Dd beginning to worry about starting Secondary (long sorry)(27 Posts)
Dd is a quirky child, youngest in year who doesn't have one single friend, rather lots of friends who she hangs out with if she likes the game they're playing. There are three classes which are mixed every year, and dd has always been split from her best friends in that class, and has had to make new friends each year.
The children have had their first meeting at Secondary school and have put in their choices of who they would like to be with next year. They could put three names in order of importance and dd actually put her best friend from babyhood first on the list, who is at a different school currently (I had misgivings but she was adamant!)
Anyway it looks like my dd won't appear on many children's lists as she is always on the periphery of social stuff, although has lots of play dates etc. It turns out that 2 of her least favourite girls at her current school have put her down (mainly because she doesn't have a mean bone in her body) She is beginning to panic that she will be in a class with her friend from the other school (who could potentially have all her previous school classmates as there were only 5 of them) these two girls who she has nothing in common with and no friends from her current school...
I know when she gets there she will make new friends - but she was separated from her infant school friends when she went to juniors and we had the most awful summer holiday and first two terms of juniors where she was thoroughly miserable and panic stricken so I would love to avoid that this time.
My question is, should I leave things to take their course or should I be one of 'those' parents and talk to someone about it. And if so, who? Her current school, who haven't really recognised what a worrier she is, or the new school?????
She hugely lacks confidence until she is completely secure and has a group of friends around her. I would love Secondary to be a positive experience for her
Thanks and sorry it's an essay!
I'd suggest talking (maybe emailing?) to her new head of Yr 7 - certainly at dd's secondary the year head is very approachable and helpful, and I've heard similar from other schools. They really do seem to aim to help make the transition process as smooth as possible, nothing like back when I moved up when it was like it or lump it!
I don't know who the head of year is... Hmm, will find out!
I don't want her labelled as a problem child before she even gets there, but she does have a few foibles which are causing issues as she gets older, so they might be getting to know us anyway I guess
I don't think being a worrier will make her a problem child! Believe me, they will be dealing with much worse . . . Honestly, they won't want her to be miserable
I'm a worrier too, incase you hadn't guessed! I was miserable at Secondary but I don't believe that's inevitable, so I'd like her to start off happy...
Is she going to have any days where she will visit the school? My DD is going in a couple of weeks for a new intake day and she will find out then who else will be in her form group. My DD is also quirky (she is like a cross between Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood, and is very proud of it). I am also a little concerned that her quirks are going to lead to her getting some hassle but am trying to put that to the back of my mind. She is currently very confident about herself and her ways, I am hoping that confidence is going to be enough to counter any potential problems.
Hi! Nice to meet parents of other quirky dc
Yes she's got a day at the beginning of July. Eek, that seems soon!
Dd isn't particularly confident, but accepts she is an introvert who doesn't like being the centre of attention. This leads to her not fighting for her friendships, she waits hoping they'll come to her and tags along at the back of the group even though the girls are supposed to be her friends! It makes me sad but she doesn't know any other way I guess. I'm doing my best to work on her self esteem - Guides, music etc - but she definitely struggles to see her own value
I'm really hoping Secondary is where she finds her own feet a bit more!
It's hard isnt' it? My DD is very comfortable with herself and isn't bothered about how others see her but it doesn't stop me worrying! I try my best to avoid projecting that on to her. I think it's worked so far because whenever anyone has mentioned that the other children at school might think x,y,z is weird and tease her about it her response has been "So? I don't care. If they don't like me because of that then they are stupid." (I have suggested she doesn't tell them that.
Will you get a form list from the new school? Just wondering if it is worth trying to arrange a playdate/pizza hut meet up etc with someone she bonds with on the open day.
My DD was the only one from her school to go to her senior school. By chance, she engaged with another "only" in her form, and they became best friends. Not so much now (Year 11), but I believe their friendship allowed both of them to find their feet.
I would definitely email. My DD2 is in year 7 and started with only 8 other people from her primary (not our catchment one) and is quiet. Had previously been really settled in a group of 5 friends of primary but for one reason or another, they all ended up going to different secondary schools. My friends laughed at me because I emailed the school to ask for her to be in a tutor group with a girl she knew a bit who lived a few doors away (but different primary) so that they would end up more friendly, walk together and introduce her it her friends from her catchment primary. I also emailed as in year 7 the children can learn either French or Spanish but you get told which language with no choice, unless you have a valid reason. I emailed explaining that we spend a lot of time in Spain and therefore have a strong preference for Spanish. My reasoning was not exactly valid because they meant bilingual families who may or may not wish their child to do a language because their child speaks it already. Anyway, I knew she really wanted to do Spanish and thought it was worth a try. They said that she had been put in the French class but were able to move her and she did get put in a tutor group with the girl I mentioned. I'm sorry it's so long but my point is, I nearly didn't send the emails and my friends wouldn't have done, but it has definitely helped her settling in and she is now very happy (after a shakes start). Incidentally, she also met her new best friend in her Spanish class! I took the attitude that it did no harm to try and rather than sit back and see it had gone wrong and wish I had tried. You don't really have anything to lose:-) Goodluck.
They take the year 6 to year 7 transition very seriously at DD's school and they have a wonderful learning mentor who deals with this sort of thing every year.
