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.

yellowsun Sat 26-Jan-13 09:39:50

Can you get her some preschool hours prior to September to ease the transition for both of you?

solidfoundation Sat 26-Jan-13 09:47:10

My nephews and niece really love infant school and hate it when there's a holiday. You DC will too, but don't expect them to come home full of it as they will be very tired initially and not want to discuss it. If you show a positive attitude towards it, they will too.

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 10:07:43

"over-testing of children throughout school career,"

Do you mean high school as well? If your children never get used to any kind of testing how will they cope with GCSEs, A levels and university degrees, especially as the exam system is going to change back to the style of exams I used to sit in the 1970s?

The KS2 SATS were very low key at DD's primary school. I admit that year 6 turned into a bit of a SATS factory for 5 months. At high school DD gets lots of tests and milestones and I think that the SATS preparation has helped. I don't agree with SATS testing BTW.

Teacherwith2kids has some sensible advice, and I get the impression that you are wanting to home educate for your own benefit rather than your daughter's. The person I know who tried "home educating" took her daughter out of school simply because she didn't like getting out of bed early every morning. School isn't just a place of learning though. Children learn social skills and how to behave appropriately with other people, they learn how to make friends and how to deal with other children that maybe aren't as nice as they should be.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 10:27:27

Seeker, its nothing in particular with Reception... more that that is the start of school life. If I'm not sure about 'school life' then I should commit to HE, is my thought process.

teacher, my childminder go to a childminder 3 days a week at the moment because I work, so they are not afraid of being away from me, I don't think. Obviously it is a much smaller setting than nursery/ preschool though. Why did you decide not to continue HE-ing, out of curiosity?

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 10:30:30

Another point about home educating is that you will be with your children 24/7. How will you deal with doctors/dentist/hospital appointments? Will you not want some child free time?

seeker Sat 26-Jan-13 10:32:50

Ok- apply the same approach to school. What are your specific concerns?

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 10:36:48

Bunbaker I guess I don't know how important it is to prepare 6/7 year olds and 11 year olds for exams that they will take when they are 15/16. There is a massive amount of growing up and developing that they do before that. I think that much teaching has become 'teaching to test' and I think that is to the loss of real learning. I very much disagree about wanting to HE for my benefit. I would much rather someone else do it! I am frankly terrified of the implications for my and DH's life if we decide to HE. HE is a whole lifestyle choice instead of just a way of 'doing' education. In HE groups children also learn the things that they can learn from socialising at school - except with much more adult input.

teacher do you know if you can refuse SAT testing for your children or are they compulsory?

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 10:39:15

My DS started reception in September. I was worried about him as he has some 'interesting' behaviours at home, was a little immature for his age and really, really struggles to cope with transitions.

All I can say is that school has been wonderful for him. He has absolutely blossomed and is thriving in a way I didn't dare hope would happen. His teacher and TA are stars. And he is much easier to cope with at home too (which is a lovely bonus).

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 10:46:00

seeker specific concerns: bullying, too much time away from home (which should be the primary influence in a child's life, not an institution), things not being challenging enough, or being too challenging, bad influences, the general politics of school, not enough time to play, teach-led learning and some of the other things that I have mentioned up thread.

Bunbaker you are absolutely right and this is why I'm trying to make the decision carefully. I work part-time and will have to either find a childminder who will consider 2 days with a week with an older child and toddler, or keep them at the current childminder who is amazing, but DD will be the oldest (by 2 years - not ideal) or perhaps consider a (live-out) nanny or au-pair try to re-organise my work into the evening, which, after being with DCs all day I might not quite be up to! confused

Feenie Sat 26-Jan-13 10:52:01

mamalost, assessment in Y2 has been teacher assessment only for around 8 years now, so is the same as in any other year. It does have to include one test (along with all the other evidence with assesses the whole child), but ime Y2 children don't know they are doing them. Most schools present them as special booklets, it's all very low key, and the activities are exactly the same as their everyday work.

Can't say the same about Y6 tests, but that's a long way off. And even then, a good school will provide a broad and balanced curriculum throughout Y6 (even if the tests by then are very formal - can't be helped sad).

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 10:55:05

Weird question - but how much are people's children interested in still 'learning' things outside of school hours? I would want to introduce my DCs to lots of other things that they might not learn about in school... will they still be interested or tired of 'learning' by the end of the week?

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 11:00:20

I don't think children compartmentalise life into 'learning' and 'not learning' - for them every experience is a chance to learn something new. So you can carry on providing your child with new experiences outside of school hours and they will learn from those experiences. IME children don't get tired of learning - why would they when it is all so exciting?

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 11:03:05

"I guess I don't know how important it is to prepare 6/7 year olds and 11 year olds for exams that they will take when they are 15/16. There is a massive amount of growing up and developing that they do before that. I think that much teaching has become 'teaching to test' and I think that is to the loss of real learning."

Those are valid points. In my experience. The children only get "taught to test" in year 6, they don't for the KS2 SATS which are very low key. However, they do get tested all the time at high school. My point was more about what happens at high school not primary.

Feenie Sat 26-Jan-13 11:09:15

Think you mean Y2 SATs, Bunbaker - which are teacher asssessment now anyway. smile

In many schools, children aren't taught to the test even in Y6.

seeker Sat 26-Jan-13 11:10:26

Well, they are still at home far more than they are at school- so home influence still is the most important one, particularly in the early years. Teacher led learning is also not a particular feature of early years- and isn't necessarily a bad thing anyway. Bullying happens, but can happen anywhere, and it's important to remember that you get a skewed view of this on a forum like this- most people don't post if they haven't got a problem. And it's often a reason for HE- so once again, a disproportionate view there. Not sure about the challenging/not challenging enough- but that's something you can address with the teacher if it arises.

And please don't worry about year 2 SATs- that's ages away. And they are incredibly low key.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 26-Jan-13 11:14:28

I love the fact that my kids are learning from specialists in school and also from all the other kids there. The things they come back talking about amazes me.

