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Only child-Lack of confidence in school

(11 Posts)
Buzzybeeme Tue 21-Jun-11 12:53:00

Hello everyone. I'm brand new to MumsNet, very worried and really need some wise advice. I have no parents/or parents in law to ask for opinions as all have passed away.
My DD is 9 (Yr 5) and our only child.
She is very articulate and bright at home, but at her school she has always been classed as 'quiet.' The first time a teacher told us that at a parents evening we laughed-no way is she quiet at home!-then realised that the teacher wasn't joking.
DD is in a class of 31, made up of over 2o boys-mostly v confident and loud,(verging on cocky!) and only a few girls. The class teachers have had 'control' problems since Reception but the school will not split the class into two...lack of funds!
She hates the teachers shouting-doesn't hear it at home-she was brought up to be well mannered and polite and respectful- pity other parents didn't bother to get their children 'school-ready'!
Problems have arisen in the past about her being left out-not in the clique-all others girls in two's or threesomes and my DD seems to be forever wondering why she's on her own. Admittedly, she tries only half-heartedly to mix in, but others just don't let her. Teachers have been told but not much help.
When she started school I joined the PTA, helped at every event, volunteered to help on class trips, hoping that my participation would help her confidence and ease her acceptance with her peers. But I found myself treated the same way by the other mums-virtually ignored-just the odd grunt of acknowledgement when I tried to strike up a conversation at school gates etc. I put it down to possible shyness on their part-I'm shy myself but wanted to make an effort. But it's never got any better...bad manners? One of her classmates once marched up to me at the school gates-my DD was only 4 and a half and in Reception-and demanded to know exactly why I kissed her when I said goodbye(?!) Then she ran back to report my reply to her mother!
Though I say DD is confident, she has never agreed to join Brownies and has steadfastly refused to join the few and far between clubs at school because she 'doesn't want to/have to.'
I think its because she hates being subjected to the 'look at us all being best friends' scenario, and feeling constantly on the edge.
In the last year she's hating it even more-seems to be able to make herself vomit to try to get out of concerts, assemblies, swimming, cycling proficiency etc. but I make her do them anyway and feel like a bad mother and a witch. At her age, even though I was shy I was in every club that existed, taking part in music competitions, and a sixer at Brownies.
Help! We're encouraging but not threatening-are we too soft? Should we force her to join things? She's in Year 6 next year and we don't feel the school even knows the real 'her'.
Reading this all back, I'm sorry its so long-winded! I sound such a rubbish mum...I'm not rubbing her nose in it either with 'Well, I used to do this, I used to do that.' Nor am I suffering severe paranoia! Do other Mums get the ignoring thing? Why is it??
The school teachers don't seem to care less and don't bother to put much effort in with this class she is in.
My husband wants to move her, but we'd have to go to a private school-which is affordable, but the High School fees jump scarily and would be a real stretch- or move out of the area altogether!(catchment strictness!)
I want our DD to be all she can be-this isn't happening.
Although we do loads with her out of school, her classmates seem to live in front of playstations and TV. We are not snobs, just trying our best. Please don't think I skip round like 'SuperMum'-this reads as though I do, but I promise you I don't. Is she just always going to be on the fringe of friendships like her mother? Please can anyone help me to help her go forward with the condfidence she needs?
Thankyou. Absolutely any advice whatsoever would be appreciated and taken on board.

whomovedmychocolate Tue 21-Jun-11 12:56:13

Why don't you just transfer to a school that isn't crap?

Sorry but it sounds like she's not settled at all and it'll bugger up her entire school career if you don't act to halt these problems. Complete a CAPF form (ask your local LEA for a transfer form) and move her to another school.

It's not about snobbyness or shyness, it sounds like a bad fit with your daughter is all. Lots of kids thrive in busy environments and some don't. Just get on and move her and don't worry about it. It happens. It doesn't make you a shit mum or her a bad pupil.

And she'll come into her own confidence when she's in the right setting.

mistlethrush Tue 21-Jun-11 13:04:15

Hello Buzzy... long first post!

