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Reception child "extremely distressed" in state school, please help!

(69 Posts)
finnmum Wed 19-Sep-12 14:25:19

Hi, I know it's still early days -she started there six days ago- but I feel I've made a big mistake by putting summer born DD2 to a state school with 31 class mates. She was in full time independent pre-school last academic year and loved it from the day one. Then we moved (and money was running outsmile and found this 'outstanding' state school nearby. DD1 at Y3 loves it and everyone I have ever spoken to -parents, children and staff- are nice, it just looks like DD2 cannot cope with the class size.
On the day DD1 started last week she was so happy to go the 'big school', now she is dreading it. In the previous school the teacher shook hands and said good morning to the children at the door and everything seemed organised, now we drop them in the class room full of children running around (what happened to using 'walking legs' indoors?) and the teacher puts a name tack on their cardigans without even making an eye contact. I have never seen DD2 so profoundly sad that she has been these few days, stoic by nature she walks to the school with a wobbly lower lip, says goodbye to me and when I pick her up at 12pm (until next week when she is supposed to be full time omg) she just clings to me and has also stopped talking at home like she used to (I've lost my chatter boxsmile. Last night she went and hit her dad when he came home from work, she has never ever been aggressive to anyone.
Today the teacher took me aside and said DD1 was "extremely distressed" the whole time and also that she was the only one who was sad. I didn't know what to say, felt guilty that it was my child who was not settling, and also guilty that I couldn't provide that child the great start DD2 got in the private sector. I know it's the lack of resources but the class room looks like a jungle, the poor teacher is telling kids (boys that are a head taller than DD2) off throwing toys, no way there is time for positive encouragement or introducing children to each other so they could work together. If I had to be in that room for seven hours I'd go insane.
Sorry ladies this was long but I don't know what to do and there is no better people than you to give me some advice. Would you wait and if she doesn't settle just pull her out and keep her home (desperate optionsmile. Are the Reception classes normally this wild or could there be more structure with so many little ones? Any teachers out there to give me advice what I could do to help? I'm so thankful for any advice!

cansu Wed 19-Sep-12 14:44:30

I have known reception to be noisy but not wild! I would give it a bit longer before you make any decisions. Maybe drop off time is particularly noisy but it settles down when all the parents have left and the teacher can get them all calm. It is also early days particularly as your dd is so young for the year group. If it doesnt improve maybe you could look at a smaller, quieter class for your dd?

MrsMiniversCharlady Wed 19-Sep-12 14:47:10

There are 32 in her class?! I thought that legally you could only have a maximum of 30 in a KS1 class or has the law changed?

ReallyTired Wed 19-Sep-12 14:50:09

It it a few weeks. No reception classes shouldn't be this wild.

I don't think you should pull your daughter out. Maybe you should consider half days.

dixiechick1975 Wed 19-Sep-12 16:30:22

Could you be seeing it as worse than it is as you have made a different choice for DD2 to DD1.

If you are expecting it to be like the class DD1 was in a private school it wont be. 31 children will make more noise than 15 for a start.

Can you meet with the teacher and discuss how you can work together to settle DD2. Half days or perhaphs defer the place until the summer term and put her back in nursery?

take3 Wed 19-Sep-12 18:51:05

It is all very well the teacher saying she is 'extremely distressed', but what is she actually doing about it?
To be honest, you are the only person who know what is best for your daughter... and this reception class sounds like it is not for her. Having said that, I would probably give it a little bit longer but I would be very disappointed that the school has not put something in place to help her settle.
I would ask them what they are doing to help.... and if the answer is nothing, then I would seriously consider taking her out and trying again in the summer term. There is so much to be gained from being at home with mummy.

MisForMumNotMaid Wed 19-Sep-12 19:01:21

She legally doesn't need to be in full time school till she's 5. If you don't feel she's ready it is your call, you always have that option to pull her.

When DS started I wasn't happy, he was having behavioural problems and so after a few weeks I made the decision not to send him 5 days. The head teacher and his teacher were very good about it the senco took time to adjust to the idea. She said he was badly behaved and needed discipline, he is now diagnosed with ASD. It was the noise and disorganisation that distressed him he really try's to be a very compliant child.

My point is as a parent you are closest to your child and in a good position to judge what's best. Do you think the lashing out could be that she is exhausted?

