Help please! Child struggling with starting school...

(17 Posts)
nomoreminibreaks Fri 11-Sep-15 09:45:31

DS was so excited about starting school, he's confident and friendly and nursery told me he was probably the most 'ready' of all the children leaving to start school.

He went in fine on day one, no tears, just really excited. On day two I think he felt hurried in and wanted to keep saying goodbye. I didn't leave straight away (I know) and he ended up being picked up by the classroom assistant and dragged away literally kicking and screaming. Yesterday he was dragged in again and since coming home yesterday he's been tearful saying he doesn't like school and doesn't want to go back, that he wants to stay with me etc. Today was the worst yet. He really seems to panic saying goodbye but I'm assured that he's fine as soon as he's calmed down inside and has a great day.

He's a fan of routine and we had a little ritual when I dropped him at nursery (just waving through a certain window) - one time I got distracted and he had a bit of a meltdown like I've seen this week.

I can't be on my own here - I'm being told by everyone that he'll be fine, it'll get better and I know it will, but I wondered of anyone else had any tips? I think what we need to crack is distracting him from the 'I don't like school' conversation and also figuring out a goodbye 'routine' that works.

Thank you!

reni2 Fri 11-Sep-15 10:53:43

Change is hard for many 4 year olds. Maybe it helps if you remind him that he would be peerless at nursery since his friends are all at school now? That and coming up with a goodbye routine. Maybe ask him how he'd like to do the goodbye and follow it religiously.

ThePocPocHunt Fri 11-Sep-15 11:14:46

No advice really I'm afraid but just wanted offer sympathy and to let you know that you are definitely not alone - my son has followed almost EXACTLY the same pattern this week - v. excited on Monday, progressing to an absolute meltdown this morning to the extent that we had to drive him to school despite it being a five minute walk as I could not have physically got him there any other way. Left him lying on the floor, trying to crawl out the door, sobbing 'I just want Mummy' sad.

Cedar03 Fri 11-Sep-15 11:25:01

I would enlist the help of one of the teaching assistants. Ask them to help you make that transition - so that they meet you and your son and you hand him over, the TA has something there to distract him with, quick good bye from you and you walk off as quick as you can.

Your son is learning that school is something that will happen every single day and there isn't a choice about it. The meltdowns are quite normal (although hard for a parent) and in my experience the more time I spend there as a parent the harder it is for my child to get on with being at school.

nomoreminibreaks Fri 11-Sep-15 11:48:12

My god Poc that sounds so similar! It's heartbreaking isn't it? I had to go out of a different entrance leaving and I could still hear him screaming down the corridor. We'd been talking about how he could look after his friend (who was really nervous about it) and how he was really brave. I feel so silly but I just didn't see it coming.

nomoreminibreaks Fri 11-Sep-15 11:52:49

Thanks also Reni and Cedar. The TA has been helpful but is quite no-nonsense (with good reason of course). I felt slightly as if I'd been told off when she said it was best that I just left. It feels very different from nursery where everything is much more gentle (obviously!). I'm realising I need my hand holding through this just as much as he does!!

applecharlotte Fri 11-Sep-15 12:05:51

Hi - no advice either but I'm in exactly the same boat. DS had to be dragged off me this morning hysterical. Day 5 like others on here.

We went through the same last year at preschool and I just keep telling myself that he did settle eventually (looking at 4 weeks for the mornings if 'I don't want go to school conversations' to stop) and loved his preschool.

I've been looking in here for others in the same boat so thank you for starting this thread. I was beginning to think it was only my child!

TeenAndTween Fri 11-Sep-15 12:06:15

Depending on the routine, and what is allowed here are some things to try:

Arrive early and your DS is allowed in early to help with a job
Arrive a bit late so he isn't going in with the crush
Transition toy to hold as he goes in, smothered in kisses, (then it goes in his bag)
Treat at pick up if he goes in nicely
Stickers for going in nicely leading to a treat
Talking about something nice to look forward to after school.
Quick hug and kiss, hand to TA, walk away without looking back

Remember he is probably very tired, so also earlier nights than you are used to.
Talk about something to look forward to at school eg playtime, story time, whatever he is interested in.

DD2 hates goodbyes and went through clingy stages all the way to y4, we found a transition toy worked best for her. But in Reception the teacher also made a point to take her hand and talk to her every morning, which then settled her enough to go in.

It is heartbreaking at the time, but as you know he is OK after you've gone you just need to find a way of parting that works for you.

