Part time start- school wont even discuss it

(95 Posts)
EnglishRose1320 Mon 14-Jul-14 11:02:25

I posted once or twice before about my concerns over DS2 starting school in September (probably just a fussy mum!)

He isn't the youngest of the year, he will be the oldest of the summer term children so still quite young, nowadays with all children starting in September I was hoping that the school would allow him to do a staggered start and build up to full time. Currently he still sleeps most days for anything from half an hour to 3 hours and I just can't see him managing a whole week without getting really run down.

I mentioned my concerns to the head of the foundation unit and he e-mailed the head teacher- the response I got was that they will not discuss it unless there is medical evidence. I feel quite disappointed that they wont even have a conversation about it.

Any advice r.e what I can do next?

I know I could defer him by a term or two, however ideally I want him to start with his peers.

Having worked in several schools within this council I am very surprised by the attitude of this school and wasn't expecting this response at all.

petalunicorn Mon 14-Jul-14 11:09:22

I don't know what you do about the school, but my young in the year dd was still sleeping in the day when she started school, and school facilitated napping when she needed it, and that worked quite well. The trouble is that they tend to do learning stuff in the morning so school don't want them to miss that and they do fun stuff in the afternoon which would be a shame to miss. We found a long Saturday afternoon nap really helped too. Good luck, it's hard when they 'have' to start earlier than they 'should' be.

noblegiraffe Mon 14-Jul-14 11:13:44

What have you done to try to wean him off the daytime sleep? I'd start working on that by maybe allowing him a half hour max and bringing forward bedtime.

If he starts school full time as the school want, you can keep him off on the odd day if you think he needs it until he is 5, as school isn't compulsory.

Lots of children are tired when they start school and I understand that children having naps in the book corner isn't uncommon.

EnglishRose1320 Mon 14-Jul-14 11:26:45

petalunicorn- I will ask the school about naps, He goes two whole days atm as a nursery child and they don't have a nap area but maybe it is something to look into.

Noblegiraffe- If I wake him up early, unless I literary keep jogging him up and down on my knee he will just go back to sleep. The two days he does at school he stays awake all day with his friends and then falls asleep between 3 and 4 when he gets home and you can't do anything to keep him awake- he will fall asleep eating! He isn't sleeping everyday now and the days he doesn't are when we only do very quiet things- stories/jigsaws etc but a walk into town is enough to wear him out. It's frustrating because he sleeps well at night and he is a good eater, just doesn't seem to have much energy.

He's at school today, I need to find strategies to keep him awake from 3 till at least 5, ideally 6. If he falls asleep after school he will wake around 8/9 ish and think it is morning then, normally a warm milk and a story and he will go back to bed, but only if it is after DS1's bedtime, if DS1 is going to bed and I have to settle them both then they tend to wind each other up and it can take longer which obviously isn't ideal.

Noblegiraffe- I would love any suggestions with regards to weaning off daytime sleep- DS1 stopped naps at 9 months so it's not something I have had to content with before and is proving much harder than I though it would.

DeWee Mon 14-Jul-14 12:00:01

Well he sounds like he is weaning off sleeps.
If he'll sleep between 3 and 4, you may be home by not long after 3, so he can sleep then.

Dd1 (Winter baby) still slept up until she went to school. She then didn't. So much was going on, she didn't need to. The last week before the first half term, she got home, ate tea and was in bed by 4:00, needing to be woken 8am the next day. After that she was fine, and didn't have any problems.

At our infant school, if a child is very tired, they have a space next to the office that they can be quiet in. I've turned up on several times to see a child asleep there. If they know a child really isn't coping because they're too tired, they will phone home as well.

EnglishRose1320 Mon 14-Jul-14 12:03:44

DeWee- normally he sleeps between 12-2, he only sleeps between 3 and 4 when he has been at school and then wakes up in the evening, however if he doesn't have a sleep at all he refuses to go down at bedtime, he seems over tired and really tearful and the bedtime routine is horrible on nights when he hasn't either had a sleep after lunch or at least had a really quiet afternoon.

Hooliesmoolies Mon 14-Jul-14 13:43:40

Can't offer much help except to say that your child doesn't actually HAVE to be in school every day. At my DD's school, there were a couple of parents who just took their children out of school some days, or they did half days others. The school didn't promote it, but they didn't mind because it didn't impact on their attendance figures (as far as I understand). So you could always just stagger the start yourself? Say, two days in, one day at home, and two more days in?

Ferguson Mon 14-Jul-14 13:58:39

It's still a few months away, so he will be that much older. And if he is coping with nursery all right, he will probably manage school.

I've seen much older children doze off in class, but probably because parents don't control bedtime, or because the lesson was VERY boring!

Damnautocorrect Mon 14-Jul-14 14:05:14

Mine struggled with sleep, he would end up having a sleep at school (they didn't have a nap space he'd just find a corner). He would also come home and be asleep by 4. Some days he'd wake about 9, others he'd sleep through.
We just rode it out. It took until Easter but he's got used to it.

prh47bridge Mon 14-Jul-14 16:20:08

If you are in England this is your choice, not the school's. You can defer entry until January or Easter and they have to keep the place open. You can request that he attends part time until he reaches compulsory school age. As others have said, your son will probably cope. But the head is completely wrong.

