'd love to do for myself rather than what's best for DD. So DD is in school. It wouldn't take much for me to pull her out mind, and it's always an option if school goes wrong. But DD's in year 3 now and as it's turned out she's thriving in school.
Give your DD the opportunity to see how it goes for her, then think again later.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 07:40:21

Thanks Patchouli, my reasons for HE were this: over-testing of children throughout school career, long hours in school compared to amount of 'learning' done, how child-led curiosity and learning not happening as much as teacher-lead learning (ie - what we think children need to learn as opposed to what they really need to learn), also the herd-mentality of a group of children without many adults involved, the age at which children start school here. (To name a few!) I still see the amazing things that HE can be - but there are things that schools are really good at too. I think I am just going to wait and see if DD gets a place in school before we make any final decisions. I just don't like the uncertainty of not making a decision! I would need to seriously re-orientate my whole life to HE, as I work part-time, so it would demand alot from me, and this is almost half the question too... how much am I willing to sacrifice? (And at the back of my mind my HE friends would say that although it is hard work and sacrifice, after a while its not anymore because they see how amazing it is for them and their children!)

I think on either side there are really pro-HE people and really pro-school people and I can see the good things (and bad things) in each and its just trying to decide which to try first! That's the tricking bit. sad

missmapp Sat 26-Jan-13 07:46:09

A friend of mine was very keen to HE but couldnt for many reasons, she decided to try reception , planning on HE in Yr1. Her children were so happy, they are still in school and in Yr 3 and 4.

Try and see, but ensure , and I am sure you are, that you are positive about school infront of your child, as it is important she starts school happily.

seeker Sat 26-Jan-13 07:48:00

Oh, and don't worry about the SATs in year 2 thing either- they are low key, and mostly teacher assessed- they aren't lined up in massive exam halls in silence for hours!

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 09:15:42

At the moment I am thinking more on the reception side and if it doesn't work out then try HE-ing. I am not negative about school in front of DD - or even in general, I guess I just have questions and concerns but obviously not that I discuss with DD! smile Sometimes she says she wants to stay at home with me and her brother, but sometimes she says that she wants to go to school. I have just told her that she can go to school but if she doesn't like it then she can be with me and her brother.

Does trying school first and then HE-ing if it doesn't work out seem the right way around or trying HE and then if that doesn't work or if the kids ask to go to school then send them to school?

seeker Sat 26-Jan-13 09:26:36

I honestly think you have to be properly committed to your decision, whatever it is. Saying that she can try school and if she doesn't like it stay home seems to me to be a risky strategy- of course she won't like every single thing every single day- she wouldn't if she was HE either!

Can you identify specific things you are concerned about in Reception? Then maybe work on some strategies to deal with them?

teacherwith2kids Sat 26-Jan-13 09:35:26

I have HEd and sent my children to school and am now a primary teacher, so I can see all sorts of sides to this one!

One piece of advice, though - do send your child to some kind of 'away from you' setting, at least for a morning or two a week, from now until they start school. Very few children nowadays arrive at school without some experience of being away from their parents/ carers and with a group of children, and if your child has no such experience at all you are making the chances of their transition to school being difficult just a little bit higher IYSWIM?

A generation ago, this was not the norm - teachers were all geared up to deal with children for whom the first day of school was also their first day away from parents. Now it is relatively unusual.

If you decide not to - not even to let your child do e.g. a swimming class or a gym class or a dance class once a week away from you, then do discuss this in detail with the school before your child starts. They will deal with it brilliantly, but will be able to do so more proactively from the very first moment if they are made explicitly aware of it.

School, by the way, especially in Reception, is not a place to be worried about at all. As I say, I did HE for a while, but that was a function of a particular problem with a particular school and a particular child, and the fact that my children have clocked up 11+ years in school between them with only 4 months of those presenting any kind of problem whatever (and I would have HEd again in a heartbeat) indicates that.

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