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Reception child finds playtimes really hard

(5 Posts)
peppajay Sun 21-Oct-12 12:06:51

I have had a few issues with my son at school these last couple of weeks. He is in reception so only just started school 6 weeks ago. He enjoys school but thrives on routine and structure, and is always getting into trouble at playtime, he hates what I call free play and the school can see this. Whilst he has structure and routine in the classroom he is fine but let him loose at playtime and he runs around hitting and kicking other children there is no maliciousness in him but they say he always seems really anxcious because he doesn't know what is expected of him. They take him to time out but he doesn't mind this as he hates playtimes anyway. He hates soft play or even going to the park as there is no structure but take him to a music group or a swimming class and he absolutely loves it. They have said that they have noticed that if the morning has gone to plan and nothing has changed in the classroom he is generally calmer at playtime than if there has been a change in routine. After half term he starts doing full days and I am so worried about the playtimes because there is another 2 he has to cope with. School are being really good and helpful I can't fault them but I feel they think I am failing as a parent because of his tendency to lash out at playtimes. When he is there all day he has to undergo another change and they and myself know he is going to find it really really hard but I am worried how they are going to manage him, when he was at pre school he was the same but they had 7 workers to 25 children not 4 or 5 teachers to 100 children in the playground, and at pre school they always made sure he had a focus ie a trike to ride or a ball to kick but at school it is much more free play.

Just wondered if anybody else had had this with their child as it does seem odd not enjoying playtime!!! I hope he will get better but he has been like this for as long as I can remember and as long as things are going well and nothing changes he copes better but if anything changes or is different he seems to let his anxciousness out through free play!!

RiversideMum Sun 21-Oct-12 13:13:40

I'm trying to think myself into the position of a child like this arriving in my class. Given from what you say that he is OK during structured sessions, I think my first tack may be to think that he has had a massive amount of directed 1:1 time with adults and is not used to having to entertain himself by playing alone or with other children (this may be not true of you, but I think it's what I'd think first). I'd put him in a social skills group and work at playing games where lots of turn-taking and collaboration was needed. During activity time, I'd make sure that he had support to introduce him to all the resources and how to play with them and a watchful eye to support him where needed to keep him focussed on something. I may introduce a visual timetable where he was required to make his own choices about activities, and to choose (say) 2 to start with for each activity session.

I think rather than pandering to his preferences, it's important that the school supports him to build the skills he needs. In EYFS "free play" is not a free-for-all akin to the letting off steam that older children have after lunch. It's a time for the children to follow their interests and direct their own learning.

peppajay Sun 21-Oct-12 13:46:10

The teacher was talking about making him his own visual timetable this week so he knows what comes next and they can change if there are any changes in routine.

He is my second child so he has never really been used to that much 1:1 time with an adult at home he plays fantasically on his own and much prefers his own company to that of others. I think because he has always found 'free play' hard and he often lashes out in these situations I have never just let him be I have always followed otherwise I am scared what he will do but more often I avoid things like soft play or the park or go 1st thing at 8am or 530 when there is no one else there then he loves it. When there are rules set is social skills are great and he is fab at playing board games and taking turns in an adult led activity session but as you said when there is no adult there placing a structure he is lost but this isn't a new thing, he always hated mother and toddler groups where he would just cry until we went home!!! However I understand and he needs to learn there life doesnt always come with structure. Maybe I should have persevered and kept on with the mother and toddler groups and soft play etc but because he seemed to hate them I stopped going!! My DD I have brought up exactly the same as him and she has no issues at all! So I feel it is more a personality issue than the way I have brought him up.

cansu Sun 21-Oct-12 14:15:18

You may very well be talking about a child with social difficulties who will improve with practise but it may be worth considering whether there is anything else behind these problems. Have you had any ther concerns about his development?

RiversideMum Sun 21-Oct-12 17:26:52

So if he tolerates the activities when he's alone, it sounds like the issue is with other children rather than the activities. Does he play nicely with your DD?

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