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French school traumas!

(15 Posts)
jenpet Mon 10-Jan-11 08:33:55

DS2 has been at school here for 6 years - he's in CE2 now. We've never had any problems at all. Nothing. Stupid me thought it would be the same for DS2. He's 2.5 and started PS1 after Xmas, just two mornings, and this is the second week. I can't stand it! Crying, clinging to me etc etc. I'm in shock! How can it be so different from the first time round? Should I just keep him at home with me for another year & try again? (wibble over, thanks) sad

jamaisjedors Mon 10-Jan-11 08:43:04

Why did you start him now? Seems a funny time to start school?

Certainly DS1 started when he was just 3 (full days) and with hindsight it was a bit much, he got sick a lot and was very very tired.

DS2 (January birthday) started Petite Section in September, and although he protested a bit in the first week about not seeing his nounou enough anymore, he is so much more confident etc. than DS1 was, I think being that bit older helps enormously.

It's quite unusual around here for them to take 2.5 yr olds unless the parents push for it? At that age I took DS2 to the local "halte-garderie" for a couple of mornings a week, which is much less full-on than school.

Good luck.

jenpet Mon 10-Jan-11 08:56:39

He was at home with me almost all day every day, apart from the odd trip to the tots session at the library, and I felt he was bored, and not hearing enough French, not seeing enough other children etc. The halte-garderie is massively over subscribed here too. Going around to school to pick his brother up every day, he seemed very enthusiastic about the idea, and its pretty normal at this school to stagger the starting dates, so it all seemed to make sense. I'm trying hard to convince myself sure he'll be fine - DS2 had been to nursery in the UK for a couple of days a week so was more used to the idea of not spending all his time at home I suppose. Not so much PFB but PSB!
Thanks for your reply anyway...

AuldAlliance Mon 10-Jan-11 08:58:23

2.5 is pretty young to be starting petite section, I think.

The very few kids who started at that age cried and clung when DS1 began PS, more than the bigger ones.

DS1 was 3.6 when he entered PS, as he is a March baby. He was bored at the nounou's by then, more than ready for school and even he clung a little and cried now and then over the first few weeks.

If your DS2 is just going for 2 mornings, that may paradoxically make it tougher, because he gets lots of days with you, and then there are only 2 mornings in the week when suddenly he needs to adjust to a whole other setup.

Starting in Jan may be harder, too, as lots of what is done in PS is to help kids learn the routine for life in a group; if most kids started in Sept, they'll "know" more about the rules and customs in the classroom than he does, and it may be discouraging for him. Perhaps it would easier to start at the start of the school year, when presumably the majority of kids in the class will be new, too.

If he seems really miserable and if you can keep him at home, maybe he'll be more ready in Sept.

(Disclaimer: in my town they really only take kids of 3 and over, due to lack of places in maternelle, and no one starts in Jan, so I have no experience of such a situation).

jamaisjedors Mon 10-Jan-11 09:01:31

I agree with AA (but am also in the same situation where there was no question of DS2 going earlier because of lack of places).

My neighbour's DS was 2.10 when he started and is still finding it really tough...

He also missed a couple of days at the end of last term and the start of this term and has been told by the teacher that it's like starting all over again - I suspect because he's so young.

AuldAlliance Mon 10-Jan-11 09:06:26


I also meant to say that there's no real reason why your DS2 should react in the same way as your DS1. My two are totally different in just about every way.

Maybe he liked the idea when he went to collect his brother from school, but hadn't realised what it actually involved, IYSWIM? At that age, it's hard for them to project. Glimpsing a classful of kids at pick-up time is one thing, but actually going to school is another. The morning may seem v long to him.

DS2 (21mths) always wants to stay in his big brother's classroom when we drop him off in the morning, but I'm not sure he'd actually appreciate my going along with that little plan. wink

From what I recall of the studies into starting maternelle at 2.6, they showed that it was v beneficial to children from deprived backgrounds, which was why some people were all in favour of it. For kids with parents who are teaching them the basics of social and other skills at home, there are few proven benefits really in starting school that young. (In case that makes you feel better about postponing things till Sept.)

jenpet Mon 10-Jan-11 09:07:54

Lots of good points there too AuldAlliance
We'll see how he's got on when I collect him at lunchtime, then maybe think again about leaving it until September....
His Maitresse mentioned about trying to help him fit in with the rhythem of the day too - there are 3 of them started after Christmas, and I think their aim is to try and get the older ones to help the new ones (PS1, PS2 and MS are all together with the same Maitresse)
Am going to throw myself into a housework frenzy & try not to dwell on it too much until lunchtime! Thanks again both of you,

jamaisjedors Mon 10-Jan-11 09:27:37

Both my DS were keen to go to school having done the drop-off 4 times a day with their childminder but when it came down to going EVERY DAY were less keen.

