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feeling a bit low about my kids and friends

(114 Posts)
underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 22:34:45

Ds is 12, golden hearted, funny, very tall, and very bright. He is shy and can be sometimes socially awkward, but not always, and when he opens up, is a lovely friend and great company. DD, 8, is emotionally quite young, struggling at school, again, very kind, funny and desperate to be a loyal friend. We have made a mess of Ds's schooling - first went to a very alternative school which suited him very young but then didn't suit him at all, then switched him to tiny primary where we live in year 5, where he did well academically, but his only good friend left after a term and he struggled socially, and he is now in a brilliant prep school but only for two years [as we didn't get into a good comp in our area] where the teaching is excellent, but again he feels the odd one out socially, and he has only had a term so we are hoping things will change, but he is feeling a bit low about having no friends. DD is sometimes excluded socially at school is much happier than she used to be but we can still see a group of girls who exclude her [parties, etc] and she sort of accepts it now but it pains me to see it, and she is bright but just switches off at school, which we are very worried about, and hope to be able to afford to send her privately, but have no idea if that will help her socially. DS is very crushed at the moment, has he has got into an excellent boys school for Year 9, but didn't get into the v relaxed and indie senior school he wanted to go to, they cited a strange piece of creative writing, too much talking on trial day, and not following instructions, which he is completely baffled about - he said he found the work very easy but tried to be humble and definitely didn't talk more than anyone else - and it certainly doesn't sound like him. He got an excellent reference from current school. So worried about where to send him inYear 9, and I hate to see him feeling low, when he is such a lovely kid. Sorry, this must all sound very garbled, late night worrying! But don't know how to help them both socially, and what to do about their schooling in the long run. Any advie appreciated!

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Sun 01-Jan-17 22:48:54

The only advice i can give is that your post is very focused on where your kids have been and where they have or haven't gotten into.

I really don't think that is healthy and I hate that school model. I much prefer Scotland's- whereby everyone goes to their local school. You can go private but it's a very very small minority.

Your DC's could benefit from being at a school surrounded by their local peers, but more than anything I think they need to lay down some roots as there's been a lot of chopping and changing.

References etc should not matter at their age. I expect that they're feeling under pressure to perform and conform to the many different standards required by each institution. I would hate that for my dd. I don't think it's doing yours any favours.

underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 22:51:51

Yes agree references shouldn't matter, but sadly they do. We have kept dd in the state system the whole way through, and she has struggled very badly. I struggled badly too in the state system [did better towards the end at sixth form, but had many miserable years struggling earlier]. So I guess that affects my decisions.

underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 22:53:20

We don't do any tutoring, and didn't put ds under pressure - he was dreading going to the state comp he was allocated, so we tried another path.

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Sun 01-Jan-17 22:56:10

It's really you vs. the system at the moment then as nothing is working in your favour.

Is your career tied to the area that you live in? It sounds extreme but I really think all your children could benefit from a clean slate- somewhere where nobody knows them and they won't have the baggage of the ups and downs of their school life to hold them back?

Besides homeschooling, I can't really see any other option. I'd imagine you've spoken to the schools extensively.

underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 23:03:12

I don't think, or at least I didn't think, that ds had any baggage to carry - he has always and still does very well at school. He has just had the bad luck of being switched around due to our mistakes. DD has only been at one school so far. I would hope there would be nothing about them 'baggage' wise which would affect their school lives.

underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 23:05:01

I'd be sad to leave our area and does seem extreme, lots of upheaval. But who knows.

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Sun 01-Jan-17 23:06:57

Re: baggage I perhaps didn't explain very well. Theoretically could it be that your DC's social issues have been compounded by the chop and change etc?

For me their 'baggage' is not their educational attainment but rather their feelings of not fitting in etc.

underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 23:11:41

Yes I think that is true. But leaving the area and starting again will be even more of a chop and change, that is my worry. I think the school changing thing has been very hard for him. But, it is also a bit of bad luck, for example, he did have a good friend at the state primary we moved him to, who moved soon after [parents needed to buy in different area]. So a mix of things really. Just want to make sure that next time we choose a school we get it right for them - so probably yes I am v focused on that. And as I said I had a miserable time at state school so probably affects my decisions.

Gruach Sun 01-Jan-17 23:20:41

I am trying to discern some clue in your username OP.

Plenty of children have moved school an equal nmber of times to your DS - without their parent(s) feeling they themselves have messed up.

Tentatively ... I have an impression of you seeking something that might be the opposite of whatever was unsatisfactory in your own school life. Something you thought might exist at the "relaxed" independent school. Which doesn't sound all that relaxed from the feedback they gave ...

Hmm. Not sure what to say ...

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Sun 01-Jan-17 23:30:28

It does come across a bit as seeking a holy grail (that quite possibly doesn't exist.)

Don't be hard on yourself OP as we all want to relieve our DC's of any hardships that we experienced as children, but perhaps you're overinvested?

underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 23:35:37

Yes I am sure that is all true! But what do I do now? Have persevered with dd's school - she is academically doing very poorly, and I feel we have exhausted possibilities for help at current school. She has friends outside school, but there is this exclusion thing going on in the school, and dh sees it too - it isn't just emotional over investment on my part.

As for ds, really not sure what to do now. Feel we must take the opportunity he has now to stay at current prep school till year 9, but just hope he can find some way of fitting in socially. I am trying not to project.

