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AIBU to encourage my DS2 to move schools

(15 Posts)
peanutbuttercup Fri 10-Nov-17 03:30:10

Am after a bit of advice. So as not to drip feed I'll probably give too many details. We are in NZ so school system is a bit different DS2 is 10 and has two more years of primary school (or intermediate) before college.

5 years ago when he was 5 we moved him and DS1 from the large local (totally average) primary down the road to a small rural school about 10 mins drive from us. DS1 was not thriving at the big school and had anxiety and behavioural issues which were not addressed.
The move to the small school has been great for him and next year he will move on to college. DS2 has two more years to go at this school.

DS2 is basically an average kid, average academically, average at sport etc. He is kind, a bit silly but well behaved in the classroom. There are 6 boys his age at school 4 of which are a tight unit who are all very sporty. DS2 is close friends with the other boy and tends to only play with him and one other girl in the class.

One of the four other boys is often not nice to DS2, he has in the past called him names and often puts him down for not being as good at sport or good at math etc. This boy is a dominant personality and a loud mouth and leads the others to sometimes also be mean. This is one of the reasons I want DS2 to move schools.

The other reason, and this is where I don't know if IABU, is that his best friend is a very withdrawn and sad child. He often tells DS2 that he wants to die and DS2 take on the role of trying to always cheer him up and tell him he has so much to live for etc. The teachers are always complimenting DS2 on how great he is with this friend and I know it is a lovely trait that he is so caring but he's 10 years old and this is a lot to deal with.

Today I sent DS2 to the large school down the road for a visit with a view to going there next year (school year here starts in Feb). He has a close friend at that school whose class he sat in on. When I picked him up he'd had a great time and said he'd made lots of new friends and all of his friend's friends had become his friend etc. However, when I asked him if he'd want to go to this school he said he didn't know. He would be worried about his friend at his current school. I would be worried about him too but do I let that stop me doing what is highly likely the right thing for my DS.

Just to add regarding the depressed friend, I do not know his mother very well our relationship is very much a surface type thing and when I've asked her about him or how he is before she tells me nothing.

I've told DS2 that I will let him decide but I know what I want him to decide and would IBU to just make him change schools if that's not what he chooses. Do I let him remain at a school where he's treated poorly by most of the other boys and is basically the therapist for his friend?

peanutbuttercup Fri 10-Nov-17 03:31:36

I've just realised that I've started this conversation at 3:30am UK time.....

MrsOverTheRoad Fri 10-Nov-17 03:40:39

I'm in Oz OP...I'm up.

I understand your worries. Do you feel now that DS2 has grown in his confidence and is generally less anxious?

Aside from wanting to get him away from his rather negative friend, what are the other reasons which you'd consider moving him for?

Is the larger school better now than it was?

peanutbuttercup Fri 10-Nov-17 03:49:55

It was DS1 who is now 13 that we moved schools for. Ds2 was at the large primary for less than a year when we made the move and was fine there but wanted to go where his brother was. I don't know if the school has changed but DS2 is an average kid so I think it would be fine for him.

AuntieVenom Fri 10-Nov-17 04:04:55

I'm in NZ too, so also awake. In your shoes I'd encourage your son to move.

beingsunny Fri 10-Nov-17 04:09:57

I’m in oz and I think I would encourage a move for him, it sounds as though this would be a great move for him socially before high school

Mummyoflittledragon Fri 10-Nov-17 04:11:21

Have you spoken to the school about the depressed kid? I think you should. He needs outside intervention and counselling.

I think you should move your ds. But before you do, I would pull out all the stops for this kid so that your ds knows that you, an adult are doing your best to deal with the situation. He’s little and this isn’t his job.

If your ds is leaving the school, you have nothing to loose with this mum. I would write her a letter, drop it through her letter box and explain to her that your ds is worried about him and exactly why. Also inform her of your decision to change schools. She may decide to do the same. She is his mother and she needs to address the situation. Perhaps also give the mum your telephone number so the boys can keep in touch.

Emerencealwayshopeful Fri 10-Nov-17 04:20:21

Also in oz.

If I’m reading correctly you think your younger son will thrive in the larger school that did not work for his brother. S1 will be in high school (college) next year so only one child is still in primary.

It sounds like socially your younger child is likely to be happier in the local larger school. It is also walking distance from home which will take pressure off you in the mornings, though that isn’t something you mentioned.

Your responsibility is to your child. If you have decided that he has the right to choose you need to give him some tools to help. If you find the decision difficult he is not going to find it less scary.

Maybe together create a pros and cons list. Remind him that [friend] is not his responsibility and that there is no guarantee that he will be there for the next two years, people move and change schools etc all the time.

Help him think about how to maintain current friendships when at a different school.

He’s likely to be worried about the transition as well, so he might need your help to write those down and decide how important they are.

As the parent you are not being unreasonable to insist your child move to a new school. You might be being unreasonable in asking him to choose for himself though. I think you know that moving is the better choice. You just need to help him own the decision. Especially because if he doesn’t he’ll likely to blame you whenever there is a bump and there are always bumps.

