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Been ticked off by headmistress

(29 Posts)
marytuda Fri 24-Jun-11 21:40:48

because my DS has dropped out of preschool. He simply refuses to go, has done so now for weeks. I have been in constant contact with his key worker but she has only just broken the news to the head. Today I was hauled before her and required to account for myself.
As if it was my choice! On the one hand his kw insists I do not force him, on the other hand the head insists he attend again from next week. I nodded obediently, said I would try, knowing full well the only way I will get him there again is by using brute force. Bribes do not work. It is a good preschool and he was fine there for two terms, but now he really really does not want to go.
Headmistress says: a) I've relinquished control to DS, letting him decide whether or not to go b) I'm setting up a dangerous precedent for school c) & if you think I'm being hard on you, just wait and see how they react to absences in school proper. All mixed up with suitable "Oh I know it's hard" and "We're on your side, really" and "Thank you SO much for coming to see us," but still no disguising the giste of her message.
Worth pointing out that she doesn't know my child as individual. Key worker does, of course.
But kw, partly maybe because of prolonged absence of her own through illness, has not managed to connect to DS. He didn't talk to her or anyone, much, even when he was quite happy to go. He made no friends - that for sure would make all the difference.
He has, on the other hand, become passionately attached to two girls in our street aged 7 & 8, completely off own bat. He forms similar passionate attachments in playgrounds. I know he wants to make friends.
I have a sense here that I may have let him down - I've never managed to do playdates & am not part of any mothers' circle (being very shy, very old, very middle-class but very poor, I suppose). I don't mind for myself - there's always mumsnet! - but am sorry for the way inevitably it impacts on DS.
Now I'm caught in one of those parenting binds when instinct fails & you know there is any amount of conflicting advice out there. What do you do if your child hates/refuses school - at any age? Say "Tough. It's the law" or immediately consider home schooling? (Or private school, if you can afford it.) Any thoughts/experiences gratefully received.

Roo83 Fri 24-Jun-11 22:31:28

Is he due to start school in September or is he going back to preschool? When you say he refuses to go, does he say it, or sit on the floor and refuse to move? I only ask because my ds will often say he doesn't want to go to preschool, but once we are on the way he's fine and goes in quite happily! Has the headmistress given any indication what they will do to help him? Whatever you do don't blame yourself....I'm sure not having playdates etc. won't have made any difference, as you say initially he was fine.

needtoexercise Sat 25-Jun-11 12:54:40

Hi marytuda, you are the parent and you do seem to sound like your son is in charge! I think the Head made some good points. You need to talk positively about pre school to your son and remember you're in charge. I'm a teacher and I've seen these situations escalate into non attendance at school. What did the Head suggest to encourage your son to go? Can you attend too to support him?

DeWe Sat 25-Jun-11 17:57:29

Another vote for the head making good points. What are you going to do when he says he doesn't want to go to school?
Often they say they don't want to go, but love it once they're there.

Vroomfondel Sat 25-Jun-11 18:02:57

as someone who spent 8 years dragging DD to school screaming and having to be peeled off me every single day, I'd say listen to your DS. He doesn't want to go. Find somewhere he does want to go. Find a different pre-school. or a different activity group.

Has DS said why he doesn't want to go? (DD never could. She could only say she hated it and didn't want to go.)

pinkytheshrinky Sat 25-Jun-11 18:04:59

The Head is right and you need to sort your son out pronto. He is a pre school child - he does not decide what he does, that is his parents role. It matters now whether she knows him personally - she has been a teacher for a long time and she has seen it all before.

You really need to get a grip of this situation because you are setting very dangerous precedents for school.

Slambang Sat 25-Jun-11 18:18:53

Does he have SN of some sort?

I'm just asking as I don't want to jump to any conclusions.

Al0uiseG Sat 25-Jun-11 18:21:58

It's pre school! It's not a legal requirement. We start children at school far too early in this country, when does he start in reception? Could you find a play group or somewhere that he would prefer going to instead?

mumtoted Sat 25-Jun-11 18:25:35

How old is he?