The 'relaxed' school feedback was very odd, I must say.

happygardening Sun 01-Jan-17 23:37:28

It's ghastly to see our children low especially when you feel so helpless to help. IME (DS went to boarding prep from age 7) it's not always easy to start yr 7 in a prep, especially if it's a small one (DS2 has 35 children in his year in three classes), often friendship groups are very well established by now and new children can find it hard to get into them. Boys can also be inconsiderate at 12/13 yrs old they dont mean to exclude others or cause upset but do, I used to know a deputy head of a boys prep and he said boys sometimes unintentionally step over the line between kind and unkind considerate and inconsiderate and sometimes this needs to be pointed out to them without making a really big thing out of it. Secondly yr 7 is quite pressured at preps its often much more serious that the the preceding years pupils are now thinking about which school, CE, some will be pre tested in yr 7, possible scholarships etc and ultimately the end is in sight. Does he play sport, or do an extra curricular activity? Is it a boarding prep if yes could he at the very least board a couple of times a week? He needs to find some way in to established friendship groups. Can the school help? Have you raised your concerns with someone? Can you invite someone from his class over for tea or something similiar
Thirdly if he or you don't like the school he has a place at for Year 9 can you not find him another school. What does you current head say? Can he recommend somewhere else? Theres still time for many especially if you'd consider boarding. Of course it's frustrating and upsetting that your DS didn't get a place a the school you wanted, ultimately if it's a competitive entry some will be disappointed and he probably didn't do anything very wrong the school just had to choose X number of pupils from Y number of entries, most children are so well prepared now by their Preps it must be exceedingly difficult to choose and it's inevitable that some strong candidates will fail to get a place.
Move on analysing why he didn't get in us unlikely to help, in fact coukd knock his confidence, be positive he has been offered a place at X so either be pleased and stick with it, and let him see you really believe it's the right place for him or find an alternative that you think will be more suitable.

PhilODox Sun 01-Jan-17 23:40:00

You said that the primary (DD's only school?) was very small- this can be an issue for her, as she simply hasn't got a large enough pool to choose friends from. Going to a state secondary rather than independent may help her more, as likely there will be larger numbers there (not always the case of course, I don't know which schools you mean).

I take the view that the school should be right for the child, so for each of my children I'm looking at different schools. Do you have any decent options for her next step? Is she Y4 now? Could you possibly afford some one-to-one for her to boost her academically? Have school suggested there's any issues?

PhilODox Sun 01-Jan-17 23:43:48

Sorry, to elaborate, I mean have school suggested there's a learning need such as dyslexia? I'm just wondering what school think are the reasons for her lack of academic progress, and whether that existed before the friendship issues started?

underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 23:46:27

happygardening - unfortunately not boarding. I think it is pretty much as you describe, just 12 yr old boys being 12 yr old boys - v small cohort, they are lovely boys, he just can't or hasn't yet clicked [he says they all like fifa and he hates football, he has never done rugby before but doing v well now so hopefully that might help]. He is v old for his year too [september born]. I have been praising him for getting into excellent senior school like mad but he is v hard on himself [wonder where he gets it from]. I feel he might need a co-ed school as he seems to feel more comfortable in an urban and co ed environment. But don't want to lose chance of excellent opportunity he has at moment. Just he is a bit worried about how formal it all is going to be.

underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 23:48:29

PhilOdox - have had numerous convos with school about dd's progress. They have said not SN [I feel she may have a subtle one] and that she doesn't concentrate in class. She can be quite stubborn and doesn't always listen. She likes her current teacher which helps. But I worry there is a collective view of her as 'difficult' and 'different' which in a small school, gets reinforced and justified in some way. She is a darling to her friends outside school and very kind.

underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 23:50:37

yes we must get some one on one tutoring for dd PhilODox. But socially I am still worried for her.

PhilODox Sun 01-Jan-17 23:50:52

I am wondering about something such as dyspraxia or a sensory processing issue that makes learning in a classroom more difficult for her.

PhilODox Sun 01-Jan-17 23:51:34

blush So sorry- caught caps lock, not shouting! thanks

underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 23:51:49

and happygardening i have asked him who I can invite over and he refuses, he is panicking as feels so distant from them all currently.

Gruach Sun 01-Jan-17 23:52:13

but just hope he can find some way of fitting in socially.

Or you could look at it another way ... Be pleased that he's currently at a "brilliant" prep and refuse to agonize over his social status. Partly because he's only been there a term - and partly because it's not compulsory to be exactly like everyone else. Why should he have to change to "fit in"? Better to be himself and allow others to gradually find what they like in him.

PhilODox Sun 01-Jan-17 23:52:57

So, she has friends outside school? That's good for her wellbeing and self-esteem. What have school put in place so far to support her learning?

underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 23:52:57

Yes, I think it is a sensory processing issue. I must get her an assessment I think. She is great at learning at home, and obviously bright. But she seems to have problems retaining stuff we have learned - I don't know if this is just the worry she associates with learning now.

underdogtown Sun 01-Jan-17 23:53:50

um, well, she is in the 'bottom' group for comprehension, though her reading is v good and she is v imaginative. She has had some one on one help with her maths, but not sure if she is getting that now. They are a bit defensive about it all.

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