When will Year 7 become fun?

(3 Posts)
Scatter Wed 25-Sep-13 12:42:31

DS1 started at secondary school three weeks ago. He has always been a friendly, sociable, confident and quite high-achieving child. He's academically able and has never had problems at school beyond normal playground stuff.

He HATES secondary school. Doesn't want to be there at all. Can't tell me any specifics and when questioned, he talks about quite a few new friends. He isn't struggling to organise himself and is finding the work easy/boring. He has joined in lots of groups, mainly sports and music. He's having no trouble with the journey to school and walks/gets lifts with friends each day.

He just says that he misses his old friends and his old school. I can understand this - he was very happy there, very confident and doing really well. But it breaks my heart that he isn't settling well into the new school. It's a good school and we chose it together with him. Before he started he was excited about going and seemed very pleased to be moving there. He knew several boys who were going there with him, although none were close friends of his.

Anyone with any experiences of Year 7 issues out there? How long did it take your children to settle? I have already spoken to the Head of Year (after DS sent me texts saying that he hates the school, hates everything) who has had a quiet word with DS1. He (Head of Year) told me that DS seems fine, moves around school with a group of friends, and has no specific problems.

Help! Will my happy, confident boy ever return or will he be miserable for ever and will it be all my fault for sending him to the wrong school? How far should I extend my sympathy and at what point should I tell him just to buck up and get on with it??

All advice gratefully received.

Tuhlulah Wed 25-Sep-13 13:40:26

Scatter, I sympathise. Also have Yr 7 son. He came from a small close knit community primary school, and was sad for a day at the end of term. His new school is also quite small with similar ethos. His close friend emigrated at the beginning of Yr 5, and they Skype a lot and we have visits here and there. So no close friends going to his school.

However: I have friend with an older son who has just started 6th Form college. He is apparently quite gifted in his subject (Art) and is doing level 3, (none of this means much to me, am still in Yr 7 mental mode). He is a lovely sensitive 16 year old (a lot like a bigger version of my son). He started college and texted his mum within hours that it was disappointing, that he was the youngest in his class and that everyone else was far older and didn't talk to him. Same thing for next few days, he very unhappy, his mum distraught. The kids his age were in a different class doing level 1 Art, which he had skipped due to being specifically talented, incipient genius, etc.

I saw his mum yesterday. Her son is now fine. He has made friends with the older people in his class, but was surprised they would talk to him given the age difference. He has also made friends with the kids in other classes. The work is fine and he is happy. His mum told me she was very worried and upset, and that he said to her he felt under pressure because she was so upset.

Re your immediate situation, it depends on your son's personality and your relationship with him and what kind of mum you are. Each to their own.

Going to secondary is a huge transition, and I think we take it for granted that they will just adjust. It sounds like he misses his old school but I bet if he went back there he's see it as babyish and he's feel very mature and too old for it now. Now even though he chose it and it's probably the perfect school for him (because you both thought so at the time), he feels a bit overwhelmed. Or it's not what he thought it would be. Or whatever. As long as he's not being picked on/bullied and the school is capable of teaching him, and he is in a safe environment, then you have done what you can for the moment. He has to do this, not you. At this stage they have to 'do it' for themselves. Isn't it a good thing that he can't tell you anything specific -implying there isn't anything specific which is an issue, so no horrible kids, no nasty teacher, no girl who has broken his heart already? Just the unfamiliar, maybe...

Re work, are they not all just starting them off gently before they start giving serious work? I've noticed the standard of work at my son's school is not exacting but he does say he is learning things. Will there be streaming?

So, what can you do? Keep listening and try to get him to keep talking. Communication is so important. Try to identify exactly what his issue is. Think realistically about what you can do about it, what he can do about it. Lots of kids have teething problems at first. He is not the first nor will be the last.

He is still the bright, confident, happy, able boy he was 6 months ago but he has just faced probably the biggest challenge of his life so far. It may be, reading back over your OP, that he misses not having a friend. And that is something he will have to find for himself.

Me? I'd try not to give the 'you need a good kick up the backside/there are children in Africa who would give a leg to be in your school' speech just yet, although I'd feel tempted eventually. Remember: you chose this school together.

Your DS is having a lot of 'new' at the moment, so make sure he has plenty of 'old' as well to counteract that. I note my son takes one huge developmental leap forward and then two retrograde steps. I've noticed that since he has started secondary school he is relistening to Harry Potter audio books every evening (i could strangle that f*****g Stephen Fry) which for him is a retrograde step, the old and familiar.

Hope you get some more positive feedback tonight. It's a fine line you have to walk, not making it seem like a big deal but also caring terribly.

Tuhlulah Wed 25-Sep-13 13:41:43

and sorry for the typos.

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