NoCarbsBeforeMarbs Sat 25-Jun-11 18:38:55

What Al0uiseG said.

DD cried, cried and cried some more when I took her to preschool.
When I picked her up, her cheeks were still wet, so she definitely wasn't fine after I'd gone.

I took her out, and started taking her to a small playgroup instead (just a couple of months before she started infants)

She settled in really well there, and when she started school there were no tears, nothing- she's 12 now, and still enjoys school (sort of!) and has mostly 100% attendance every term.

Your DS is clearly unhappy there, for whatever reason.
It doesn't mean he won't settle somewhere else.

CQrns1lk Sat 25-Jun-11 18:45:39

find a different pre-school or just do something else till he starts school. Head is trotting out the usual line. Is the pre-school attached to the school he will go to?

aliceliddell Sat 25-Jun-11 18:49:22

Try another playgroup? It won't get better by forcing him, you'll make it worse IMO (dd school refuser at 2 schools, took her out and home ed for 9 mths, then got place at great primary that didn't pressurise her and lo! she was cured!) No legal requirement until age 5, then required to educate, not attend school. But like you, we thought social side was important. Good luck!

Octaviapink Sat 25-Jun-11 18:51:12

He may just be too young to cope with it - if it's preschool then he's got a lot of development time to go before he has to go to school. I wouldn't force my dd to go to a school if she hated it - I'd look at other options too.

TheOriginalFAB Sat 25-Jun-11 18:54:24

My dd went to playschool at 2 1/2. It was too young in retrospect and as soon I became of a problem I removed her. She then went to nursery and again I moved her as there were too many changes with the staff. She was then home with me for 5 months. She started school at 4 years and 1 month and hasn't had a single problem. My point being you are not setting a precedent by agreeing to him not going to preschool. That is optional. Worry about getting him to school if there is a problem.

veritythebrave Sat 25-Jun-11 18:58:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

marytuda Sun 26-Jun-11 00:01:53

Thanks everyone some polarized views as I suspected! For the record DS is 4 in August, due to start primary (as the youngest) next Sept. No, not at the preschool, which is a Sure Start standalone one with a great reputation esp for underprivileged/SEN kids, but small local community school.
What he says: "it's boring me", "it's too noisy" "it's making me sick." Basically I think that thanks to our lovely older neighbours he has just discovered (he's an only child BTW) what good playmates are, and no-one at preschool qualifies. No, he's not obviously SEN. His earlier reports describe him as quiet, self-contained, independently motivated and musical; not a problem child in any way, & it has crossed my mind that this may be a problem itself in a group in which so many children ARE challenging . .
Yes, when it's time to go, he just refuses to dress/walk/move, & clings frantically to me when/if we get there. It's not a "settling in" problem; he's been at nursery p-t since 14 months, at this one since last Sept, and has been perfectly happy about it on the whole until 5 weeks ago. I would consider a different nursery but it's not worth it for these final few weeks.
While I agree that school should not be compulsory at this age, I do take seriously the school precedent argument (thanks needtoexercise for teacher's input). So think I will make another major effort next week, even though it will probably mean carrying him screaming over my shoulder the half mile up the road. The only other time DP and I did this, yes, he did apparently settle after we'd gone, but was still adamant when I picked him up that he wasn't going back.

eragon Sun 26-Jun-11 12:12:23

he needs to learn to make friends with his own age group. The older children enjoy his company and more than likely let him lead the games and give him control , as they must see him as being a 'baby'. They are enjoying mothering him iyswim.
He needs to learn to take turns, make friends , and get used to sharing adults attention with a group of other children of his own age.

i am sure that with repeated visits to per-school he will learn to form a relationship with all the other staff, not just his assigned key worker.

i think your plan to take him, and be firm with him is a very good one.

Roo83 Sun 26-Jun-11 22:34:32

You may find that after having a break over summer the problem sorts itself anyway. Summer holidays must seem like a lifetime to a 4 year old and a lot can change-he might even miss going to preschool. Make sure you enjoy the summer with him and if i were you id just wait and see once he starts school how things go.