Sorry you're having problems with your daughter. Just a couple of comments - its not because she's an 'only' that she's lacking in confidence. I have an 'only' myself - and I am afraid to say that, despite being really quite strict, he would probably fall within your category of 'children not being school-ready' - not because he isn't ready, but because he's not very motivated at school at the moment and gets easily distracted, and is rather on the loud side, probably because he has lost some hearing in one ear due to a perforated ear drum.

What is interesting is that my son is friends with one of the quietest girls in the year - and when they play at home the amount of noise from the two of them would surprise the teachers.

It seems to me that its not necesarily the boys that are the problem - but the girls - do you do play dates? In fact, lets get over the gender differences - are there any quieter boys in the year that she might like to be friends with too?

Its very difficult with friendship matters at school, so I sympathise.

threadfairy Tue 21-Jun-11 13:46:09

I would definitely look at other schools.
Talk to your daughter, ask her she would feel about starting in a new school?
She'd have to make new friends but she wouldn't be any worse off than she is now.
I would act to get it sorted now before you get to the secondary school age.
I moved from a small middle school up north to a large comprehensive down south at the age of 11. I was totally a fish out of water. It was so hard and for a long while I hardly had any friends. I know exactly how she feels.

If your thinking about the private route I would seriously consider it.
Most schools will do a taster day to see how she likes it and gets on before they offer her a place. It's worth talking to any school about fees, perhaps you could pay monthly rather than one lump sum termly? Numbers are dropping in the private sector and I'm sure schools would be helpful.

Hope you get it sorted and she is happy again.

enidroach Tue 21-Jun-11 13:54:12

Hi Buzzy - sorry to hear about your problems, its heart breaking isn't it. I have 4 children and 2 of them have had this problem. My eldest DD when she was at school was allowed into then banished from 2 and 3somes, made fun of etc and was confused and miserable- she was a very pretty child and dressed well from normal home etc so not quite sure why (I like you did lots of volunteering,PTA etc)- I knew quite a few mums and dads but it made no difference - not their problem. It was a pretty crap unsupportive school.
I think some children really can't stand the noise and chaos and the last thing they want to do are afterschool clubs - they just need home and sanctuary. Financially we couldn't afford to move to get a better school or go private so in the end I took her out and home educated her - she went to lots of clubs and some home ed meetings - it worked for us, but she struggled with friends still as there were very few home ed girls (lots of boys)or they were home edded only short term - but she was happier and then went to secondary in year 9 and really liked school and made friends (much wider choice).
My youngest son (yr4) goes to a fantastic primary in our new city and has some friends (although the mums don't talk to me and refuse to come invites for coffee)but really dislikes school at the moment and has started to be "sick" and so has to be brought home even if we manage to get him there and is also "sick" just before birthday parties or activities. The school has been supportive and he is doing some half days and building up to full days again. He says he hates the noise and that he feels "alone" although he has friends and people ask him to play - he just wants to be at home.

Perhaps you could tackle the school again - maybe come up with a plan of action yourself and present it. Ask if your DD could be "buddied" for a while or if the school has a playground mentor scheme (older children who play with lonely kids). Ask the teacher if there is a particular girl/s your DD likes and talks to - could she be put on a table with them to encourage contact? Could you invite this girl or others round to play and make it fun - put on little craft activities etc - you may need to take a few refusals but in the end someone might come. I had to do this for my DD and hated approaching the mums but got quite thick skinned about rejections in the end. I felt it was worth it as it pleased my DD to have children to play and she got some party invites etc out of it.
Good luck - ther are archive threads about this sort of thing on MN- on a recent one someone recommended this book (I haven't read it yet) www.amazon.co.uk/Unwritten-Rules-Friendship-Strategies-Friends/dp/0316917303/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I1ZHO6G7102RNI&colid=2OG906EZSLLEX

I really hope things improve

aliceliddell Tue 21-Jun-11 14:00:07

Had exactly this with dd; it never changed until she went to a fab bog standard primary with a head with a psychology background - loads of emotional/social education. by this time dd was so freaked out Ihad to go to school with her hmm. within weeks she was happy at school, and has been ever since, including at the secondary. So my advice is - move school!