You can also (if you like) make term 1 a trial term with an agreement to go back to little school if it doesn’t work out.

Emerencealwayshopeful Fri 10-Nov-17 04:22:39

And agree that if you think the other child has real issues you should raise with current teacher (and maybe the mother) your concerns.

MrsOverTheRoad Fri 10-Nov-17 04:27:09

I agree with the other posters OP. Move him. He will have more opportunities for wider friendships.

I've moved my children and they were fine.

DD1 moved schools aged 7...from a tiny private prep to a larger, rural primary school and then aged 11 from the UK to Australia.

Even though she was and is a sensitive child, she's been fine and made friends quickly.

peanutbuttercup Fri 10-Nov-17 04:30:53

Thanks for the good advice. I haven't spoken to the school but have thought about it. I can't imagine that they don't know but I do want to check and I absolutely agree that this boy needs professional intervention. I don't know how much information they'd be able to give me but I might be able to get a feel for whether things are already underway for him or not. The Mum is unlikely to move him to the big school as he was there and moved to our school two years ago due to his issues. Also the small school has become zoned this year so if we do move DS2 he's unlikely to be able to go back even if he wanted to.

JWrecks Fri 10-Nov-17 04:35:17

I have a mad work schedule and sleep disorder, so I'm up as well!

Goodness, this is a tough one, @OP. For one thing, your DS (who sounds like a positively lovely boy! well done you, raising such a mature and caring young man!) likely would worry quite a bit about his SF (sad friend), and for quite a while. I'm well on in years and even my DC are grown, but I often think of, and worry about, and have even tried to find, one particularly sad girl I remember from year 3!

And, I know this is NOT your problem and NOT your responsibility, but looking at it from the outside, I might worry about SF as well. If he talks about dying, and he's only got your DS as a friend... Goodness, that's so sad. But from a mum's perspective, I'd worry about DS's reaction to 'leaving him behind' as he may see it. He could feel guilty and even find it difficult to enjoy having a good time at the new school if he worries about his poor SF still there and suffering.

Perhaps you could speak to the school about what DS has told you about SF, some of the things he's repeated to you, about the way the particularly mean boy treats him? It's all things your son has relayed to you himself, so I don't think that would be a breach of privacy...? [However, somebody more well versed in these things, please do say if that's incorrect!] You could let them know that there is one boy who is often especially mean to SF, and that he's talked about dying, just so that somebody is looking out for the poor lad. That could help ease your DS's mind about the move, and make him feel less guilty about switching schools.

Maybe even if you don't do the move; that's really an awful lot of heavy responsibility that your lovely boy has taken on as it is. Hmm... would it be possible to meet with SF's parents and ask if they could move him to the other school as well? Maybe after DS has settled in and shown to be happier? You could broach the subject knowing both your DS had trouble with some of the boys in class.

But in reality, just as you said, it's your own DS's future you've got to concentrate on, and just as you said, you cannot let this other boy's situation dictate your son's future, even if DS might feel bad about it for a while. It does sound like DS would be much happier, and therefore do much better, at the other school. From what I've read here, I think I would do the move, if I were you.

Maybe you can sit DS down and talk to him about all of that, even though it's a bit weighty? He sounds quite mature, so maybe you can just lay it all out for him. Explain to him how much it would impact so many other aspects of his life, being happy at school - how there would be more social opportunities in and out of school, how he would be happier in general. The school years really seem like forever at his age; that's several more years of going to the same school with the same social group every single day. Perhaps suggest he arrange some activities with his friend, and ensure him that they can and will keep in touch and remain friends. You could even ask him how he would feel about you speaking to the head teacher or something, getting somebody to look out for SF, and you could ask his opinion on suggesting SF move to the new school after a term or so.

Hehe, you've created a conundrum for yourself by raising such a lovely and sensitive DS. I don't envy you this difficult decision, but it does seem like a fairly good problem to have. ;) Doesn't make it easier to solve, though!

(And ughhhh sorry for such a long post!!)

MissWimpyDimple Fri 10-Nov-17 06:24:00

I think you need to take the decision away from your DS. It’s a lot to ask of a 10 year old.

I would move him. It’s going to be harder for him to move up to High School from such a tiny school anyway.

I am someone with a “tricky” older brother, a lot of the decisions about our childhood were made on the basis of what was right for him (being the first to go through etc) and it didn’t always suit me.

You do need to talk to the school about his friend though - if a child is saying he wants to die, then school needs to know.

Move your son and make sure he stays in touch with friend.

CaptainHarville Fri 10-Nov-17 06:31:34

Don't make it your DSs decision. Its yours as the parent and it's very simple because your DS would be happier at the other school so move him.

peanutbuttercup Fri 10-Nov-17 07:36:45

Thanks everyone for your replies. It is really hard and I know I will also feel horribly guilty if we change schools and leave SF. I will talk to the school about it, I think they must have some idea (they certainly know he's got very low self esteem) but maybe not that wanting to die is a recurring theme. SF is an only child btw I'm not sure if that makes any difference to anything.

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