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Year 7 DD1 very unhappy and hating school(22 Posts)
Hello - I hope you can help me with this please.
DD1 started at an outstanding and very over-subscribed secondary school in September. The school has a strong discipline policy and she is finding it very hard to cope with.
She is a hard-working and motivated girl who loved primary school, but is finding things to be very different at secondary school. She is very stressed about remembering everything and doesn't like being responsible for keeping her books at home.
The school does set quite a lot of homework and she is keeping on top of this but really worries about whether she has remembered to do everything. She has a planner but panics when her homework timetable says she should have homework but nothing is written in her planner. She is worried that she will get a "stage" - this is a written warning in their planner (I think 3 = a detention).
She has had about 5 days off sick - 2 were when she had a tummy bug and really was ill, but I think the others were due to feeling sick with anxiety. Being off made things worse as she wasn't sure what homework had been set.
I was called in to the school as her attendance had dropped to 85% and had a good chat with the head of year 7. She was very helpful and said she would meet weekly with DD1 and have a chat with her about getting a stage. She also suggested seeing the school counsellor, but this hasn't happened yet due to half term. She did say these settling in problems are very common, but that she will be fine.
I was hopeful that all of this would help, but DD1 has gone back to school this week after half term and is even worse. She cried herself to sleep last night and told me this morning how unhappy she is and how she hates school. I feel terrible and wonder if she should change schools, but feel that this really is the best school for her as our other options are limited. Also I think that she will still have these issues at the other schools, although their discipline may not be as harsh.
I did take her to the GP a few weeks ago who suggested Moodgym, which is an internet based CBT program, but this looks to old for her.
Does anyone have any suggestions about what I can do to help DD1 please? Thank you.
I would seriously think about changing schools. Has she mentioned any other schools or about wanting to change?
I could have written your post last year..
All I can say is that we had a lovely 6 weeks break with DD & I dreaded the return to year 8, but (touch wood) she has been absolutely fine & is much happier than year 7
I think the transition can be a big shock, DD has a lovely form teacher who was very supportive.
Not much practical advice but & empathy from me!
She hasn't actually got a stage though has she? So this is more about her anxiety. I think if she changed schools this anxiety would still be there, but on top of that she would have to try to fit in where friendship groups have already formed. I would talk again to school and look at pastoral support.
Can you give her any more support at home?
e.g. Pack her bag with her so she know's she's not forgotten stuff?
Also, phone numbers of friends in her lessons so she can check with them if she thinks she might have missed writing something down?
Our catchment school is under-subscribed so she could probably go there but it has issues with gangs and does not have a good reputation. I think she would hate it there too but for different reasons.
Thanks Herladyship - it is reassuring that your DD has now settled down and is fine
Before half term DD was enjoying some/most of her lessons and even played a solo at the school concert. I think being off on half term has made things worse and it is her first day back today, so I'm hoping she may come home a bit more cheerful...it really just is this fear of getting a stage that ix the problem. Most of the children now have one, except her, but that doesn't seem to help...
No she hadn't got a stage yet (unless she had today). I am helping her pack her bag, I started this just before half term. She is then unpacking and re packing several times, just to be sure everything really is there.
She had got friends numbers and texts them to check, but is not reassured when they reply that the don't think any homework was set.
Yes it is purely anxiety and I do think she would feel like this at a new school too.
I emailed the head of year 7 this morning just to update her but haven't heard anything back yet.
Thanks very much for your replies.
In terms of moving schools, the things she is worried about might not be that different elsewhere.
In most secondary schools detentions are the punishments used for all sorts of things from forgetting PE socks to not doing homework. And all secondary schools expect pupils to be responsible for their own timetables and books. Even if she moved, she would still have those pressures.
That said however, the current school should be recognising that firstly this responsibility doesn't come easily to all new children and some support and reassurance would help. Plus some very conscientious children are so petrified of the new types of discipline at secondary school that it can create great anxiety. Again support and reassurance at home and at school are needed.
Half term seems to have messed up a lot of their attempts to help. Can you phone them today and say the issue is still there and you would appreciate it if they could talk with DD and help put things in place that are going to enable her to settle and maybe have a review booked for a week or two weeks to see that things are getting better?
Thank you tiggytape. I have emailed the head of year 7 who was having a mentoring session with DD1 this morning. I think I will see how that went when she comes home and then ring tomorrow if needed. It is year 7 form tutor evening next week and the head of year 7 said she would speak to me then. I do think the school are trying to help, but as you say half term got in the way. She is very conscientious as you say and the new discipline is very scary for her.
I think most of these issues would also be in a new school too. Thanks.
Your dd sounds a similar character to mine. I'm sure you have but some more reassurance along the lines of, yes school rules are important but it is not the end of the world if she does get a stage/detention. I know when did gets anxious and overly obsessed that a bit of girls time with mum and reassurance that I know she's trying hard goes a long way. Does she open up to you or keep her feelings all in?
Thanks - I have tried all of the reassurances I can but she won't listen unfortunately. I have just ordered a book called "what to do if you worry too much: overcoming anxiety for children" (of something similar). It has good reviews so hope this may help.