I also love the fact that we can compliment this with trips to places that tie in with their learning and also expand the things that interest them at home.

There isn't a separation between learning at home and at school. if your dd goes to school she will get the best of all of her experiences. It's neither one or the other but a blending of all.

I don't see school as a failure, I see it as essential, personally.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 11:22:05

Bunbaker - yes, I would want DCs to do GCSEs and A levels so some testing experience is not necessarily bad, but from the 15 year olds I know, I don't like the amount of work that goes into the exam and not just learning IFSWIM.

Hmm, thanks for your thoughts and experience everyone - it is very helpful.

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 11:22:52

"Think you mean Y2 SATs, Bunbaker - which are teacher asssessment now anyway."

Yes, that's what I meant smile

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 11:24:58

Unfortunately it is the system. 15 year olds need to learn to pass an exam unless they just want to stack shelves in Asda for a living. We were taught specifically "to the exam" back in the 1970s, nothing has changed there.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 11:27:52

I guess that's why I'm thinking about HE - because we have to accept certain things because 'its the system'. I'm just wondering how far I want to accept 'the system'.

seeker Sat 26-Jan-13 11:30:29

So which bits of "the system" don't you want to accept?

I'm sorry if I seem to be harassing you but I do think you need to be clear about what you don' like- and be sure it actually happens grin before you make any decisions.

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 11:32:14

"I'm just wondering how far I want to accept 'the system'."

I don't think it is a great idea to opt out of the exam system for 15 year olds. without GCSEs or similar their career prospects are very limited.
Primary education is a different matter though.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 11:34:19

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

"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."

Don't forget that people who HE often feel criticised by people around them so they are the ones who feel they need to argue their case and explain how amazing it is. When you do the same as your parents did before you and as your friend down the road, you don't usually feel the need to justify your decision, however good you feel about it.

"also the herd-mentality of a group of children without many adults involved,"

don't underestimate the herd mentality of a child who spends most of his/her time in a closed family unit without different influences

one reason I am happy that dd goes to school is that I realise how uncritically I admired my own (lovely) parents and everything they did or stood for- and how difficult that made it for me to develop opinions of my own as a young adult

I realise that dd and I could easily develop the kind of relationship where she takes all my opinions on board without realising that they are not necessarily the only option

it does her good to see that there are other families out there and other professional adults who have totally different ideas and totally different priorities

"Weird question - but how much are people's children interested in still 'learning' things outside of school hours? I would want to introduce my DCs to lots of other things that they might not learn about in school... will they still be interested or tired of 'learning' by the end of the week? "

As long as you don't teach them to see learning as an unnatural scheduled activity that takes place at certain times- then definitely. Even if you send your child to school, that is still a small part out of their week, and there will be masses of time for walks in the park, trips to the woods, museums and libraries, theatres and concerts, holidays abroad if you can afford them, DVDS that you can talk about. Most junior/secondary school children I know do leisure activities outside of school, and as they get up to secondary school they do a lot of informal learning by simply going out with their mates.

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 11:35:21

There are knock on effects to opting out of exams at 15/16 yo. Will your DD also be opting out of Further Education? At what stage would you envisage her opting back into the system in order to be able to find a job? So many jobs require qualifications of various sorts.

All four of mine are having a great time at school. At the end of the holidays they are always pleased to be going back. School can be a really positive experience.

And the four include one who has Aspergers/giftedness and another who had developmental delay. Their school treats them as individuals and they are given the level of work that's right for them.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 11:39:40

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 11:27:52
"I guess that's why I'm thinking about HE - because we have to accept certain things because 'its the system'. I'm just wondering how far I want to accept 'the system'. "

In the end it won't just be about what you want to accept: it will about what your dd wants out of life. They grow up quicker than you think.

So whichever choices you make, you need to make sure that they are flexible and can be stretched to include a change of plan on her part.

My HE'dding friend has had to accept that one of her sons decided he wanted to attend secondary school. So off he went. The other son potentially wants to go to university, so is sitting exams through the HE system.

On the other hand, I have had to accept that my highly academic daughter wants to concentrate on vocational subjects at college (though still leaving the path open to university), which is not the kind of future I would have mapped out if you'd left it up to my dreams or ideas (though am now very excited about dd's choices).

I think you can achieve the goal of keeping options open either way. But you do need to listen to your children as they grow up.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 11:41:38

Bunbaker and seeker - I would deffo want DCs to do secondary school exams - but I guess the things that I have already mentioned are 'the system' in some ways... both good things and bad things. I'm not sure if I can be more specific than that.

cory well, no problem with DD having herd-mentality of our family - we're definitely always right. wink Yes, those are valid points - perhaps I'm worried about negative influences though? We don't exactly live in leafy, beautiful middle-class suburbia...

MrsDeVere Sat 26-Jan-13 11:43:14

I understand you to a certain extent.
I hated school.
But my 4th of 5th is now in reception and he, like all the others, love school.

I make sure not to project my feelings about 'the system' onto my kids. They have a long time at school, I want them to enjoy it.

I live in inner city london too. It never crossed my mind to check out the ethnicity of the pupils at my chosen school. From the playground I can tell it is very mixed, but then so are my DCs.
I just wanted one close to home and had a decent pastoral care write up in the ofsted.

To answer one of the OP's questions, they were tired to start with in Reception, but now they are all enthusiastic about doing extra activities after school. For example, in school time DD does choir, gymnastics club and flute lessons. Out of school time she does a dance class, orchestra/song-writing and Brownies. She is 8.

MrsDeVere Sat 26-Jan-13 11:44:05

I just read your last post.

I am losing sympathy.

Keep your kids at home. Much safer. That way they won't have to mix with the likes of mine hmm

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 11:48:31

OP - you sound a lot like me! I feel very similar, but do not talk openly. People like to believe in school, so any suggestion of HE is not popular. Have you talked to anyone doing HE?