I would contact the secondary school and ask to speak to their year 7 learning mentor or whatever they call that role there. They will be understanding as they will be used to dealing with similar situations.
DD sounds very like your daughter, but has managed to make some nice friends. There is a much larger pool of people to find friends among and your daughter is far more likely to find someone she loads in common with.
By the way, I think secondary school is definitely good for the quieter, non leading kind of children. My eldest drifted through primary school with no best friend but quite happily. But in secondary school she found children who were more like her and became very very happy and confident.
As a secondary teacher I'd agree: contact the school and speak to the head of year 7 suggesting pupils or at least the kind of pupil that DD might get on with is helpful (ie list hobbies/ qualities) as it makes it easier for the staff to match her up with someone. I'd also suggest contacting her new form teacher with your concern ASAP at the start of term- it means that they will be aware of it and can, for example, sit her with a sympathetic peer on the first day. I would see a parent who did this (happens most years!) as being helpful rather than fussy IYSWIM- if I take on a year 7 tutor group I am keen to help pupils settle in and this kind of info makes it easier to avert problems of lonely pupils. I'm sure she will be fine!
Thank you all so much, you are helping enormously. Dh thinks I am mad, but I know dd and I know how miserable school can be when it doesn't work...
If you don't know who the head of year 7 is, then phone the school and ask! Contact them (they may have to phone you back) and discuss your worries. They may even be able to arrange an extra settling in visit.
Heads of year 7 are chosen to be the kind of people who can deal with this kind of thing. They will have seen all kinds of circumstances (including a group of close friends have a row on the day they made their choices, so not put one of their real friends down).
One school I know doesn't finalise those choices until after the visit day, as some children don't know anyone but can on that day choose someone they put down on their list.
My DCs school (well last year they did this, it could have changed again this) no longer allow such choices, and shuffle everyone up. although I believe they will have taken school and parental comments on who not to pair up.
Secondary school may be much bigger, but often it is also much easier to find people you really click with.
Also ask the head of year what activities are available and make sure DD signs up- that way she will make friends with similar pupils even if they're not in her class. Pupil librarians club, chess club, war hammer club, creative writers group etc are full of quirky kids in my school ( and are run by quirky staff who can help her settle in too.
Definitely second Toads suggestion - my dd has made some really good friends through the clubs she goes to (poetry club / library helpers / art club), it widens their options outside of their own form/year group.
DD's classmates tend to the sporty, with their main breaktime activity being scratch games of rugby, so clubs have been a lifeline!
Your dd sounds a bit like my 13yo dd. she wasn't put with any of her friends at secondary school. In fact, not only was she not in a form with any of her friends she was in a different band. The school is so big they split into 2 (not level) random bands and these bands may as well be two different schools as they're never in lessons together.
The first couple of terms were tough....but I think they always will be when its such a massive change. She made a friend but then they drifted apart after a term. I worried that she'd lost her chance to make new friends but by Easter of year 7 she'd made some great friends.
I still wouldn't say she's got a best friend but there's a group of 5 of them who hang out without any bitching or drama. They're all a bit geeky/alternative and its nice to see her friends with people she has interests with. Rather than at primary school I think they're sometimes just friends with someone they've known in their class for ages.
I've been HoY7 and I would appreciate you emailing me. We do want your DC to be happy and able to learn .
It would also mean that I could put her in a tutor group with an experienced tutor who would be able to support any daily worries that she had.
Thank you all once again
I've got an appointment with her current head later this afternoon, as my dh was really concerned about bothering the secondary already. But now I've seen so many of you saying contact the HOY, I'm thinking I may need a two pronged approach...
If it's any comfort, DD chose to go to a school where she knew no one in her year. On Day 2, a couple of girls from the smallest feeder primary (five girls, like in your case) came over to her and said 'We saw you were on your own. Would you like to be our friend?'
Soooo... don't underestimate the kindness of other children she doesn't yet know. She might well be 'adopted' by the five girls from the other school, or turn a slightly awkward five into two happier sets of three.
Honestly don't worry about contacting the secondary- the HoY7 will WANT to know as it averts potential problems of your DD being unhappy, and there's almost certainly another pupil in the cohort that needs pairing up with her . And it's unlikely that they are going to put the phone down and say 'Oh no! A supportive parent giving me useful info on a lovely quiet girl pupil'!
Viva, glad to hear there's another group of girls somewhere who just putter along together without drama. DD has in turn 'adopted' a gentle, maths-minded, musical, only child who arrived alone from a convent school like a refugee from an earlier century.
DD says 'Sometimes the cool girls come over to our group for a rest, because we just chat and have fun instead of falling out all the time.'
Just echoing what most people have said, I am a head of year 7 and I would really want to hear from you by phone or email with any concerns like this whilst I'm still at a planning stage with form groups etc. It makes everyone's life easier, especially your daughter's. You will be one of many parents doing this, it's expected!
Yes I'm relieved to hear about non drama-llama girls
Well quick update, I spoke to her current teacher as the HT had been called away to a meeting. He said he'd already had a meeting with the HOY and that she is ever so nice, so he felt sure she'd be happy to chat to me. So, tomorrow I'll give her a call!
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