APlaceOnTheCouch Fri 11-Sep-15 12:17:01

All DCs are different but what worked for us was:
* Arriving just as the class went in worked best.
* Giving him some choices about how he went in eg do you want mum or dad to take you to the playground? do you want to hold my hand or walk in front of me? We made it clear that going to school wasn't optional but that there were small areas where he did have choice and control.
* We had to have a teacher or TA to hand him over to for the first wee while.
* The teacher or TA having a special job for him or something exciting to tell him worked very well
*having a reward chart with a section for 'going into school in the morning' then he could choose a special sticker

The things that didn't work for us were:
*arriving early - more time for panic and upset
* talking about what we would do after school or at pick-up - this lead to wails that he just wanted to do x,y,z now and not go to school
* having a little toy - it just distracted him during the school day too

It takes trial and error. He will settle but it is so tough seeing them upset flowers

Cedar03 Fri 11-Sep-15 12:49:37

A friend who used to teach reception said that she expected to have half the class in tears the first day, half the second day and then most of them in tears on the Monday after the first weekend when they realised they had to come again every week!

Its an exaggeration but remember that reception teachers will have seen it before many times.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Fri 11-Sep-15 12:55:00

You need to hand him over and just walk away. So he knows you are going. Plenty of time later to stand and chat. Short and sharp, see you later, bye. Go, let him cry it wont hurt him,.

NickNacks Fri 11-Sep-15 13:18:50

Day 5 here and dd (already turned 5) has cried for the first time. I was expecting it (she's PLB so i know the drill) but still hurts leaving her.

applecharlotte Mon 14-Sep-15 09:43:25

How was drop off this morning for everyone? Slightly better for us - no screaming and pulling off me, more sad face looking lost.

He spent all morning saying 'I don't want to go to school' but actually at times had a little smile on his face so I think he's trying it on mostly!!

ThePocPocHunt Mon 14-Sep-15 11:01:33

Glad to hear you had a slightly better drop off apple, gives me hope! We had a tough morning - DS was absolutely hysterical and had to carry him to school kicking and screaming. As we went into the playground the deputy head intervened and took us into her office; we arranged to meet at the end of the school day when she has had a chance to speak to DS's teacher about ways to ease the 'transition' into school. She then took him to his classroom sobbing sad. I know it has only been a week but we have to do something as can't go on like this! Hope everybody else has had a better morning.

applecharlotte Mon 14-Sep-15 12:42:20

Oh pocpoc thats so hard for you all. Sorry its been so upsetting. At least they are going to help with the transition and not just ignoring how upset he is. I hope the meeting is useful.

nomoreminibreaks Mon 14-Sep-15 20:27:04

PocPoc that sounds really tough. You poor things! I caught up with friends over the weekend and it seems there are some quite big differences in how they go into school. One school takes them in with parents separately to the other children and they have buddies to stay with them, another has parents go into the classroom and there's a question to answer with parents before parents leave, another staggers entry to a few children starting each day so is very gradual and so on. Ours had them line up in the playground and walk in without parents, which seems the harshest. I can't help thinking we wouldn't have had the drama last week if he'd been going to one of the other schools?

Today was much better as he went to breakfast club there, so I took him in (there were 5/6 other children there), said goodbye and then waved through the window once outside. No tears at all! Not counting my chickens though yet smile

ThePocPocHunt Wed 07-Oct-15 17:18:48

Just wanted to post an update on reception struggles and see how your DCs are getting on? We have had many more ups and downs (got to the point where DS was so hysterical he was in danger of hurting himself at one point) but I think we may have turned a corner finally (touch wood!).

We tried a few strategies, eg. TA meeting DS at the gate in the morning and taking him to a quiet corner but didn't seem to be helping. At the end of last week the deputy head suggested that we bring him in 10 minutes later than the other children and TA would meet him in the 'office' area at the front of the school, then take him through to the classroom round the back door. This actually seems to have made a difference! I think the quiet, one-to-one handover is what he needed.

We also now have a reward system where he collects 'points' for walking nicely to school, not having a meltdown when he gets there and extra points for jumping over things (eg. leaves, drain covers) on the way (excellent for distraction!). He then gets screen time at the weekend, with the number of minutes matching the number of points he has collected. He also gets some little treats during the week (a couple of sweets or stickers or whatever). It has taken a couple of weeks but he seems to be responding to this too now. I realise writing this down that it sounds a bit over-complicated but DS is a bit obsessed with numbers so LOVES the idea of points and adding them up at the end of the week using one of his collection of five calculators grin.

Anyway, this morning as I left he turned round and waved and said 'see you later mum! I felt like skipping all the way home!

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