Don't forget that you do not have to do as many hours as they do in school, as much less time is wasted, you count all hours learning, so what you do in evenings or weekends counts, and an activity like e.g. Gardening is learning, in a school they will 'learn about' gardening but not learn any more than a child will learn through doing.

But I understand the fear, I really do.

Feenie Sat 26-Jan-13 11:52:08

and an activity like e.g. Gardening is learning, in a school they will 'learn about' gardening but not learn any more than a child will learn through doing

But in most schools they would be gardening - they would learn through planting something. Many schools also have plots on site, or an allotment. At the very least they would grow a bean plant in a pot!

BooksandaCuppa Sat 26-Jan-13 11:55:07

OP, it's really important to be clear, as others have said, about which of your fears and unfounded and which are more grounded, eg. Yr 2 sats are quite generally nothing to be concerned about. Lining up to go into class is just health and safety common sense as well as good manners. Most of reception and now lots of yr 1is very play based and child-led.

Others of your concerns (children's behaviour/your child not being challenged) might be more valid but, again, are all based on worst-case scenarios.

I speak as someone who would have home educated at the drop of a hat for my August born, AS son, but I decided to work out what my worst fears about schooling were and address just those. For me, they were- staff not fully understanding his specific needs and the unnatural (as I see it) separation of children into narrow age bands based on their birthdays.

So I actively sought out a very small school for him where all the staff knew all the children intimately and where reception children played with year 6s and everyone in between. Of course there were a few niggles over the years; that's life. Nowhere and nothing is perfect. But on the whole he and we couldn't have been happier.

We decided we wanted the same intimate setting and care for secondary. For that, we've had to pay because, frankly, small secondaries tend to be small because no one wants to go there. Again, best decision we ever made.

You have to let your daughter start school with a positive attitude which I'm sure you will, and try not to be watching for the first time you think they've let you or her down - but keep your options open.

I'm sure she'll have a great time!

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 11:55:31

"cory well, no problem with DD having herd-mentality of our family - we're definitely always right. Yes, those are valid points - perhaps I'm worried about negative influences though? We don't exactly live in leafy, beautiful middle-class suburbia... "

This is precisely what I would see as a positive influence: dc having a good look at the values of other families so that if they decide to adopt mine it will be because they have come to a conscious decision that they are good values.

It is true that I am writing from the perspective of having older children (12 and 16) so very aware of the necessity for their values to be their own if they are to have any lasting value.

One problem for me with growing up in a very strong and somewhat inward looking family was that for a long time I had difficulty in telling the difference between values and preferences: I rather felt our predilection for the opera rather than the latest pop music was a moral value on the same lines as our honesty and hard work ethic. There is no doubt that this tribal attitude did get in the way of my moral development. I am glad that dc are more open and can accept that people have different customs without being better or worse.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 11:58:05

Or to put it another way: if you want to keep sheltering your children from outside influences, how long are you prepared to keep them sheltered? Until their teens? Until they go to uni? And what will happen when they are suddenly thrown into the outside world?

LeeCoakley Sat 26-Jan-13 11:58:17

I've never seen pointless lining up. Can you give me an example?

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 12:01:30

Is lining up to go into class safely any more pointless than queuing in the shops or at the post office?

BooksandaCuppa Sat 26-Jan-13 12:04:45

What Cory said.

Values and preferences are something I sometimes struggle to separate but I do want my son to have different interests and opinions from me. I guess if you don't, then, no, don't send them out into the world at all.

See, the thing is, (and I know you've said you want them to take external exams at 16 etc) but there are many things about the exam system I disagree with (some Gove might improve, some he might make worse) but they're hoops you have to jump through to have half a chance of doing something you want to do for the rest of your life. Almost probably, anyway.

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 12:07:48

What BooksandaCuppa and cory said.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:07:58

Yes, in a school they will plant something, but it is token, due to class size etc. the vast majority of learning in a school is still done inside a classroom, sitting down, listening to a teacher, then doing independent or group work based on what the teacher has told you. the teacher has learning objectives, usually fairly narrow in scope, and the success of the lesson is determined by the kids 'learning' what the teacher determines they should learn, whether that be a skill, a fact, a method, whatever. If you just do gardening, you learn all the skills, facts, methods eventually but the primary focus is the doing.

jojane Sat 26-Jan-13 12:08:21

I feel that school can provide certain things that you wouldn't be able to do at home - playing team games, taking part in school play etc, they get to interact with people from different cultures/religions/different lifestyles to them, learn to share, deal with routine and rules that thy will find in the workplace,
My DS1 is in yr1 and the school have been brilliant in helping with is toilet training issues, suspected aspergers, advanced reading ability, lack of social skills etc etc, they helped push through referrals and got assessments done etc, he is a totally different little joy from wen e started school 18 months ago, he's doing really well. Dd started reception in September and she loves it, all Xmas holidays she kept asking if she could go back to school, yes there's the occasional friendship squabble but there always will be in life,
My DH always suggested the idea of HE so it is something we considered but as a family we do a lot of trips and teach our kids things as they come up so feel we can fill in the gaps of anything not taught at school. In Wales reception is very much teach through play and child led, they have a few sessions where they have to sit and so writing for example but maths is games on the yard, they get to choose what they want to do and are free to roam from the classroom to the outside patio o the creative area etc with member of staff in all the areas (about 5 TAs and a teacher in reception)

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:11:28

It is an unfair accusation to make to suggest people who wish to educate their children at home do not wish to send their children out into the world or would not be happy for their children t hold different views from them. That is a very cheap shot.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 12:12:28

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:07:58
"Yes, in a school they will plant something, but it is token, due to class size etc."

I don't think so. Both dc's infants and junior schools had gardens for the children to work in, as well as regularly planting things in pots.