Another parent I know had her son doing Monday, Wednesday, Friday in school the first year as he was too tired by a full week. He still made good friends, got party invites etc and was a happier child than when he was tired.

cheesymashedpotatoes Wed 19-Sep-12 19:08:03

Just to say that I also think it may be worth deferring until January and then going part time. It's true that the class will have settled and some of the kids will have made friends then - but it will also be calmer and more organised and in my experience (of deferring) it was not hard to fit in with the other kids... relationships are fluid at that age. If you defer you could also see if there are a few amenable mums in your class who might be willing to have your child play with yours a few timesso that she knows some of the kids in the class when she starts - I did this, and the other mums were very amenable.

cheesymashedpotatoes Wed 19-Sep-12 19:09:40

Mine went part time for the remainder of reception after deferringand it made zero negative impact: the teacher said it was absolutely fine and did not affect work/friendships etc.

neverquitesure Wed 19-Sep-12 19:09:43

It sounds horrible (the situation that is, not necessarily the school)

DS has just started the nursery year of our local state primary. There are only 26 children but they are a year younger and drop offs are very calm and the room is always very tidy and orderly when I arrive to collect him. There is one boy (one of the younger ones) who is not settling and the teacher suggested a late drop off 10 minutes after the other children arrive. This way he is guaranteed one on one time with either the teacher or teaching assistant.

Incidentally, when I drop DS off he is greeted enthusiastically by name and asked about things that matter to him (e.g. he likes to make up stories about what his favorite teddy gets up to when he is not there and so they asked him about this yesterday). I would be worried if they are not engaging with your daughter and raise this as a concern with them.

cheesymashedpotatoes Wed 19-Sep-12 19:11:44

sorry by the way. must be horrible for you.

TudorJess Wed 19-Sep-12 19:20:44

I think your concerns are valid, although it's not to do with state vs. private as there are certainly reception classes which are calmer and more productive than what you seem to be describing.

Have you read the OFSTED report where the school was judged "outstanding?" What did they say about reception but also the other school years? How long has this teacher been at the school?

LeFreak Wed 19-Sep-12 19:31:17

DDs reception class was very similar and it didn't really improve as the year went on.

There were about 45 children in one room as the nursery and reception classes were mixed for a large part of the day, although they did split into groups for activities with their respective teachers.

There was very little structure or organisation within the school day, and I think the teacher's particular teaching 'style' didn't suit my DD at all (although other children thrived, and the teacher was well liked amongst the other parents).

DD hated it. She had a complete personality change and started claiming she was too ill for school on a regular basis.

I was very worried to the point where I tried to move schools, but there were none in the area with spaces. I didn't have the option to have DD at home with me as I work, but I certainly would've taken this option if I could.

It worried me so much that DD's first school experience was negative. It started to affect her self perception - she would say she "wasn't any good at school stuff", she was "rubbish at school work" (not true) and "didn't have any friends" (also not true, but she had gone into her shell so her friendships did suffer for a period). I was worried her confidence would be permenantly knocked and this would affect her school work and social life long term sad

I would give it a little longer, but if she still doesn't settle I would pull her out and home educate until she has to be in school. Or perhaps look at other schools in the area if this would be possible, I know all schools are different another school in your area may have smaller, quieter reception classes.

Things have been soooooooooooooo much better in year one so far.

simpson Wed 19-Sep-12 20:17:37

This sounds awful..

DD started reception last Friday in a class of 74 kids (well 3 classes all in one big room) and I was worried about how wild it was going to be, but it is nothing like your DD's class (poor little thing).

I am going to go against the grain slightly and say check out other schools in your area and put her on the waiting list. If by the time she gets to the top of the waiting list and things have improved then turn it down...

Saracen Wed 19-Sep-12 23:27:38

Could it be that it is just this one particular Reception teacher who allows the classroom to get so chaotic? Are the other classes at the school better in this respect?

Perhaps your daughter just needs to come out for this one year and could then go into a calmer Y1 class next year? Same kids, but a different teacher (plus being a year older) may make all the difference.

If the school overall seems nice and your older daughter is happy there, it might make more sense to home educate your younger one for a while in hopes that she will have a happier experience there later on, rather than changing schools or requiring your distressed little one to stick it out.

holyfishnets Wed 19-Sep-12 23:49:17

Give it longer and keep her to mornings only. she doesn't legally need to be in school till the term after her 5th birthday. In the mean time aim to make play dates with a few nice looking kids there to build up some kind of friendship group. It must be really odd for her not knowing anyone.

holyfishnets Wed 19-Sep-12 23:49:55

Also get her into school first before the other kids. Much better then walking into a lively class

rrbrigi Thu 20-Sep-12 10:32:42

My son just started Reception a couple of weeks ago. He was 4 in the summer, but I decided he should stay in the school until 3 o'clock, because I was afraid that other children get picked him or something because he can leave earlier than them. Last year we had the same situation as you, he was in the nursery full time for the last month to get used to the long days.

