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To hate school.

(87 Posts)
Areyoufree Mon 25-Mar-19 09:19:24

Just had to drag my 7 year old and 5 year old to school. Both of them in floods of tears. My 5 year old perked up once he got there, but my 7 year old had to be peeled off me (they are very used to doing this by now), and my last image was of her pale, crumpled, miserable, tear soaked face staring up at me. I don't know why we do this. This is her third year of school now, and it isn't getting any better. She has good days, but I would estimate that 30-40% of the time she is miserable going in, and about 5% she is verging on hysterical. This isn't doing anyone any good, surely? Seeing as our school system isn't a good fit for all children, should we be rethinking it?

Allfednonedead Mon 25-Mar-19 15:13:50

Two out of three of my DC have gone through long phases of this. As I said previously, one has been diagnosed and we've asked for a referral for the other for ASD (not because of the school drop-off issue).

Various things have helped at different times.

A TA who made it her job every day to welcome DS and have a job for him to do at the start of the day.

A transitional object for DS to get interested in when he was upset (in his case, a pair of binoculars)

Getting up earlier and giving more warning about when we were going to leave for school.

A visual schedule of the morning, from getting up to starting class.

Talking through what happens at school each morning and discovering that DS had difficulty with the first lesson. I then talked to the teacher and we arranged an accommodation for him.

Being firm and consistent that this is happening - not sticking around longer than necessary.

At one point I had to give up volunteering in an adjacent classroom because it unsettled DS.

Introducing melatonin in the evenings to support sleep has had the additional benefit of reducing anxiety and stress, making the transition easier.

As you may deduce, no single solution has been a final answer, because with ASD, transitions are always tricky, so every time there is a new source of stress, old problems re-emerge.

We've been very lucky with a brilliantly supportive school and SENCO, who have never needed a diagnosis to put in place the support our DC need, but it is very worthwhile getting that diagnosis.

Until then, trust your instincts. There's no harm in parenting them as though they do have ASD - it just means being a bit more careful to make sure their anxieties are acknowledged, which is good parenting anyway.

Feel free to PM me if you want - I come from a whole family of schoolphobes, so I'm very sympathetic to this whole side of SEN issues.

LightTripper Mon 25-Mar-19 14:32:39

Funny they do sound alike!

Other things to try: any kind of ritual or other thing she can focus on/do to get her through the transition. Maybe you can talk about it together and come up with something? We use a "hug button" but my DD is younger so your DD may not fancy that. I know some autistic kids go into the class room and help the teacher set up first thing, so they aren't just milling about/in the mellee of other kids screeching and racing around. Or she might like some of the grounding techniques if she finds panic rising at that time of day (e.g.

It does sound like assessments could be a good idea, but there is lots you can do before then - especially if the school are supportive (e.g. to thinking more about the sensory environment: sounds, lights - e.g. does DD sit looking into glare - predictability, having a quiet space to "get away" if needed, social supports - e.g. lunchtime clubs that are less overwhelming like a coding club, puzzle club, writing club, something like that) but even if they're not hopefully there are things you can work on with your DD as a team to make the transition easier.

Langrish Mon 25-Mar-19 12:23:17

Jessica: No I haven’t read them yet, but I will, thanks.
I suppose it’s entirely subjective and personal. we’ve been lucky, ours have done pretty well in the system as it stands so my views are obviously coloured by that. The only issues we’ve ever had (over 23 years in the system) have been around so called “reforms”, the latest being our son as a guinea pig in the new IGCSE marking scheme, which half of the school staff still don’t seem to quite understand! So I suppose I’m wary of “reforms” based on that.
Our daughter, adult now, struggled with anxiety and was helped with CBT but none of us believe that was anything to do with School. Maybe because she was academically able, it actually seemed to gave her a positive focus and structure.
Anyway, I do appreciate that everyone’s circumstance is different and some others really struggle and I don’t know what the answer is for the OP in Her distressing situation. But people suggesting homeschooling seems too drastic to me.

Babygrey7 Mon 25-Mar-19 12:23:00

I feel for you OP

My oldest just could not get on with school, age 5-10, he struggled academically and socially, was on 3 different IEPs and tesed for dyslexia.