I know your DS is not going every day but it's true that it can be harder initially for them to adjust to a changing schedule.

Let us know how it went.

Weta Mon 10-Jan-11 10:16:51

Good luck with the decision - it's really tough when your child is unhappy like that.

Obviously you have to decide for yourself, but personally I'd have no qualms about taking him out and waiting till September. After all, that's when he is theoretically supposed to start and you were only doing it earlier because you thought it'd be good for him - if it turns out not to be, then don't hesitate to change it.

I think it is a very structured, demanding environment even for a 3yo - DS1 started at 2.11 and found it difficult to adjust, despite having been at the halte-garderie 4 mornings a week before that.

jenpet Mon 10-Jan-11 12:32:02

Thank you all for your support this morning.

I had a good chat with his teacher when I went to pick him up. She feels it would be better to try and continue, and he does calm down quite quickly once I've left. I've told her I don't want him to be so unhappy, and she is quite sympathetic, so we've agreed to try a few more sessions for now, and we'll take it from there.

All that then he asked for a yogurt "rouge" at lunchtime, and asked to go back with his brother this afternoon confused

jamaisjedors Mon 10-Jan-11 12:54:23

definitely confused isn't it?!

FWIW, because most French people seem to think it's good to start school as early as possible, it's not surprising that she thinks it would be better to continue.

When I asked DS1's teacher if we could drop to 1/2 days after Xmas when he had caught bug after bug (in PS), she was horrified and said that she could see a huge difference in the "socialisation" of the children who came 1/2 days and those who came full days.

I allowed myself to be convinced because I work full-time and I was anxious about how shy DS1 was/is.

With hindsight that argument is rubbish, DS2 who started school 10 months later than DS1 iyswim, is confident and has loads of friends.

Hope the next day goes better.

GoldFrakkincenseAndMyrrh Mon 10-Jan-11 13:02:56

If you're not happy then do take him out. IMO pushing children to start school early can put them off for life. He is still very young.

BUT if he want to go back to school in the afternoons then maybe it's just the change in routine and having to adapt to 'communal life' that's not going down so well.

From the other side of the fence children often fuss, scream and cling when parent drop them off, then 10 minutes later they're happy as larry. Then the minute their parents arrive and they seem them they start crying again. Even when they're older they can be quite clingy ('I don't want you to go, Muumy, can you stay with me/take me home') but it turns out they don't have a problem with school, just a preference for being with Mummy.

Maybe he thought he'd be at school with his brother (as in in the same class) and the shock of not knowing anyone has thrown him a bit?

jenpet Mon 10-Jan-11 13:07:06

Thank you.

I think (as with most things!) we have to learn to trust our instincts a bit.

With your DS1 I can't see how it makes any difference at all if he does half days?! Surely your judgement on what your own child needs is a bit more accurate than hers? Plus I can't really see how he would benefit much from "socialisation" when they're asleep half the afternoon hmm

DH is in the UK until the weekend, and I think DS2 misses him quite a bit & I probably try and overcompensate too...

BriocheDoree Mon 10-Jan-11 13:53:53

DS is three and started last September. It's been a real struggle. Oddly enough I thought he would be fine as his older sister has special needs and I thought she would be the one to find it difficult, but she was absolutely fine for the first couple of years of maternelle (last year was a different story, but she started special school this year and is flourishing). I think that my DS is rather young for his age, and very much a homebody: happy enough to have kids over to play but would rather do his own thing than follow the structure at school. We ended up getting him "checked out" because of his sister's issues. Turns out he is fine, just a bit daunted by a class full of kids who speak French much better than him, and would prefer to be home playing with his toys than in school. Hardly that unusual!! They actually encourage half days here as the school is so full, but DS goes three full days and one half day as that's what fits in with my schedule.

jamaisjedors Mon 10-Jan-11 14:29:26

You're right jenpet, I wish I had trusted myself a bit more then, but I was unsure and willing to be swayed by the teacher.

DS1 is now in CP, and really those half-days would have made no difference to his "education" but I was a little insecure about him being bilingual and so many people seemed worried he would fall behind.

And as you say, they sleep all afternoon anyway (which he did right through MS too, he obviously needed it).

I know better nowadays grin!

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