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School Phobia/Refusal!?

(13 Posts)
Lids31 Wed 26-Sep-12 09:29:04

Hi All,
I would really welcome some advice please! My 5 year old son has always had separation anxiety and has never liked going to school. But since going back after the summer holidays he is even worse! From the moment he opens his eyes in the morning he is distressed and anxious. Then its a battle to get him dressed/in the car/out of the car/into school.....he cries, screams, kicks, shakes, lies on the pavement....its awful! The school have been no help whatsoever! I swear they think its me being 'too soft' If i do manage to get him into school, then a teacher will come along and literally yank him from me and tell me to go!
He is a very bright boy (he could read before he even started school) and he wants to learn, he just hates the school environment - the noisy kids, the teachers who shout etc.....I am seriously considering home schooling him, but i don't want to fail him! Has anyone else had a similar experience?

FionaJNicholson Wed 26-Sep-12 10:13:37


Some families undoubtedly do get into home education because their child has had major problems with school but others - such as my family - just think it will be good to do it ourselves and not have anyone else telling us what to do.

There are over 20,000 children "on the books" as home educated in England, and as someone said at the Select Committee recently, that's just the ones they know about.

I guess what I'm saying don't need to wait till school is unbearably bad before you go for home education. And you don't need to home ed for ever, if you don't want. You can just give him a break from the stress of school.

As for being "too soft" by not forcibly compelling a person to do something which terrifies and appals them...what's the evidence that "being hard" is good? You don't get children to build emotional resilience by ramming them into aversive situations.

Lids31 Wed 26-Sep-12 11:54:42

Thanks for your reply. Again, he wouldn't go to school today, and after yesterday, I didn't want to put him through the stress of being pulled away from me again. So far we have had a lovely morning: reading and writing, reading and discussing a childrens science book - 'all about germs'! Doing some educational maths games online....I am actually feeling more confident in my abilities to just 'go for it'!

jomidmum Wed 26-Sep-12 15:18:47

Hi, We had a similar situation to yourself......but we waited until half way through year 3 to home educate. I wish we'd done it sooner. Our daughter transformed overnight; anxiety and tearfulness just vanished. Now I have both our children at home, and we all love it!
If you decide to home educate, the decision isn't final if it doesn't work out.....although it sounds like it probably would smile

FionaJNicholson Wed 26-Sep-12 15:46:35

Obviously I am talking to a self-selected sample but...over the years I've never heard anyone say "I do wish we'd kept him/her in school longer"

ommmward Wed 26-Sep-12 18:02:25

listen to your instinct.

that's all smile

(and that almost certainly means you'll end up HEing, at least for now)

ToffeeWhirl Wed 26-Sep-12 18:08:33

I agree with both the above posters. I waited until Year 6 to pull DS1 out, then tried sending him to secondary (didn't work at all) and now he is home educated full time. With the benefit of hindsight, I would have done it much earlier, but DS1 had good and bad years so it was difficult to know what to do and all the professionals and family were telling me he had to go to school. He is now happily being home educated and I am enjoying it immensely.

If your son is that miserable at school and the school are being so incompetent and unhelpful in dealing with it, I would take him out of school for the moment. As Fiona says, it doesn't have to be for ever if you don't want it to be.

Lovely to hear that you've had such a good day together today smile.

Saracen Wed 26-Sep-12 22:07:50

Suppose you take your son out of school and all your fears about home education come true: suppose that your son learns less than he would at school, that he is lonely, that you find him underfoot and you get cross with each other and eventually you decide he should return to school. Would that be such a disaster? At least you would know that you tried home education and decided school was the best way forward, and that the misery of school really is essential. You would then feel there was some benefit to dragging him off to school. You would feel a renewed commitment to school.

(I don't think that is actually going to happen. I think you will like home education, that you will soon have a happy little lad who likes learning. I'm just saying, even the worst case scenario if you home ed is not very bad, so why not try it?)

On the other hand, what's the worst thing that could happen if your son continues to go to school? I guess you don't have to let your imagination run wild to know the answer to that one. You are already seeing his deep distress every day.