Youngest had to be peeled off me and some days I would hear him cry long after I dropped him off(hovering by the school gates, feeling like a crap mumsad)

With the youngest, I was lucky that in y1 the teacher took charge and said this can't continue. We agreed a very structured/managed drop off every day, and that sorted it.

My oldest just was not ready for school until he was about 10, then he suddenly clicked and caught up (academically and socially) with the rest of his year group Just like that.

Both are bog standard teens now at the local comp grin

Can you ask the teachers for serious help with a managed drop-off?

M3lon Mon 25-Mar-19 12:11:42

I also agree with jessica that you have to change and update a system that is shown to be causing harm.

Its worth bearing in mind that the school system people are defending is so bad at meeting the requirements of individual children that the average outcome actually depends on what month your child was born in.

That's not a mostly okay system that happens to not cope well with a tiny minority of outliers, that's a system that can't cope with the astonishing information that just turn 5 yos aren't as developed on average as nearly 6 yos. Rocket science it ain't!

M3lon Mon 25-Mar-19 12:08:03

I teach the students emerging from the school system at university level and we are seeing an apocalyptic increase in mental health problems, exam melt downs and a massive decrease in any sign that students want to learn for the sake of learning anymore.

I wouldn't want my child exposed to such a toxic environment, especially for girls, who can expect to be harassed and subjected to misogynistic language day in day out. Which is why we home educate.

JessicaWakefieldSVH Mon 25-Mar-19 12:07:35


I doubt anybody would suggest to do away with exams entirely. I’m certainly not. As for ‘changing the entire system’, well systems are altered and changed with time in response to our changing world. A good system should at least. If most schools were doing an effective job, and had the support and funds needed to do that, we would not have this problem- did you read the links inc the one with concerns from teachers? It’s teacher’s that are leading this conversation. It isn’t just ‘some’ struggling, it’s significant. Rather than have students struggling through life, I think we owe it to them to provide a system that adapts to their needs and changes if significant damage is witnessed. I can’t really understand why anyone would argue change is needed in light of what teachers and experts in mental health are saying.

FuckertyBoo Mon 25-Mar-19 12:06:58

Ah this sounds really tough op.

Like you, if my dd hated school I wouldn’t hesitate to pull her out, but it’s so difficult when they seem to like it when they get there, but just hate the drop off. I have no idea what to suggest, but I really do sympathise.

I’d do HE in a heartbeat if I thought it was the best thing for our family. There’s a lot a don’t like about the education system and a few friends and relatives are / were teachers. They can be very critical of our education system and one of them said if she had her children now (she’s 70) she would home educate.

Langrish Mon 25-Mar-19 12:01:04

Jessica: Our youngest son is in IGCSE term now. Yes, of course there’s a degree of stress, as there is throughout life, but a good school helps it’s students to manage that and the majority do. There will always be some who can’t cope with it so well, who may go on not to cope with the stresses of life generally, and perhaps more specialised, targeted help for them is a better approach than changing the entire system?

Because I’m not sure what the alternative to exams at the end of their years of studying would be? There has to be some way of assessing their attainment at various stages during their education and I can’t see what else would do this as efficiently as exams?

JessicaWakefieldSVH Mon 25-Mar-19 11:53:43

without doubt at least partially responsible for the huge increase and is certainly not just a force for good.

Absolutely agreed. But telling an adult to google for info, articles and studies, regarding a topic that’s been widely discussed, doesn’t really have anything to do with children and social media, and internet porn dangers.

JessicaWakefieldSVH Mon 25-Mar-19 11:51:55

For those unable or unwilling to use google and are derailing the point of the OP, here’s something to start you off:

There are a number possible issues identified as contributing factors, nobody suggests it is just our education system but it is part of the puzzle and exam stress is cited. Considering children spend most of their time at school, it shouldn’t be controversial to discuss its impact. Teachers themselves raise it as a factor.

Langrish Mon 25-Mar-19 11:51:31

Yes, quite right, I put that badly, rebuke accepted grin: point is though that the social media AND the internet (with such easy access to porn etc.) is without doubt at least partially responsible for the huge increase and is certainly not just a force for good.

