DS - anxious about school or possible SENs? Please help I don't know what to do!(8 Posts)
I am hoping that the MN community might have some experience of this and any advice on what to do next please. I'm sorry it is long but I'm really worried.
DS is 8.5 and in Yr4. We have moved house to a new area and so he started a new school in Sept. He was previously at an excellent state school, one form entry, everyone lived very close to the school and it had a great community feel. He had friends but has never been a boy to have a best friend and I suspect the friendships were there as a result of having known his classmates since age 4. He loved going however and not once did he cry or worry about school, his attendance was literally 100%.
Now he's at a private school, 2 form entry with 22 children per class. It is a lovely school with a generally nice ethos and good teaching. I am really happy with the teaching and DS enjoys the work.
However he has no friends. Not one. Often now before school he complains of headache, tummyache, feeling ill. He says it isn't because of school. He has had bad constipation and had a couple of days of school last half term as he was genuinely in a lot of pain. But I think the worry made it worse and I do think it is because of school.
It doesn't help that we live 10 miles away, about 45 mins journey in traffic, and many children are spread out around the area so it's not a "local" school. The school is very proud of their confident pupils, though imo sometimes "confident" could translate to "pushy and a bit rude". The parents are not especially friendly (again in contrast to the very inclusive, chatty school gate culture of the last place) though I appreciate that starting in Yr4 is not the easiest route to making friends at parent level. But I have met probably 2 or 3 of the parents of kids in his year, I couldn't tell you who any other of his classmates' parents are.
I have spoken to the teacher and she is helping a bit, alas the boys in the class are football-mad and DS just isn't. He doesn't like playing it, watching it, talking about it. He has no interest in learning more about it. His teacher's solution is that one lunchtime a week he should try to join in with the playground football game. On the other lunchtime (he has clubs for 3 days) they will find an activity he likes and try to get other children to join in with him. I see that this is a fair approach, but DS is so nervous of being rubbish at football that the idea of joining in with a rough and tumble game involving yrs4-6 is too much for him to contemplate. So he is going to the library to read by himself instead. Sometimes he plays with 2 or 3 of the girls, but they often run away.
He told me the other day that he doesn't like talking to the other boys as they don't have conversation that interests him. He didn't understand that conversations don't always start with what interests you (he is great at chatting with adults however). tbh he wants to talk about Minecraft or maths or the solar system and isn't bothered about X factor or football or Strictly or superheroes. I have tried to get him interested to give him some currency in the playground but he won't engage. He says he often eats on his own and doesn't chat as the dining hall is too noisy and gives him a headache. He gets pushed back in the queue too most days as other pupils go to join their friends ahead in the queue.
I think there are two problems, one is DS and whether he has something more than basic anxiety going on (eg the conversation, noise issues - possible SENs?) and the other is whether he is just in the wrong school, full stop. I could look at moving him to a state primary, much nearer, bigger classes - but I cant' guarantee he would make friends, and he's just gone through the whole new home / new school transition - can I really put him through another new place?? Unfortunately DH's job means we are likely to move again before the end of primary school which makes it even worse.
If you have read all of this thank you. I didn't want to leave out crucial info. And just to clarify despite the user name I'm female!
Didn't want to read and run. Sounds like a stressful situation for all of you!
I don't really have any amazing suggestions, I'm afraid.
Is he really the only boy in his class who doesn't like football? What about the parallel class?
When you mention special needs, have there been any specific incidents that make you suspect this? Is this something you were thinking about in his old school?
I would suggest maybe giving him a bit more time at this school, and if nothing has improved by, say Easter, then maybe think about moving him. It's tricky because you don't want to send him somewhere where he is unhappy, but moving schools may not solve the problem.
I wouldn't worry too much about moving him again. I went to 5 different primary schools (Father in the RAF so lots of moving), and it's not too bad!
It's very early days I think, and breaking into an established group of friends is hard, especially when you don't appear to have the same interests. They probably will have something in common, they just haven't discovered it yet.
Can you arrange to have some kids home for tea, one at a time. My ds also dislikes football and suffers with anxiety (as well as being a bit of an 'individual') and this has really helped him develop relationships as he feels very comfortable, and less anxious, on his own turf.
Also, let him develop his own interests and activities away from school as this will give him confidence and help make friends who are nothing to do with school.
I don't think it's fair of the teacher to expect him to join in with the football if he hates it. I think that will just make him stand out more, as ime boys are very intolerant of those who lack football skills.
I find it difficult to believe he is the only one interested in Minecraft - could they set up a club for this - if only for a few weeks?
There must be other boys that don't play football. DS1 doesn't like football.But he always found a group of boys with similar interest. When he was in primary, he has a group of friends, they play spy game, hide and seek , running around in the playgroud. Now, in secondary, he also has a group of friends, they always chat in the courtyard.
Would you be able to ask teacher to find a buddy for your DS(It's better to find a boy with similar interest)? DS1's school pointed a buddy to a boy just moved from other country. And this buddy then just bring the boy into his friendship group. My DS1 is in this friendship group, so he is his friend as well now.
Changing school is always a hard thing. Not matter how sociable the child is.
My ds is similar, no interest in football and likes to talk about maths and computer.
His best friend was a girl until they got separated, and finally found like minded boy this year.
Autumnsky 's idea seems good. Teachers must know which child has similar interest to yours. He/she may not be in the same class, but I think it's a good idea to be introduced as buddy.
Also he may develop friendship through school clubs?
But in worst case scenario, if nothing get better, it may be better to move.
My child's school has 90 children. Yours has 44?
Better chance of finding like minded child in bigger school.
My ds was in a smallish, independant school till this year. He doesn't have any SEN, just a bit quirky, and doesn't like football/x factor and loves minecraft.
He didn't really have any friends, and the two he did get invited to play with lived so far away it was really difficult to make anything of it. He now goes to a close by school where 20% of the school have ASD. And is thriving! Because all the things that are in place to make life work, really works for him. He loves lunchtime coding club (everyday, supervised), can go to the library at lunchtime if he wants (again supervised), or scoot round on the track with others who need to move.
I wish we'd moved him much earlier tbh - we were happy with the school, but never felt like ds or we belonged there. It was great academically, but children were expected to fit into the 'norm'
So, in your situation, I'd be looking around to see what else is out there, and if your ds might be more comfortable in a different setting
Thank you everyone for your suggestions and advice. I will talk to the teacher again about finding a buddy. It really is the case that all the other boys in the class (about 10 of them) are totally absorbed by football. One of the parents I have spoken to mentioned it too (she has a girl) as being an issue, unprompted by me.
DS has had a good day, asked to go to the school Xmas party and likes the idea of asking someone for tea (& has someone in mind) so I feel more positive. The SEN side of things I waver over investigating as I think he's treading a line between quirky and mild SEN and I don't know if it would result in a positive outcome.
CMOT - is the new school private / small / special or was it just luck to find something that suited so well. I feel exactly as you say, that neither DS or I fit in at his school, which is frustrating as I found the head inspirational and exactly on my wavelength re all things education.
I also have some trial sessions booked for him at local martial arts clubs which I am hoping will give him more confidence and a broader set of interests!
I know I'm guilty of wanting him to be happy, right now! So am feeling calmer thanks to having a plan and thanks to all you lovely people.
It happens to be our local state middle school (yr5-yr7), but is the ASD base for a wider area. We did look at an indie school with an inclusive ethos, but it wasn't ds.
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