The Reception class room had a cave/playhouse set up that could become the house of Goldilocks and the Three Bears or a doctor's surgery or anything else required. There were also wet play facilities and a wonderful array of playground toys- and in Reception most of the activities are child led anyway.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:16:13

I agree with 'dealing with routine' - undoubtedly school prepares one to be office fodder better than any other system.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 12:18:08

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:11:28
2It is an unfair accusation to make to suggest people who wish to educate their children at home do not wish to send their children out into the world or would not be happy for their children t hold different views from them. That is a very cheap shot2

I never said that HE'ers in general do not wish this. My friend who HE's is certainly not like that and I don't think most HE'ers are.

I went entirely on the posts of the OP where she says she wants to keep her children away from other influences, mentions the fact that her home area is not a leafy suburb as a reason, worries about other children being nasty and about bad influences and specifically talks about values.

I never said this is an attitude all HE'ers share.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:18:22

They may well have gardens, but do the maths - 30 kids in a class, 25 hours of teaching time. How much real time is there for each child to really engage?

I was a teacher, I know how little can be achieved in a week!

Parenting doesn't stop when they go to school, you can develop your child's curiosity, teach them all sorts and let them lead the learning in a zillion ways at home, before or after school or weekends and holidays.

Don't let your fear of the school system rub off on them. I did find letting go of DS1 to school upsetting personally - not least as he was a "young one", but also as I remembered what my own school experience was like but I really had to swallow this and allow DS to have his OWN experience - now in Year 1 it is a positive experience, the only thing he definitely doesn't like is having to get up in the morning. OK maybe that one has rubbed off from me.

When kids go to school the baby bubble is well and truly burst isn't it? It's like life begins in earnest for our children. Much as we'd love to carry them through every situation they're clever small things and can navigate many of these situations themselves if we let them, and find excitement and joy in the process. If it's a disaster then you sound like you'll be more than geared up to look at alternatives.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 12:28:56

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:18:22
"They may well have gardens, but do the maths - 30 kids in a class, 25 hours of teaching time. How much real time is there for each child to really engage?

I was a teacher, I know how little can be achieved in a week! "

This is on the assumption that a child needs 1:1 adult attention to engage in something and that a child who is planting a plant with the 1/25 attention of the teacher but (but together with a friend) cannot possibly find it as enriching an experience as a child who does the same activity with the full attention of an adult. Coming from a large-ish family myself, I don't think it works like that.

When dd or ds came home all excited from school, it was just as often about how they had done all these wonderful things with their friends.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 12:31:01

The teacher's input was necessary to provide guidance, explanations and some monitoring of behaviour, but the exciting bit was the bit that I and Jamie did, Mummy.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 12:35:34

Personally, I think HE can be a brilliant thing if you do it because you have a lot to offer and can provide plenty of outside stimulus and contacts- as many HE'ers can. It has worked brilliantly for my friend- and I'm not sure I wouldn't want to be HE'ed by her myself grin

But to do it because you want to keep your child kept in the family cocoon and protected from knowing that other families are different (of which there was more than a hint in the OPs posts) seems a less positive path to go down.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:45:34

It has been proven the biggest single factor influencing learning outcomes is class sizes, they do not cover the ground in a class that they do in small groups.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 26-Jan-13 12:50:44

I was a teacher, I know how little can be achieved in a week!

With due respect, it's a poor teacher who achieves little in a week and my DC's have had a much more positive experience than you express in your time as a teacher.

You talk about cheap shots but personally I find this comment and your comment about 'office fodder' very cheap too.

Shall we stick to trying to help the op?

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:52:25

I have to say for me personally, the best thing about school was the time I spent with friends and I would expect most kids to say the same. Because that is what school has going for it - there are loads of kids to entertain you in the massive boring bits between the tiny pieces of learning.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:56:27

I did not achieve comparatively little, I was not doing worse than others, but if you cut a class to six you get more done. This is one of the key reasons why private education outstrips state.

marriedinwhite Sat 26-Jan-13 12:59:52

We live in zone 2 OP - not quite inner City. Our DC went to the local church school. They have very fond memories of it. The tests weren't in their faces at all; the teachers were, on the whole lovely, and usually the dc had a brilliant day. Of course, sometimes they had a bad day; but not usually over much and I have bad days too sometimes.

Of course there was a bit of roughty toughty stuff in the playground but that's normal and easily avoided. FWIW I have the shyest, gentlest, most sensitive dd you could imagine - she was fine.

Give it a go; go with the flow and if you feel a bit insecure then offer to help - schools love help - and see how lovely it is for yourself and for reassurance.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 13:05:39

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:52:25
"I have to say for me personally, the best thing about school was the time I spent with friends and I would expect most kids to say the same. Because that is what school has going for it - there are loads of kids to entertain you in the massive boring bits between the tiny pieces of learning. "

This is not to say that every child will have the same experience.

Dd did not find school massively boring; she enjoyed the work she did in groups with her friends as well as the work done more closely with the teacher or TA. Enjoying working with your friends doesn't necessarily mean you don't enjoy the work itself.

I could feel her horizons expanding week by week; she would come home and talk excitedly about new things that we had never thought about at home.

BooksandaCuppa Sat 26-Jan-13 13:23:35

Not for me, StripiestSocks - I loved school for all the learning and not the social side at all - that I got from my various hobbies etc (see why my personal gripe with the school system is the weird grouping of children based on their dates of birth) - and I would consider myself an intelligent 'needs challenging' person (straight As in every exam I've taken; 1st class degree from a good Uni; always reading and finding out new things as an adult, kind of thing) but I loved school.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 13:36:50

I didn't feel I really started learning until I went up to 6th form college, if my kids felt as you describe your learning experience I would be content. That sounds very rewarding.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 13:57:06

My daughter has severe chronic pain which means attending school is very difficult for her; she also has bad anxiety issues. Throughout the years of her treatment she has been adamant that she does not want to be home schooled but wants help to get back to school because that is the learning environment she wants. Every time she sees a doctor or counsellor on her own (without my input) she tells them that that is what she wants support with.