EnglishRose1320 Mon 14-Jul-14 17:16:12

Unfortunately prh47bridge it's my choice which term he starts but not whether he goes full time or part time- I have the right to enquire but it is the head teachers choice.

Damnautocorrect- I can see us having to ride it out but I really don't want that for his sake, he has been doing the 2 whole days since September and he isn't getting better at pick up, in fact you can see the progression from the start of term onwards each half term, just after a break we have a week or two when its okay-ish and then he gets worse and worse.

Ferguson- hopefully your right, hopefully he will manage to drop/reduce naps over the summer and be ready.

Hooliesmoolies- I wondered whether it affected attendance or not, realistically if he gets as run down as he has in the past then we will have to keep him at home now and again.

On the plus side I have spoken to our G.P and he says he thinks the need for medical evidence is odd and that as a parent I know when my child is ready for school but if the head teacher isn't willing to talk to me about it he is happy to have a phone with her to back up my views.

Thanks for all the replies

Sorry this is a bit long

prh47bridge Mon 14-Jul-14 17:28:32

I have the right to enquire but it is the head teachers choice

That is not the DfE's view. They believe it is your choice, not the school's.

The wording in the Admissions Code is identical for both. Paragraph 2.16 states:

The authority must make it clear in their arrangements that:

a) parents can request that the date their child is admitted to school is deferred until later in the academic year or until the term in which the child reaches compulsory school age, and

b) parents can request that their child takes up the place part-time until the child reaches compulsory school age.

I agree the wording is poor and pointed this out to the DfE. They responded with a statement to the effect that the school must comply with the parent's request - I'm afraid the email is on my home PC so I can't give the precise wording at the moment.

SixImpossible Mon 14-Jul-14 17:29:46

Is there any reason why you cannot just collect him at 1 o'clock every day for the first half term, then every other day until Xmas?

BTW I completely sympathise. My ds was 6m older then yours when he started school, and still napping 1-2h every day. We tried cutting down during the summer before he started, and he just about coped napping every 4/5 days out of 7. When school started we brought his bedtime forward to 6ish and he had 2h naps on Sat and Sun, as well as napping during holidays. He finally dropped all naps towards the end of Y1.

'Training' a child to stop napping annoys me. If a child needs to sleep then they need to sleep! I can remember napping at school in YR. It was a normal part of the day.

Damnautocorrect Mon 14-Jul-14 17:30:09

Oh yes you can tell when it's Thursday/Friday and the end of term (he's asleep now!!!).
It's hard, you lose your bubbly happy child to a tired grumpy one most of the time.
We had other issues that meant deferring could have made them a whole lot worse. It's very difficult to know what to do for the best. I think we made the best one for him although I wouldn't have said that in October!
By deferring you would miss the gradual lead in to the way the school teach and routine. So not only will he have to get used to the new long day he has to jump feet first with catch up too. If the school did a second intake they'd obviously account for that in the classes.

Can you defer after giving it a go?

EnglishRose1320 Mon 14-Jul-14 17:44:44

prh47bridge- yes the wording is very vague isn't it- when I spoke to our local admissions team they said they would support a deferred start but that part time was the head teachers choice- I'm hoping just chatting to the head will solve this and I won't have to go down a long process involving legal info- I really don't want the school to hate me! however if needs must I will look into it further and use things to back up my position.

SixImpossible- I would happily do that and I really can't see the problem, it is a nursery and foundation class combined so lots of the younger ones go home at lunch time anyway- wont disturb the other children and he's get the important learning in the morning. His bedtime is already 6/6:30 as it is- don't think we can make it much earlier!

DamnAutoCorrect- I really don't want to defer unless I really have to, socially he is doing so well so I want him to start when all his peers do and as you say get use to the routine.

I haven't asked for massively reduced hours, I asked that he continues with the 2 days he does and then just mornings for the rest of the week, adding an afternoon per half term if he is coping- quicker/slower depending on progress, I have also said that whilst that is the ideal for him, if they wanted something similar- still part time but suited them more (forest school is on a Friday- if they think he needs to go etc) then of course I would be open to that but as it stands unless he has a significant medical need he has to do full time.

SixImpossible Mon 14-Jul-14 19:25:54

My understanding is that, as he does not have to be in school at all until the term after he turns five, you have complete freedom to take him out of school early. In fact, when dc3 started school (currently Y2, but started YR in the first whole year intake after the staggered start was abolished) the head emphasised this to us. She even told us that if we fancied taking them swimming, for example, then to go ahead. Just please to let the school know if they were not going to be in that day, or if we were going to take them out of school early.

Your school may, perhaps, feel that it would be an administrative hassle to have children coming and going at different times, so they are trying put you off. But you may find, when he starts, that the Foundation Stage teachers themselves are totally chilled about it.

nonicknameseemsavailable Mon 14-Jul-14 19:37:44

not sure what you can do about the school - my 2 both dropped all naps at 15 months so I had the opposite problem as neither liked sleeping!