Concerning the homework planner. If I understand correctly, sometimes she is not set homework for a subject on her timetable. If this happens to my dc, I tell them to write, no homework set in their planner- so they have something to remind them. Just like I also suggest that if their book is taken in by the teacher, they make a note in their planner. Hope this makes sense.
Thank you ISAmum1 - yes she is supposed to do that but she panics when she hasn't written that - I will remind her again to do that. She has started marking on whether teacher has book today, so hopefully that will help thanks.
I would suggest you keep in close contact with head of year 7. Some students find it helpful to write home work details in the planner on the day it was set and the on the day it is due write rs homework due. Does she have one safe place to store all of her books in one place at home? Perhaps she can also stick up a colour codes timetable here as well. Perhaps setting a routine early in the evening to pack planner will help her relax.
I agree with other posters that it sounds more like an anxiety issue rather than organisational issue.
Perhaps make a point of pointing out to her all of the things she is doing to make sure that she stays organised, so that she can see that it is very unlikely that she will forget a piece of homework/her book as she is doing a great job of taking responsibility and organising herself.
Make a list with her of all the things she is doing to help herself and reiterate that if she 1.writes "no homework set" in her planner, or "book handed in" and 2. Checks her timetable the night before and packs her bag accordingly that she is very unlikely to forget something.
I'm a secondary school teacher and it is hard to watch all the little Y7s finding their feet and getting used to the rhythm of a new school, but I'm sure her teachers will not mind a bit if she has to pop back to reassure herself of what homework etc. is expected of her. I can't speak for anyone else but I make a point of letting my y7 groups know which break/lunchtimes I'll be in my classroom if they need anything... And a lot will pop in to show me what they've done or check what they need to do. I'd be mortified if I found out one of my pupils had been upset and didn't think they could approach me. She sounds very conscientious OP, I really hope it settles for her soon.
I have a lad in year 7 like this. His mum rang school about it and now he puts his planner on my desk when he comes in and I write either 'no homework' or I write the task in for him. After this half term I will just be writing 'no homework' and handing it to him when there is homework set, and he will write it in himself. Then after Christmas he will write it all himself. He really needs to check and gets stressed if he's not checking over and over, so if that responsibility is in my hands for the time being, it makes life easier for him.
They don't sound like insurmountable problems to me.
I know what you mean about dealing with the anxiety prone.
I wonder if you can come up with a system for supporting her, memory aids, etc.
Thank you everyone for your helpful suggestions. She is back to her normal self (for now anyway) and didn't get a stage today. She has done both homeworks set today and had ticked them off. She wrote "non set" for all other subjects and she had put a cross or tick depending on whether the teacher has her book or not. Fingers crossed we can keep on top of things now...
Starting secondary school is tough - wherever you go. Many schools are strict - hopefully things will improve for your daughter, you're doing the right thing keeping in close contact with the school. I think it took the whole of the first term for my dd to settle in, as she really was homesick for her primary school.
Regarding strictness, thought I would share this one with you. My ds came home on his first day of secondary and said a boy in his year was given a detention by a teacher because his tie wasn't done up properly!
At my son's school, they were pretty tough on the school rules, and any infringement got a detention straight away. By Christmas this had relaxed quite a bit.
My son was really worried he would do something wrong, and needed help to check his bag each night, check his planner and timetable. He wouldn't take his phone in case he forgot to turn it off during lessons.
Gradually he became more relaxed, but it did take about 2 terms. The best thing that happened was that he did get a detention for forgetting his homework, and he found it wasn't as big a deal as he had built it up to be in his mind
Wow what a mean techie to give a detention or his tie on the first day of term
DD is going to se the school counsellor next week, which hopefully will help. She has calmed down now (until the next time though) and had a great day yesterday.
Thanks for all of your helpful suggestions.
Could you find out further what it is that worries her most about getting a stage? Is it the prospect of an actual detention, or the shame of it, or some other impossible perfectionist rules she has imposed on herself to never get one, etc? Sometimes it's the fear of the unknown that is the worst, so maybe talking it through with her, what would happen, how it would work, where the detentions are, what does she have to do/say etc when she got there if she had to do one, etc would help - all the little tiny details that you might never think about, but in her mind might be huge (or would have been in my tiny panicked teenaged mind!). Also perhaps reassuring her that you'd not be cross if she got one, that the teachers won't be, that people won't notice if she has or hasn't got one or more, that it's not something that will be remember (either positively or negatively - if it was me, I'd been thinking that people would notice that I'd never got one, trying to find something to cling to that would mean positive approval from teachers as I was very insecure, when in reality, they probably wouldn't honestly have paid any attention!).
Also suggesting to her that once the first time is over, it won't seem like such a big scary thing anymore, and that it might even be a bit of a relief! (not that she should do anything on purpose to get one, but sometimes just having the things you're anticipating with dread over with can be hugely comforting when you find that it's not as bad as you thought, that your perfect record isn't perfect any longer and so you don't have to worry so much about being perfect).
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