This is not because HE is frowned on in our circles: two of her best friends are or have been HE'd. It is not because I have a negative attitude to HE either. It is simply because dd feels school suits her. I don't think she is necessarily going to be "office fodder"; she dreams of acting and will probably end up doing something fairly unconventional. But she feels school is facilitating that, not least because she meets so many different people there, whereas the HE parents around here do tend to be fairly similar in class and general outlook.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 14:10:42

StripiestSocks I think we're on the same wavelength.

Not being funny, but why is it seen as such a bad thing to try to protect our children from negative experiences and influences?! At 4 years old, children do not have all the information they need to make moral judgements, they don't yet know fully right from wrong and they could easily be misled. I am certainly not against my children mixing with a wide range of children from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, etc etc (I specifically chose to live where we do in London because I didn't want a 'suburban' upbringing for them) but there is a massive difference between this taking place in school largely unsupervised by adults and taking place in groups and other things with other HE-ers. HE-ers are all different and HE for different reasons... many of the things that you are saying can only be experienced at school are also experienced by HE children.

I certainly don't want to unduly 'protect' my children, but at the moment, they are young, I don't see why this is seen as a negative thing. Of course I'm not saying I will keep my DD at 15 under lock and key (as much as I would like to) but there is a huge difference between a 4 yo and a teenager. Different rules apply to different ages.

mrz Sat 26-Jan-13 14:17:36

I honestly think you have made your mind up and no matter what people say you are only going to listen to those views that match your own.
Unfortunately I'm not sure if you will ever believe that your daughter can be happy in a school even this proves to be the case. good luck

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 14:21:22

I agree mrz

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 14:21:40

I think that in some ways school vary so much that we're not comparing like with like. There are so many variables. Some of the things that you are describing sound amazing and are definitely not options at the schools in our catchment area!

Also a note on ethnic mix - I want my DCs to go to school with lots of different children, but in my area in many of the local schools, except church schools, my DCs would be the only children (white other) not from mostly one other country or religion! That does not reflect society or 'real life' in the UK. I don't think that I'm weird to want there to be a mixture of children in their school. HE might be a way that they meet a bigger mix of children than school if they don't get into the church school.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 14:24:23

I personally wouldn't be at all worried about my children mixing with almost any other children in a school environment, other than normal concerns about children who handle anger violently of course, or bullying.

My issues are more to do with school not being the best use of their time I think, in terms of stimulation and education.

You do sound a little fearful of your child mixing with other children - what precisely are you worried will happen?

I would say the mixing with lots of children is the one thing I think school is good for - it is possible to mix widely when HE but it takes a lot of input.

I think the negative aspects of mixing with other children come later, I can understand switching to HE when a teen is clearly making bad social choices at school but in infants I think there is little Negative impact from peers, except in cases of bullying or social isolation.

seeker Sat 26-Jan-13 14:24:50

Please let's not let this descend into a snipy he/school thread. We've had too many of those in the past.

There are good things and bad things about both, but the use of terms llike "office fodder" and "over protective" don't help.

TheSecondComing Sat 26-Jan-13 14:24:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 14:28:07

I'm sorry that you feel like that Mrz and Bunbaker because I have thanked people various times for sharing their views. I guess I can only put them together with my views and reading and see what we think is best in the end.

I guess its important for us all to believe that we're doing the best things for our families and children, and even if we disagree on the 'how'.

Thanks again for the thoughts, experiences and advice. I really will take them all on as we make the decision in the next few months.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 14:28:11

Hmm, I am not sure I understand what you mean by 'my children would be the only one's not from mostly one other country or religion'. That sounds like you are making the judgment on grounds of the race/religion of the pupils?

If that is the case, I can say we are not on the same wavelength!

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 26-Jan-13 14:30:44

Do agree with Mrz.

I think the worst possible outcome is for a child to attend school where the parents do not trust or support what is being done there.

School works best where there is a committed home/school relationship.

So I think you should home educate too.

seeker Sat 26-Jan-13 14:31:03

Oh, lord. Please tell me you're not trying to avoid a ... non- white school..........

TheSecondComing Sat 26-Jan-13 14:39:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 14:40:05

No, please understand me... I want there to be a MIXTURE. At many schools in my catchment, there isn't a MIXTURE: people from different and varying backgrounds. (Ie - white, African, Asian, European, whatever) My nearest school is 98% Bangladeshi background children. There is not one single white child in that whole primary school. That is what I am talking about. I am asking the question about whether that is normal and healthy when our society is a MIXTURE of people, not just people from one country or community.

So, when I say, I would like my children to learn in a MIXED school then I want there to be more than just Bengali children in their school. If you think that is bad then that is fine, I just don't think that that is normal. (Unless, of course, we lived in Bangladesh)

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 14:45:43

Ok, I am not sure any of my thoughts on learning outcomes at home vs school are of any relevance to you, because you are actually worried about the pupils rather than the school. I don't really know what to say but I repeat I am not on your wavelength at all.

So you wouldn't like your DD to go to a school where 98% of the pupils were from White British families? Not much of a Mixture there, either.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 26-Jan-13 14:55:25

I do agree with you stripiestsocks!!

Personally I think you are worrying far too much about 'negative experiences and influences'. Took you to mean bullying and bad behaviour know I am not so sure which has not been my DCs experience of reception and KS1 at all.

personally I think school is an environment that helps to educate children in ways to deal with these in a controlled and nurturing environment. So that when they are teens and adults they are prepared for the realities of society.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 14:57:10

Stripiest I am hugely concerned about how children learn, but someone else was pulling me up on the mix issue, so I was specifically addressing that issue because it was not a fair accusation.

I think that free-range and child-led learning is where my HE thoughts started, but as I am not feeling confident I also put in school application forms... but I don't have any experience of primary school here so I can on here to raise some of my concerns with school, one of which (and its only one) is the lack of mix of children from different backgrounds in some local schools to me. I am genuinely confused as to why this is seen as a bad thing?