I would suggest though that you change his whole routine over the summer in preparation for September. SO get him up in the morning at 7 or whatever time you will need to (I know - a pain when it is the holidays but it is important) and do anything and everything to keep him awake during the day and put him to bed at dinner time. It sounds like he is a bit mixed up at the moment which happens when they drop naps and waking up in the evening if he has slept is going to confuse him more.

That is just how I personally would try and tackle it but as I say I had the opposite problem so am not speaking from experience.

My 2 are a September birthday and an April birthday and both they and their friends seemed to get used to the school day very quickly. Some of their friends however would literally go home after school, have some tea and then go to bed at 5:30ish and sleep through until morning.

QuiteQuietly Mon 14-Jul-14 19:45:21

DS napped most afternoons until Christmas in Yr1. He did just mornings until October half term, but then had to do full days because he is autumn-born. School were not exactly chuffed with the sleeping, but there as little they or I could do about it - it took one person's full attention to keep him awake, and he would be miserable and they just don't have the staff to deal with it. So, they just grudgingly let him sleep but they did make us sit through an incredibly patronising lecture from the school nurse about suitable bedtimes and diet, after which we went to the GP to have some blood tests done to shut them up. He was in bed at 6pm and slept like a log until 8am. He still naps ocassionally now, as do I and DD2 - it is just plain civilised! I wish I had pushed harder for part-time hours though - I think the napping went on for longer as a result of the stressful school environment. Perhaps a calmer home afternoon would have knocked the napping on the head earlier.

I don't think your part time plan sounds unreasonable, and surely it would be easier for them to be a man down a few afternoons a week than to deal with a sleeping or exceedingly tired child? You could even suggest collecting him after registration?

weebarra Mon 14-Jul-14 19:51:38

I'm in Scotland so my August born DS2 is starting in 2015 - if he were English he'd be starting this year. He still has a 3 hour nap most afternoons, but he has a heart condition so gets tired. The depute head has already mentioned a part time start for him. Good luck!

GoogleyEyes Mon 14-Jul-14 19:55:33

In her first term in YR, dd1 (who had napped almost every day throughout the summer holidays, and had always had quiet time even if she didn't nap) came home from school and took herself straight to bed. Her choice! I told her I would wake her up for tea, and she could go back to bed straight after if she wanted. She wasn't very happy to be woken at 5.00, but would eat tea, watch a bit of TV, have a bath and go back to bed until morning. Plus naps at the weekend.

By half term she didn't need to nap after school any more, and by Xmas she wasn't consistently napping at the weekends, so she built up her stamina fairly fast.

EnglishRose1320 Mon 14-Jul-14 20:04:14

nonickname- he gets up around 7 and goes to bed at 6/6:30 I don't think I can change that routine much- it's only when he has a late nap (past 3) or doesn't have a nap that bedtime is a problem, on the days he sleeps at lunchtime bedtime is a lovely time for unwinding and stories. Today he was at the foundation unit for the day (he goes every mon and tue) and this evening bedtime was horrible, he fought everything, pj's, teeth brushing etc and feel asleep crying- luckily not too late, about half 6.

Part of me feels I should train him to stay awake because that seems the done thing but it is going against what he needs and makes him unhappy.

My DS1 gave up naps between 9months and a year so this is new to me, like you I was more use to trying to get him to sleep!

SixImpossible- because he is already a nursery child in the foundation unit I have met the teachers and I think they would be totally fine about it but they are not allowed to make the choice.

QuiteQuietly- sounds like our DS are quite similar, DS had blood tests about a year ago and saw a paediatrician several times, basically he eats well and meets his development targets so they are not worried medically and quite rightly said some children need more sleep than others.

WeeBarra- glad to hear your son will get to start when he is ready, the Foundation Unit leader chatted to me today and was being quite ambiguous but I think it sounded more positive than not so will just have to wait and see.

EnglishRose1320 Mon 14-Jul-14 20:06:52

Googleyeyes- that's good to hear, I am really hoping that will be the case with DS and we can build up to full time quite quickly.

However he is one of those children that is prone to every bug going and seems to sleep for England after he is ill- he ended up in hospital when he had chickenpox and for the 6 months after that would sleep 12-14 hours at night and have 2 long daytime naps.

I'm sure he will grow out of it and thrive in school, I just worry too much I guess.

nonicknameseemsavailable Mon 14-Jul-14 20:19:36

ah ok - if he is already sleeping those hours then I am not sure what to suggest.

NickiFury Mon 14-Jul-14 20:28:43

Personally if my child was still napping in the day and was below the legal age to be in school then then wouldn't be going and that's that.

Dd went to one half term of nursery and that was enough to prepare her for reception. If she'd still been napping and I didn't feel it was the right thing she wouldn't even have done that half term.

SixImpossible Mon 14-Jul-14 20:37:44

It's good that you already have a relationship with the FA teachers and that they know your ds. I think that their ambiguity suggest that thry know and understand what youe ds needs, but have to present a school-policy front. I would just quietly go ahead and collect him when you think he needs to be collected. Nothing formalised. If the HT kicks up a stink about it, then hopefully your GP will support you with 'medical need'.

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