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Do you have a young child (Reception-ish) who struggles in the playground with large groups? If so did it get better?

(6 Posts)
JessiCake Wed 13-Jun-18 12:12:41

DD was very overwhelmed by the playground when she first started Reception earlier this year.

It got quite a lot better in January but now for various reasons it's got worse again.

She has no hearing problems or SN. She just dislikes running around games (!) and very big groups of children/chaos! She is significantly happier in a small group, 3 or 4 kids maximum, playing imagination games or bug-hunting etc.

Yes, she needs to learn to adapt, and we are working on this. That said, it's also entirely her prerogative to say she's very uncomfortable in a gorup. Her class has one or two BIG dominant personalities who I think tend to 'run' group games, and a lot of the children she likes end up in these games while she feels unable/unwilling to join in.

Of course, usually by the time all this has happened it's halfway through play and she isn't able to find other people to play with. She's confident child but not an outspoken one, if that makes sense, she's more quietly confident, and though she does ask others if she can join in sometimes, I think that many 5 year olds are quite black-and-white thinking and tell her she can't join in as they're already playing with so-and-so.

I've just spoken to the teacher who is going to see what she can do to help, I assume let the playground staff know there's an issue.

But what can we do ourselves to help DD out here? I don't want to tell her to just 'join in' - she really dislikes huge groups and feels intimidated by one girl who is 'in charge'. I am encouraging her that it's OK to walk away if she's unhappy with a large group situation and telling her time on her own is better than playing a game she's miserable doing.

Any other advice? She has I would say about 7 or 8 little pals in the class, she's a tiny bit picky with people but she really likes the people she likes. But either they are happily involved in the big group game or she can't find them in the playground (which I think seems vast to a 5 year old!)

Thanks in advance, any advice much appreciated, and/or would love to know if this gets better as they head into Year 1, 2 and onwards.

Thistles24 Wed 13-Jun-18 12:30:18

Yes! My eldest was like this starting playgroup, and for the first year tolerated going but I don't think he ever truly enjoyed it. Any toddler groups I took him to he was quite happy to sit beside me playing with a couple of cars, but not get involved with all the others who would be running about. It used to stress me out to be honest, but in his 2nd year at nursery he made a friend who was similar to him which helped a lot. Upon starting school he was in a fairly small class, and again I think that helped too. He's nearly 10 now, and I think the biggest game changer for him was finding his "thing" out of school (sports, for him) which he's really good at so others seek him out to be on their team etc. He's still happier with his small group of 5 friends, and for example at athletics is in a different group to them so would just stand by himself between activities/waiting for his turn rather than approach the main group of boys and try join in the conversation but he's perfectly happy with it that was. And having now got DS2 who is one of the more dominant personalities, I know which is easier to deal with!!
It sound like she's just an introvert, and there's nothing at all wrong with that! If she's allowed, I'd let her take something to school (DS takes his beloved football cards) so at break, if all the others are playing together she has something to focus on, but as long as she's happy and isn't being/feeling excluded then I wouldn't worry.

Fluteytootey Wed 13-Jun-18 12:35:25

Following because I think my daughter will struggle with this when she starts reception in September. Tips from those who’ve been through it would be really appreciated

brokenteacup Wed 13-Jun-18 12:41:56

I have ds1 now in year 1 who is the same. It gets better as they get older as they understand the dynamics a bit better. The thing that we found helps in the short-term is play dates. On the day of the play date they seem to stick together like glue and then the next day too. After a bit it wears off so another play date renews it for a few more days. He now always seems to play with people, never really big groups though. A big change from reception, so yes I expect it will get better!

brokenteacup Wed 13-Jun-18 12:52:26

Oh and nothing wrong with telling her to go and talk with the teacher on duty. Ds did that a lot in reception and then it gave him the chance to observe what was going on. He's a very kind boy so won't play with anyone who has a tendency to be mean. Ds2 on the other hand is completely the opposite and everyone always wants to play with him, he makes makes friends anywhere etc. So really it is their personality before you start worrying you might have done something wrong!

JessiCake Wed 13-Jun-18 19:43:17

Thanks hugely everyone, that's really reassuring!

The issue I guess is that though she's not totally unhappy at being on her own in the playground every now and then, it starts to get to her when it's too often. She's a bit like me, an oddly introverted extrovert (!) who really enjoys other people's company but finds it easier on her own terms and not feeling overwhelmed.

I will let her know that if she wants to just chat to the teachers on duty, that's fine. She really enjoys that and I think it's a place of safety for her, but I do know she also wants to play.

Today for example she came home and said she had been playing with 2 others but then one of these particular girls that she finds very domineering came over and took over the game, turned it into another game (running around kind of game which y slughtly lazy DD hates!) and then basically told everyone they had to do what she said.

Teacher seems to have spotted the same issue (a couple of girls that dictate what is played, and who happen to enjoy big noisy group games so that's therefore what gets played) and said they will police it.

Who knew 5 year olds could be such hard work??!

Thanks again everyone.

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