On the influence side I am worried about bullying, I am worried about peer pressure or children feeling like they have to change to be accepted. But actually, mostly I am worried that my children will lose their curiosity, creativity and randomness because they need to buckle down to work.

TheSecondComing Sat 26-Jan-13 14:58:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 14:59:06

Beer absolutely, I wouldn't want that either. As I said up thread, I want a mixture!

mrz Sat 26-Jan-13 15:00:30

We have a sign at our FSU door saying Beware Free Range Children ...hmm

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 15:00:46

There are children that I know who have had to give up afterschool activities (including football, art and drama) because they need to focus on school work. I would not want that. Of course I do not think that TheSecondComing!

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 15:02:13

FSU?

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 15:03:08

I would very strongly recommend that you take some time to find out exactly what it is like in a modern primary school.
Go on school visits if possible.
Once you are allocated a school place, volunteer to go in and help in a class.
You seem to be making an awful lot of assumptions about what Reception/KS1 is like, without actually having any experience to base those assumptions on.

You seem to want the Perfect School, but it just doesn't exist. There's a range from Dire to Good Enough to Pretty Good, but there is such variation in both staff and pupils as your DC grow up that trying to micromanage their school experience just isn't feasible.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 15:06:29

Thank you piprabbit, I think that you are right. I have absolutely no idea. I know from conversations with friends and from some teenagers I know who talk about school and their experiences. Do you think I should wait until a place is given or should I ask to visit before April?

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 15:10:06

I agree Beer, perhaps I thought that HE would be a way to get the best of both worlds? But I could end up with the worst of both...

I visited before choosing a school. The nearest school refused to let me visit, so that was off the list straight away.

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 15:10:35

If you didn't go on visits prior to applying, I'd be tempted to try sweet talking the headteachers into letting you visit sooner rather than later. It may help you clarify your concerns.
Personally, I'd only volunteer at school where I had a place lined up - just because the school will need to CRB check you and you would need to make a commitment to the schoo - so it may as well be one where there is a reasonable chance of you actually wanting to build a longer term relationship.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 15:10:53

I don't think you should worry about bullying Until it happens. Most children are not bullied.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 15:13:39

Do you think it would look bad if we didn't have a place confirmed somewhere and I asked to look around? How does it work? Do you ask to visit or are you invited to an open day or..?

Feenie Sat 26-Jan-13 15:15:29

Yep, just phone up and make an appointment.

No, I don't think it would look bad at all. It shows you are a parent who is engaged and interested in finding a school suitable for their child,
I phoned the schools and asked if I could go in and look around. All but one were happy to let me do so. The other one told me I had to apply and be accepted then I would be invited to an Induction evening.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 15:16:48

I have always just rung up a head directly and asked for a visit. Any school that said no would have a lot of ground to make up for me.

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 15:19:19

Most primary schools hold open days in the Autumn term so that parents can visit the school before they fill in their application forms.
Once the places are allocated, schools will often hold further open days and settling in visits during the summer term, just for the parents and children who will be joining that particular school in the following Sept.

You need to contact the schools you have put on your application form and ask them if they can possibly fit you in for a visit as your were unable to attend their open day. They will need your visit to fit in with their schedule, but most schools like to be accommodating - like Beer says, it's says a lot about the school if they are downright unhelpful.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 15:19:31

Thanks Beer and Stripiest. Monday's task then!

cumbrialass Sat 26-Jan-13 15:21:19

We're always more than happy to show anyone remotely interested around the school. All we ask is that you just don't turn up on the doorstep and demand entry-simply because the Head may well be off-site/in a meeting/teaching so an appointment is usually best ( although we have had some who were just visiting the area and popped in to ask if they could have a quick look round, the Head was busy so the Head Boy and Girl took them on an intensive 40 minute guided tour of what is actually a very small school, the visitors were shell-shocked by the endgrin

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 15:21:26

Oh and Piprabbit too! smile

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 15:21:49

"On the influence side I am worried about bullying, I am worried about peer pressure or children feeling like they have to change to be accepted"

But adults have to deal with this as well, in the workplace or otherwise

"But actually, mostly I am worried that my children will lose their curiosity, creativity and randomness because they need to buckle down to work."

I can assure you that this probably won't happen. DD is 12 and is still curious, far more creative than I am and still very random"

piprabbit is right. You really need to have a look around some primary schools now to get a feel for what actually happens in the classroom. When DD was little we looked around two local primary schools before we put the application form in. Check out what after school activities are available as well.

If your daughter is due to start in reception this September I'm surprised you have already had a look round potential schools. Isn't that what most parents do?

And if you do decide to try sending your daughter to school it might be an idea to get her into pre-school for the term before so she gets used to being with lots of other children otherwise school will be a big culture shock to her.

That school also sent me a Prospectus with insufficient postage on it so i had to trek to the sorting office and pay for it myself. Crossed them right off the list grin

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 15:25:08

I would just like to say that I really appreciate those posters who have given me advice and shared their experience. I hope that I was able to make myself understood. I am genuinely confused about what to do. I have mostly HE friends who are of course, fairly negative about school. I have no experience of primary school here... and I want my children to love learning, make friends and have a variety of experiences... wherever I get that for them, I will try. Thank you again.

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 15:29:12

Cumbria - I loved being guided round schools by the pupils. They were always terrific ambassadors for their schools, polite, confident and so proud to tell the grown-ups all about their schools. But you do get a huge amount of slightly randon information to digest grin.

Good luck mamalost. The nicest thing about visiting schools is discovering that the majority of children are just as imaginative, creative and random as your own - and rather lovely with it grin.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 15:34:08

Thank you piprabbit I am strangely excited about going around the school I've applied for. I am trying to block out my HE friends warnings about school and just see school on its merits and not what others have told me about it.

cumbrialass Sat 26-Jan-13 15:35:02

and I want my children to love learning, make friends and have a variety of experiences...