Octaviapink Mon 27-Jun-11 11:49:25

I say ditch it for the last few weeks of term. It's not setting a precedent - he won't remember anyway - and why make him and you both miserable for nothing? Academically it doesn't matter, and everything will be different in September.

SayItLoud Mon 27-Jun-11 11:56:29

God, why bother? Unless you need to be at work while he's there (you don't mention this?) then leave him until he needs to start at school, or find a different pre-school from September. Why would you make a child go somewhere he hates, if it's not just an initial settling-in that he finds hard? He's only little, he'll be at school for years and years, just let him enjoy this time either at another pre-school/nursery or with you.

Devendra Mon 27-Jun-11 15:27:15

Listen to your son.. he is still a baby and doesnt want to go. I can't believe the harshness of the head and some people on here... kids have valid feelings too and I can't even comprehend taking my DS kicking and screaming everyday to somewhere he does not want to go. Follow your instinct.

Catsycat Mon 27-Jun-11 21:24:13

Not to scaremonger, and what I'm about to say happened about 35 years ago, but I absolutely hated the preschool I went to. I cried all the time and said I hated it, but was made to go. I had no friends there (no probs making friends when I went to school), but the main thing was I just didn't like it, and hated the lady who ran the room I was in.

One day, she took exception to me crying, locked me in the dark kitchen, and left me there screaming till I wet myself, then brought in the other children to show them how naughty I was. When my parents found out, they finally removed me, and sent me to my grandparents when my mum was at work instead. Hopefully what happened to me wouldn't happen now - it was all pre-ofsted, much bigger adult / child ratios etc.

With my grandparents I made models, did dressing up and pretend play, did pictures, went for country walks, had stories read (George Eliot anyone?) and did not miss out on anything. I was very good at school, enjoyed most of my education, and acheived very good grades at school and uni. Not going to pre school did not ruin anything for me.

Perhaps this preschool just doesn't feel right to him, and school could be completely different.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Piccadilly Wed 29-Jun-11 09:51:56

I would say too to listen to your child. I agree that it is not setting a precedent for school. BUT, if your child hated school this much, there's also something going on there which is not ok and your child would be crying out for help. They struggle communicating precisely but you're the first one who they are going to turn to and feel they can be honest with ... your son is telling you something.
I agree with just staying at home with him, having a lovely summer and then see what happens in September. But, I think every parent's first responsibility is to "represent" their child and mediate in situations where the child needs someone to strengthen their back. If the child is having trouble at preschool, the head's responsibility is to support the child and make the situation such that the child does want to go. Your job is to find out what the problem is as best you can, and take the best decision for your child. Your job is not to provide the head with convenient (quiet) behaviour...

sims2fan Wed 29-Jun-11 10:30:22

If he's quiet and independent, and likes playing calm games then preschool is probably too stressful for him. When I went to playgroup, 20 odd years ago, I didn't much like it either as there were too many children rushing around and not doing much of anything. I was never the rushing around sort, and always stuck to the craft activities and jigsaw table. I don't think I got much out of it really, and was so much happier when I started school where there were more focused activities.

I don't think nursery education is right for all children (and I say that as someone who has taught a nursery class) and I don't see the harm in not sending him for the last few weeks. Let him have a nice quiet summer with you, and focus on really 'selling' school to him ready for September.

Tgger Wed 29-Jun-11 17:01:31

The bit I'm interested in is "at this one since last Sept, and has been perfectly happy about it on the whole until 5 weeks ago. I would consider a different nursery but it's not worth it for these final few weeks. "

Can I suggest that he is tired? Or something in particular has happened to upset him?

There are two legit sides to this argument- the one that says you are the parent, you need to take charge and send the message that school is not optionals if you don't like it. There is also the "he's only 3 and why should he go somewhere that makes him feel like this".

I would probably go for the first argument, even though only 3, their memories are developed well enough to remember the context and you don't want him to think that when it suits him he doesn't need to go to school.

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