Sockmonster23 Mon 25-Mar-19 11:47:34

The whole state school system needs remodelling in the UK. Totally agree but HE is fantastic and working for many people now. Your child's mental health is very important. School system here needs a shake up.

JessicaWakefieldSVH Mon 25-Mar-19 11:44:08

Many experts suggest that for teens in particular, Google is quite the opposite

We’re all adults here, what experts actually say is social media can be a contributing factor in anxiety, not ‘google’.

Langrish Mon 25-Mar-19 11:43:15

“Google is your friend”

Many experts suggest that for teens in particular, Google is quite the opposite and the internet a much more likely explanation for the perceived increase in mental health issues than the school system, which works pretty well for the majority.

JessicaWakefieldSVH Mon 25-Mar-19 11:43:15

Can you imagine if someone approached Cochrane with a supposition that there are studies which state the schooling system is damaging children’s mental health and their response was to google it.

It’s mumsnet! Seriously, this is very much discussed, lots of experts in the media etc if you haven’t honestly seen or head of this yet, I’m very surprised. Believe it, don’t believe it, nobody here is obliged to prove a well known fact to you.

DippyAvocado Mon 25-Mar-19 11:40:58

From the pov of a teacher who has had children who are upset at coming into school but happy once they're there, the problem has often stemmed from anxiety about being separated from their parent rather than a dislike of school as such. It's really hard to leave your child when they're upset, but if she genuinely seems happy and settled once there then I don't think you need to remove her. Do they have a specific person come out to greet her and take her in? That sometimes helps.

As for the lack of consistent seating, flexible grouping is quite widely used now but you could ask if your DD could stay in a specific seat for all lessons. That's what I do for the child with ASD in my class.

StripeyChina Mon 25-Mar-19 11:39:50

OP my eldest was like this.
We asked about an ASD assessment and were told 'a home problem'.
We went private. It cost a fortune, said NHS ASD assess needed.
We asked again about assessment and were referred to SS CP team.
Eventually, after moving , he got his NHS ASD dx at 13.

My younger child has just been referred. She 'masks' too. At home she writes notes about 'hating school' (and says why) but school 'see nothing'. But her GP referred her and we will wait and see. She is 11.5.

Good luck. The system doesn't fit all kids well. It can't.

Yabbers Mon 25-Mar-19 11:38:01

rising rates of mental illness in children.

Rising number of children treated. No evidence the numbers are higher than before, just statistics that it is recognised and treated more than it ever was. We didn’t used to think children could have mental health issues, they were just bullied them and called weird and stupid.

No evidence this is a particularly British problem. No evidence it is correlated to the British schooling system.

Google is your friend.
Yeah, that’s not how it works. If someone is going to make a claim like that, it’s up to them to support it. Can you imagine if someone approached Cochrane with a supposition that there are studies which state the schooling system is damaging children’s mental health and their response was to google it.

Ellenborough Mon 25-Mar-19 11:37:22

I would consider home schooling, but it's so hard to know whether that would be the best option.

Does you DD know this? If she knows HE exists and has heard you discuss it as a possibility then she will keep crying and whining and begging not to go in.

LadyMonicaBaddingham Mon 25-Mar-19 11:33:34

Does the school have a breakfast club? I run one at my school and have found it helpful sometimes for school refusers as it seems to be more of a 'soft' TRANSITION to the school day... Might be worth a try, especially if any of her/their friends go to the B. C.

DontCallMeCharlotte Mon 25-Mar-19 11:23:06

Is she/are they like it if anyone else takes them to school?

Ribbonsonabox Mon 25-Mar-19 11:21:50

I'd consider home schooling... some children just cannot bear the crowds and noise. Not always children with sen, sometimes just particularly sensitive or anxious natured NT children can struggle.
IMO it's better to just take them out rather than risk them having negative associations with education for the rest of their lives.

JessicaWakefieldSVH Mon 25-Mar-19 11:17:35

Of course, you have proof of that?

Yes, you must not ever read any news at all to have missed the rising rates of mental illness in children. Google is your friend.

SnowyAlpsandPeaks Mon 25-Mar-19 11:10:02

My two were always happy going to school, and honestly I don’t recall ever seeing children crying and being praised off parents. So no I don’t think the system should change.

But you DO have an option- home school, that’s what it is there for.

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