Don't worry, that's just what most teachers want too!

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 15:43:14

I think you are right to try and get a balanced picture for yourself.
Be aware that reception classes can seem very loud and chaotic the first time you walk into one. Don't let that put you off, take a few moments to acclimatise yourself.
Is the noise just loud and disruptive, or is it the lovely sound of lots of children being busy?
Ask the teacher to explain what is happening, there will usually be several activities happening at once (some of them outside). The children will choose what they want to do (within limits) and there will also be groups working more closely with the teacher and TA.
Try to just concentrate on one or two of the children and you will hopefully see that they are playing purposefully.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 15:49:39

Thanks piprabbit for the tip. smile

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 26-Jan-13 16:26:50

It really is important to come to you own opinion on this.

I think it's a great idea to go round.

I loved how safe, friendly and welcoming our school felt

BooksandaCuppa Sat 26-Jan-13 17:15:43

Am slightly bemused (and trying not to sound too critical!) that you have this many preconceptions about school without having looked round one?!! How on earth did you decide which one to apply for without looking, either?

I hope you get some reassurances when you do.

teacherwith2kids Sat 26-Jan-13 17:25:46

Fantastic idea to visit.

Also, once you have seen round and (hopefully) liked one or more of the schools that you have applied for, take your child round [I would suggest that as a first visit for most people, but given your concerns, I would suggest an 'adult only' version first for you].

The school DS went back into after a period of HE was the one where the Head put his hands down to my 6 year old and 4 year old and said 'Can I show you my school?' TO THEM, leaving me trailing in their wake. It is a large primary, but that initial impression of focusing absolutely on the child and doing things for them, not to impress the adult, was absolutely accurate.

Why don't I HE any more? Short answer is because the issue was not 'School' but 'A particular school', and a school move following a house move took away the problem - even for my deeply quirky, spiky ability profile, many ASD behaviours DS.

Longer answer related to a wish for him to access specialist teachers at secondary, as although I am very expert in some areas there are others where I did not want to deny him the experience of learning from someone with a much higher level of expertise than I can offer (and had I HEd DS through primary, the spikiness of his academic profile would have made him very difficult indeed to reintegrate into mainstream seconary - his primary head, when I deregistered him, opined that he was a child who was unlikely to be able to re-enter mainstream education.). Also, for a child who due to a level of ASD has to explicitly learn the social norms and appropriate social behaviours of e.g. conversation, working in a group, playing a game without strict 'rules', keeping him permanently away from an environment where all of those ARE appropriately modelled and taught every day [supplemented by daily work at home, of course] was only likely to intensify the difficulties.

DD, on the other hand, was born conventionally school-shaped - to have kept her away from her natural environment by HEing her would have been positively unkind!

For what it's worth, neither of my children noticed that Year 2 SATs happened (and they are observant children). DS did notice Year 6 SATs, but his school does minimal preparation (in the form of familiarisation with a couple of papers over the course of the year) and overall he seemed to see it just as a challenge along the lines of the weekly 'tiumes table challenge' rather than as any big event.

teacherwith2kids Sat 26-Jan-13 17:27:30

Try to visit some pre-school settings too - maybe your childminder might take your oldest child there for a morning or two for you? Mine used to do the whole 'drop at pre-school, pick up 2 hours later and care for the child for the rest of the day' thing when I (briefly) worked while my children were at their pre-school.

seeker Sat 26-Jan-13 17:30:32

"There are children that I know who have had to give up afterschool activities (including football, art and drama) because they need to focus on school work. I would not want that"

In^primary school?^ they must have incredibly stupid parents!

seeker Sat 26-Jan-13 17:33:15

Sorry- just noticed that you haven't visited any schools. How very odd. My children are far too important to me to send them into an environment I haven't visited.

teacherwith2kids Sat 26-Jan-13 17:45:25

On the after school activities point, DD has danced (starting off at 1 hour a week, up to 7h 45 mins now) throughout primary school. She has also been a Rainbow and a Cub, plays a musical instrument and learned to swim. DS has gone right through the Scouting movement - Beavers, Cubs, Scouts - plays an instrument (including in band / orchestra), played football with the local professional team's centre of excellence as well as with his boys' team, also at various times played cricket and rugby as well as swimming. he's added to those since starting secondary, of course, but that is many years away for yours.

Basically, my children have always done lots outside school, both in terms of 'formal' activities listed above and also the informal park / trampolining / voracious reading / tearing around on bikes / baking etc etc type stuff. The first term of Reception is quite hard, so I suppose they only did a couple of things each at that point, but once they're over the 'tired' phase it hasn't been a problem at all.

thegreylady Sat 26-Jan-13 19:26:08

I posted a thread recently about how lovely my dgc school is.It is a small country school [about 90 pupils aged from 3 to 11.It is a warm,happy place with lovely staff and all the age groups seem comfortable together.
Even though my dd and I are both teachers and I am now retired I wouldn't recommend HE unless the local schools are awful.
The world is full of new people,new situations and unless she needs to be protected for a specific reason it is time to ease her into them.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 22:54:10

seeker, and others concerned, I have been to one of the schools that I applied to which is my preferred choice, but I went last year when DD was going to be going for nursery. It was too difficult to juggle with work and my other DC (who is younger) so we kept them both at their childminder. I have mostly seen the nursery and reception classrooms, but not the rest of the school.

seeker Sun 27-Jan-13 01:06:20

Too difficult. OK.

Bunbaker Sun 27-Jan-13 09:11:55

If you work part time can you not get a place for your daughter at pre-school on the days you are at home? She will only be there for 3 hours each day. It is a really good preparation for school.

cory Sun 27-Jan-13 15:25:37

Have a look round several now that your dd is older; sometimes it is difficult to visualise them in an environment while they still look small and vulnerable. And visiting schools is fun smile. It's not like you're committing never to HE in your life: just that it's not convenient at the moment, so you are investigating different options.