The first week was ok for him, then I think he realized that he needs to go to this school for a long time not just for a week or something and he started to cry in the morning from the second week. After the first crying (because it was unusual for him, he never cried, except the first week in the nursery, when he was 2) I spoke to his teacher (she is very lovely) and we discussed the situation. I thought she will think silly women this is the second week what did you expect, but not, she was really helpful. We decided that one more time in the morning I go to the classroom with him and explain what the routine is (e.g.: where to put coats, bags drinking bottles) and explain that from next day he needs to do it alone, because he is a big boy. The next day I gave him kisses and let him go alone, the teacher was very nice, she was waiting for him by the door and helped him in the classroom. Since then we do not have any problem with the morning drop off. He is very proud of himself that he can go to the classroom alone. Now the teacher and I decided that from next week we say goodbye by the gate so he will have his own walk through the field to the classroom.

Teachers can help you a lot. I think it is very unusual that they do not even have eye contact with the child. Our teachers have time to speak with each child in the morning (probably because they ignore the parents in the morning and focus only the children). Children need this contact to feel comfortable and secure. Probably you should speak to the teacher to say Good morning to your daughter (even raise her hands if that is how she did in the nursery) and help her in the classroom. I think you should let her stay in the school until 3, because she gets used to it in the nursery and because at lunchtime they are having fun and the children socializing together. She won't feel so alone if she does all of these things with the other kids in the afternoon. Probably if your child’s class has a teacher assistant she can spend more time with her in the morning (saying Good morning, perhaps play a little game, or read a book) so she can forget you, the stress, the crying etc...

And also you can have a big long chat with your daughter about the school or even her sister can ask her what the problem is and talk three of you what is good in the school and what is bad. It is ok to have thinks what they do not like in the school, we have things that we do not like in our life but we need to get on with it. Every time I pick up my son I ask him what was the best thing in the school that day and what he did not like that much. Talking through bad things help children realize that the big bad things might not as big or as bad they thought.

Oh and one more very important things. I read this in here in another thread and I tried and it works. Children miss parents in the school a lot. Sometimes they cry because they would like us to be there. So every morning I and my husband give a magic kiss for my son to his hand and I tell him this is a magic kiss from mummy and daddy what you cannot wash out, but when you feel sad, alone or if you just miss us, you can look at this kiss you can feel this kiss, and you know we love you and think about you as much as you love us and we always with you in your hearth.

But definitely you have something to worry, because it is not good if she is upset for the whole day in the school.

Sorry for the long story, but I hope everything will improve very shortly.

nipitinthebud Thu 20-Sep-12 10:49:54

rrbrigi - Your kiss thing just brought a tear to my eye!!! Will try that with my DS!

lisad123 Thu 20-Sep-12 10:55:36

Personally I would go with your gut, you know her best. My dd2 has started reception and struggling but she is 5 tomorrow so no chance of keeping her him
Longer. I would pull her out and maybe try again at Easter, when they are a lot more settled.

korvonia Thu 20-Sep-12 11:33:48

it doesn't sound like a normal reception class to me. I have had experience of two (state schools). In one, the reception teacher wasn't that warm but you could still give your child to a TA; there were some boisterous boys but nothing like you describe. In the other - perfect one - there were lots of cuddles and warmth and the TAs or teachers were welcome each child and give them a job if they were reluctant to leave you.

As a poster mentioned above, though, are you sure that this is an accuragte reflection of the class or is your judgement clouded because you feel guilty? Worth considering - because if you do show that you are uncertain about leaving your dd there, she will be extra-sad in an attempt to get you to keep her at home (mine do this all the time if they notice I am wobbly).

In your case, I would make an urgent appointment with the teacher to discuss how your dd is settled in the morning. I would mention the behaviour of the boisterous boys and ask what strategies they have to keep your child safe and happy at school. I would also check the Ofsted report - what did it say about the reception in the school. And I would connect with other mums of nice girls and see if you can go to the park after school or at the weekend to foster good relations.

Depending on how the above goes, you may want to change to half-days, and I would also put your dd on the waiting list for other schools in the area.

finnmum Thu 20-Sep-12 20:56:48

Thank you ever so much everyone for your words of wisdom, my other half said he will also want to read all these messages.

FarrowAndBollock Tue 25-Sep-12 00:19:12

Would they let you stay with her to settle her for a few weeks?

EBDTeacher Tue 25-Sep-12 06:57:08

sad that they are still having to put name tags on the children this many weeks in.

dikkertjedap Tue 25-Sep-12 09:30:51

I think that EBD Teacher is right, it is odd that they still need name tags. At our school we only use them the first two days (we also have 30 plus classes).

I would set up a meeting with the teacher TBH and take it from there.

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