Just take him out.

catnipkitty Wed 26-Sep-12 22:10:52

I also agree. I waited too long to take mine out of school and regret not doing it sooner, but so glad we've done it. My girls sound like your son - they never coped with the noise, shouty teachers, hustle and bustle. They'd go in to school OK, muted and resigned but not upset, and came out pale, exhausted and often complainign of headaches. If they had got upset and crying and clinging on there's no way I could've coped with taking them in day after day.

I'd also say go with your gut instinct. Good luck!

Lids31 Thu 27-Sep-12 12:56:16

Yes, i think i should go with my gut instinct, although its so difficult when friends and family say "But he MUST go to school, he needs to socialise!" etc etc...
We spoke to the headteacher yesterday & told her that the rough approach adopted by some of her staff is unacceptable. She said that she is going to assign a TA to my son who will meet him every morning at the office and gently coax him into school. In the meantime, I still have the daily battle of getting him there in the first place! She actually agreed that school doesn't suit some children!
Think i will give HE a go, despite what others think! Like some of you have said, if it doesn't work out, at least I have tried!

viv5645 Sun 24-Mar-13 18:55:59

I joined mumsnet because I was sent a newspaper article that really hit the nail on the head and it stemmed from here. I had no idea this condition was so common. My daughter had separation anxiety and this got worse and worse. The fighting and the battle to get her into the school every morning, the fear as the holiday/weekend/day drew to an end and "How long is it till I go back to school?" . The number of strategies I tried - bribery, anger, cajoling, kindness, distractions and for her to try - lets think of ways to "trick" the worry bug. It didn't help when the school separated her from her best friend in year 1; it certainly didn't help when the head teacher at school turned to me and said "to be honest, I think this is all your fault"; it didn't help that I had work to go to three mornings a week - lots of preparation and packing all my equipment into the car with three other children to get off to school before we left. We struggled through to year three and after the half-term in October last year, I de-registered my daughter. She turned 8 shortly after and we are receiving some help with her condition, I read in an Ofsted report that it is one of the most difficult things for schools to deal with - some can but many don't because there is little known that connnects all the different presentations - no real label for the condition and therefore the condition "doesn't exist". Home ed is nice in some ways, but I have commitments to my work (I am self-employed and also part-time employed as a sessional lecturer) that prevent me from making good of this. She liked learning, is very bright, loved being in the structured school environment, but like the others who suffer, hated the chaotic times - play, dinner, going into the overwhelming, noisy place. She wants to go to school but needs a coping strategy that works or some help to deal with the unpredictable bits. So, still home ed but I can't do it justice. Any ideas?

ToffeeWhirl Sun 24-Mar-13 19:39:14

Hi viv. Am just in the middle of bedtimes here, but will try to pop back and post later as this is something I have been through myself. We deregistered DS1 (then 12) after his first term at secondary last year.

ToffeeWhirl Sun 24-Mar-13 23:34:54

What you describe sounds very familiar to me. I had all that with my DS1 and also went through everything you describe - cajoling, distracting, etc.

I can believe, sadly, that you had such an appalling thing said to you as "this is all your fault". What a dreadful thing to say and what astonishing lack of empathy and understanding it shows.

When you say your DD liked the structure of the school environment, but hated the chaotic, noisy bits, it does make me think of ASD, simply because this is something we had to consider for DS. Have you looked into this possibility at all? (Hope you don't mind me mentioning it).

What is it that your DD misses about school? My son said he missed school recently, but it turned out he wanted more company with children of his own age, not school itself. We are working on this.

Why do you think you are not doing home ed justice? At eight, your DD does not have to revise for GCSEs, so there doesn't need to be any pressure. Maybe you feel as if you should be teaching her for more time or in more depth? From my experience, and that of others on this board, home-educated children can get more done in less time than schooled children.

If your DD would prefer more structured teaching and you need more time to work yourself, maybe an internet school would help? I have seen Briteschool discussed here for primary-age children.

Must go to bed <yawns>, but am happy to help if you have any more questions.

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