But don't worry about after school activities. If parents you know have made their children give them up, then that was their decision and chances are they would have made some equally silly decisions if they had been HE'ing.

It's not like the headteacher is going to come sneaking round your living room in the afternoons to check that nobody is having a good time

However busy their school day, the time they spend with you is longer (particularly if you count holidays) and you are still in charge of that.

mamalost Mon 28-Jan-13 11:23:43

Sorry, I meant that it was too difficult for DD to go to nursery and DS to go to childminder - so I kept them both at the childminder. There were also other reasons - like preferring a smaller setting, DD and DS being together, not wanting DD to be in nursery 9-3pm every day from such a young age etc. Not that it was too difficult to visit schools - sorry for confusing sounding sentence!

mamalost Mon 28-Jan-13 11:28:55

cory - do you find that in the normal school week there is enough time with DCs? If they do afterschool activities etc - is it not just dinner and bed by the time that they get home? I just can't imagine so much time away from home for such little ones. sad

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 11:40:09

School usually finishes about 3 o'clock. So if you meet them with a snack (which is often a good idea), they won't be ready for dinner for several hours yet. And plenty of activities can be done at weekends.

DumSpiroSpero Mon 28-Jan-13 11:45:19

It's really not that bad!

My DD was looked after by me, DH & her grandparent until she was 3, then did 3 years at a small, private nursery with just 16 children per session, all of whom went to a different primary so I had some concerns when she started school.

For the first week (part time hours) she came out every day and asked if she'd made any new friends and got a 'no' which freaked me out completely, but by the end of the first week she had a 'best friend' and had decided she liked school so much she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up. She's now 8.4 and still wants to be a teacher! grin

Her Reception teacher was not my cup of tea tbh, but she wasn't bad, and the three teachers she has had since have been brilliant, as is her head teacher.

It does get more difficult as they get older in terms of extra activities, homework and getting to spend time with them. I'm struggling a bit with that myself at the moment, but it just means a bit more effort and forward planning really.

DumSpiroSpero Mon 28-Jan-13 11:46:03

2 years at nursery not 3!

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 11:53:51

It depends on the child too. My dd wasn't happy unless every single second of her day was filled with something- she would have had 2after school activities then a friend to tea every day if I'd let her. Ds liked to come home and potter.

There's loads of day left after 3. And holidays are long.

Bunbaker Mon 28-Jan-13 12:37:18

"not wanting DD to be in nursery 9-3pm every day from such a young age etc."

Preschool hours are usually morning or afternoon and only three hours per session. It sounds to me that it is you who is having separation anxiety and are consdering HE for your own benefit than your DD's. Primary school round here finishes at 3.30 and there is plenty of time between 3.30 and bedtime to do stuff together.

I couldn't wait for DD to start preschool so that I could have some child free time during the day.

teacherwith2kids Mon 28-Jan-13 17:21:31

Agree with Bunbaker. Pre-school is usually sessional. Get your childminder - or do it on your days off - to take your child to a sessional pre-school for a couple of mornings a week. Honestly, it will make all the difference in terms of easing transition into school. OK, my ASD-ish son needed it, but even my VERY sociable daughter benefitted hugely from a stepped transition home all the time - pre-school a couple of hours a day - school.

shelley72 Mon 28-Jan-13 17:43:24

havent read all of the posts, but just wanted to reassure you OP that no, all schools are not that bad. a year ago, i felt the same way as you, and even up until the night before DS started school i didnt want him to go and felt sick to the stomach at the thought and would have chopped my right arm off if it meant he didnt have to go!

we had of course visited on our own, visited with him, left him for an induction morning. i was worried that he wouldnt make friends, that all of his thirst for knowledge would be knocked out of him, that teachers wouldnt have time to answer his sometimes daft questions, that it just wouldnt 'fit' him. we were offered our third choice school which made it so much the worse for my fears. i have a friend who HE and i think some of her thoughts about school i had taken on board myself. i took him on that first day, telling DH that we would give it until christmas and then i would HE if things werent working out.

however, i really needn't have worried. he settled in so well. he has made friends (didnt know anyone on first day) and has a great time playing with his friends. from what i see the class is made up of 'nice' children, the teachers are lovely and his yR teacher especially clearly loves her job and her class. he is doing well, and somewhere between all the playing and dressing up has learnt to read, confidently write a little, add and subtract. nothing exceptional you understand but he has made me so proud. he loves school and was a bit difficult at home for the first few weekends when he realised sat and sun were non-school days! he does have a reading book and occasional bits of homework but we do this and we still have time to do after school / weekend activities meet up with friends etc.

i think maybe if you visit and get a feel for the school yourself it might help ease your worries a little? reception classes are loud, be warned. but it was the loud chaotic atmosphere - ie children dressed up playing monsters that really attracted us. the children were learning (without realising it) and were happy.

shelley72 Mon 28-Jan-13 17:47:44

just to add, DD will shortly be 3 and we are thinking about pre school for her - she is at home with me full time and whilst (mostly) i love it, i know that i want to keep her with me for ME and that isnt necessarily what is best for her. she is getting to be very independent and needs her own friends to mix with and to prepare for school i guess. feel very guilty for even thinking of sending her when i am at home sad.

sneeders Mon 28-Jan-13 21:30:24

Mt children loved Reception, and it should be great fun with lots of play opportunities, and especially lots of social activities, and if there are problems, usually teachers who are experienced are great at talking through your concerns. I think one advantage of school over HE is that your children get a chance to learn from a perspective that is different from your own. But be reassured, you are your childs most important educator for a long time, even when they are in school. You are not doing anything wrong to your child enrolling them in school and they may even have the best time ever. Talk to the Headteacher and explain that you are feeling anxious and they may let you come and observe some time in Reception or simply explain their approach to reassure you.

sneeders Mon 28-Jan-13 21:31:22

Be kind to yourself

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