Buzzybeeme Tue 21-Jun-11 14:17:32

Whomovedmychocolate...Yes, this school is a bad fit! Thanks for info about the form for transferring, I'll discuss options with husband etc and get a form. You're right about having to act and fast-thankyou!

Mistlethrush;Sorry if you got the impression I'm over-judgemental about other people's children-the behaviour thing there has been a big issue, but not for genuine reasons like perforated ear drums.
Hope your son settles soon.
We've tried the play date thing, not much success girls-wise, but she is friends with two quieter but fun boys in the class, and has been to their parties. I agree with your common sense-pursue that route-at least the boys just 'play' without some strange girly hidden agenda.

Thanks so much.It's the contrast between home and school that is so gut-wrenching, but we know she can be so much more and that's what matters. I feel much more empowered and positive now. What a great site!
Will report back progress. Watch this space! Thanks!!

Buzzybeeme Tue 21-Jun-11 14:51:47

Wow! Popped in again and more great responses. We'll speak with her about moving. Tonight.

Interestingly, I suggested a buddy-scheme at PTA whilst DD in reception -after she began coming home with her painting of faceless little girls dressed in black, brown and purple!!! I rushed to school and the Reception teacher turned my concerns around and told me off (!) because my DD sucked her thumb! My response was to point out that DD's speech was good-she was a proper chatterbox at 1 and a half.
A week later, completely out of the blue, we were sent a letter requesting DD's attendance for an 'assessment' with a speech therapist!

We went, and the therapist was disgusted that the school had referred her, then went on to tell me she was a lovely child and had advanced speech. I knew that anyway, but I still could have cried. The therapist wrote a stinging letter to the school about time-wasting and sent us a copy!

Sorry...got side-tracked: the buddy-scheme was flatly turned down by the Head for wishy-washy reasons, despite my persistence and no support from other parents-again, not their problem.

I've tried the craft route-other parents don't seem to like it, but I do our own 'Summer-Club' with DD and her cousin who's same age. We have Harry Potter Days, beach, trains, outings etc...and they love it. I must be doing something right.
All this encouragement just goes to show I'm not just a clingy parent. I think DD would thrive with a new start. Thanks everyone!

whomovedmychocolate Tue 21-Jun-11 21:18:36

I'm glad you are feeling more confident about doing something about it - look it doesn't matter where you are right now, just work out how to get to where she needs to - remember this is the right time to be asking for a move. She only has a few more weeks. She could start at a new school in September after a nice long break and make a brand new start. Be confident, she will pick up your confidence. Good luck my dear, you are doing the right thing smile

mistlethrush Wed 22-Jun-11 07:06:19

Buzzy - smile didn't want the stereotype of onlies to be perpetuated more!

The more you say about the school, the more I agree with the option to change if you can.

Buzzybeeme Wed 22-Jun-11 09:59:08

Reading over the posts, it looks as though we've taken our eye off the ball, but I think when you're so wrapped up in family circumstances that can happen sometimes.

I very much appreciate the balanced common sense I've received here. Thanks so much. Can't think why I haven't looked at MN before!

Mistlethrush-my husband was an only and he's a great example to our daughter. She's very independent, but believes sometimes that means just getting on with stuff-even if circumstances are not so great. However, there's a difference between that and just putting up with something, so we'll talk more tonight.

We've never really had any stereotyping 'only' comments. It wasn't a decision to have only one on our part, but we have such a closeness with DD that its hard to regret the lack of siblings. She gets on well with her cousin-like a brother -and DD is usually just too busy to really notice! This school confidence thing has just been escalating so much and has been so marked lately, hence my panicky post.

I walked her to school yesterday-2nd day of cycling proficiency week- for first time in years because she was so loaded up with stuff, busy roads etc.After she suddenly vomited violently all over the pavement, her bike, book-bag,coat, herself and me, I followed her into the school toilets where she washed out her helmet, smiled sheepishly at me and said 'Stop worrying Mummy...I'm just nervous!' She did great on the bike, so she tells me...that's my girl!

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