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Any advice please, DDs don't want to go to school(8 Posts)
Am feeling a bit distraught today. Bit of background - I have two adopted daughters placed with us 4 years ago, now in year 4 and year 1. Oldest has attachment difficulties and anxiety and has had several sets of therapy, youngest has anxiety issues and is currently in therapy. The school always say supportive things to me and appear to try to be helpful but I think there is a general lack of acknowledge hat the girls have any issues because they don't act out in lessons, largely as this is not how they show their anxiety! I have sent in multiple documents with how to spot when they are anxious, how to build relations with themetc etc but it hasn't made much difference. I am keen to be more assertive and get better help this year for them.
Oldest has always says she's hated school and doesn't want to go but is a people pleaser so I acknowledge how hard it is for her and we have lots of time together in the morning and then she gets ready to go with no problems. Youngest is not so compliant so we have tear and tantrums and refusing to get dressed or eat as she wants to stay at home. The morning transition for youngest was eased at the end of last year (probably since Easter) with me and her going into class before it starts so she gets settled. This is currently not helping at all at home and ten in the classroom she's really clingy. Also this term so far oldest has really objected to me not waiting in playground first thing and so I end up in the year 1 class room with both girls clinging to me and asking me not to leave. The teachers are so busy they don't even notice and the girls would never cause a scene. As they get too embarrassed.
Anyway I am going to ask for a meeting with the special needs coordinator and the two teachers and see if we can come up with a plan for when we get to school. Does anyone have any ideas what I should ask for? Also if anyone has any ideas how I can make mornings less distressing while we get ready? I'd be very grateful.
Have you tried:
- transition object such as a toy, or family photo, or scarf with your perfume on it
- arrive early and hand over early before everyone else
- arrive at the last minute and hand over after everyone else
- hand over to office
- 'special job' so need to enter classroom early (and feel special, and get praise)
- rewards/treats for going in nicely
AD2 went through clingy phases. In reception the teacher asked for a physical handover, she literally took DD's hand and talked to her each morning. Otherwise we found a transition object of a small cuddly toy (that she could also get out at break and lunch) worked well, even in to y6.
With DD2 it was not liking goodbyes, once I was gone she was usually OK.
Poor you this sounds incredibly difficult.
Would it be worth asking if there is a member of staff at school (like a TA) who might be able to take on a kind of key worker role like they do at nursery and be someone that your DDs can go to every morning rather than having to go through the usual playground routine? I just wonder whether if they had one specific person at school that was specially for them and was there to welcome them without all the pressure of the usual whole class handover in the playground whether this might help reduce anxiety? I don't know.
On a school level it sounds like school are willing but clueless. I don't know whether training for staff on issues adopted children face in school might be a helpful way for them to spend the pupil premium your daughters bring to the school? or whether if there is enough money they could use it to part fund an additional member of staff to support your girls?
Is there a family support worker at the school? If so could they become the 'key worker' for the girls? To be their 'go to' person when they are feeling anxious? I guess this depends very much on their skills / expertise and rapport with your children.
Could the class teacher or TA or family support worker visit your house outside of the school day (I know this is asking a lot of already very busy staff but they might be able to) to help build a positive relationship between school and your girls?
I really wish I could offer you some more practical advice as this sounds really tough for you all. I'll rack my brains for anything else you could ask school to do.
Cross post with sanders who's given some great suggestions
Milli our son is adopted but going into school has not been too much of an issue so I am not full of ideas. But we have had a few stresses, luckily he likes school so it is more a case of just him faffing about, moaning etc.
What we do now for our son is have quite a long time in the mornings when he can have some telly before school (as long as he is ready) and this has made life easier,. To be honest this was not started for him but rather because our birth dd, now nearly 12, is at high school and so gets up and goes earlier - so we all get up earlier!
I'd also say ask how the school how the PP money is spent and whether it could be spent on bringing in an attachment specialist who could do a training session for all the teachers at the school, or at least all who are likely to teach your girls.
Before you do this please do speak to social services and see if there is a person who could help with this.
What are they like at night, what is bed time routine like?
I'd also see if it is possible to let the girls choose some really nice calming night time activities for after school to put them in a good frame of mind, e.g. film night with popcorn (not late) and/or a family game or activity or just making hot chocolate with marshmallow before bed (before teeth clean). The idea is that by feeling comfortable and happy when they go to bed they may wake up more ready for the next day.
We've been through similar with DD, and some of the things we found that helped were:
- getting up much earlier in the morning, so that it didn't feel like it was time to go out almost as soon as getting up
- taking a toy to school to be carried in and then popped into her bag for lessons
- enabling her to "earn" a special treat with the teacher (helping tidy up, running an errand) every time she had got to five mornings without a big fuss
- verbally acknowledging that saying goodbye was difficult, and being clear who was picking her up at the end of the day
We get up early enough for in-bed cuddles and milk, which makes a huge difference to how LO is able to face the day.
We're lucky that our school is incredibly tuned in to both DD in particular, and attachment stuff. We have a photo of us on a key ring on her bag, her coat pocket, and in her cardigan pocket. Each day I give her something she "keeps safe" for me (like a library card or a loyalty card) and she chooses something for me to keep safe for her (usually a soft toy to have in my bag). We do the arriving once the class is settled thing, so totally avoid the playground and all the other children settling. She has a box she can ask for /go and get, with things like the same scented playdough we use at home, a soft piece of blanket to stroke etc. The class teacher gave us feelings cards, that DD can slip into the teacher's hand if she's feeling overwhelmed but can't express it - the teacher then keeps her close for a bit, by devising a quiet little job, or something. Definitely a good call to involve the SENCO (and ask if they are also the LAC lead - they often are). You could suggest they ask the virtual school or adoption team what training's available? Sometimes you need to spell out for school that PP is to help children reach their potential after trauma, and academic attainment isn't going to come unless the child feels safe and secure, so that's where the investment needs to go. Whether that's a 1:1 to support them through the start of the day and at lunch, or a safe, quiet corner they can retreat to, or the creation of a small nurture group to help build friendships, or whatever...
You could also ask them to help identify triggers - these are often transitions, moving rooms, different teachers, lunchtimes, particular noises...and help you come up with solutions for your children. Good luck, I hope the meeting is really helpful.
Ask your school, if they could use the pupil premium for both children in part to access teacher training in areas which would benefit the whole class but primary would benefit your children more so.
Have seen Sensory Diet's which work very well any good SENCO or OT will
be aware of. Can Google
There is lots of ideas and suggestions regards teacher training and pupil
premium also Resources at www.Adoption Social.com
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