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DD unhappy in year 4 at school, should we move her?

(24 Posts)
silver1977 Fri 17-Feb-17 18:28:51

Sorry this is long. We are so unsure what to do. DD2 has been unhappy at school for about 6 weeks, the first few weeks were awful, crying all the time at home, refusing to get ready for school etc. Us and teachers could not get to the bottom of it. One thing she keeps saying is she dislikes all the praying (it is a c.of.e school but they pray 5 times a day etc) it never used to be like this until we had a new headteacher. We have another daughter in year 7 at seniors who we need to collect as a little too far to walk and a son who is in year 2 of the same primary as DD2.

DD2 really wants to move schools, we have explained it can be hard moving schools and not knowing anybody but she is adamant it would be better. I enquired at another primary if there were any vacancies and there does happen to be a couple at the moment (not that I have told her that!). I am not against her moving schools at all, I am just concerned she would regret it and then we can't go back! She has a few very close friends where she is so I can't understand why she wants to move, they have had their little moments with each other as girls do that age but generally they are close, infact they have been very sweet with her while she has been teary in the mornings going in etc. The last 2 weeks she hasn't been crying going in and as we had hoped things seemed to be improving. However today she has come out of school crying as one of her friends left school today (transferring to the school I enquired at!) it has happened very quickly, none of her friends knew until today.

I'm not sure how the logistics would work with going to 3 schools twice a day! Does anybody else do it or am I crazy to even consider it? I want her to be happy but also not sure if moving schools would be better for her. Apart from then Christian aspect, we have no concerns with the school and she is doing well, above her expected levels etc. Is year 4 a difficult stage to move schools? Any experience or views would be greatly appreciated, thankyou!

ILoveDolly Fri 17-Feb-17 18:37:23

My daughter was at her most unhappy in year 4. I think it's difficult in terms of friendship etc.
I would strongly suggest you ask her to think about the positive aspects of her school life and try to brainstorm things she can do to improve matters.
I don't think that allowing her to change schools at the first difficulty is helpful as she does need to learn to be resilient in situations that are not ideal. School is not always fun, she has maybe got to try and manage for a bit.

cupcupcup Fri 17-Feb-17 18:38:02

I don't think 'praying' is a good enough reason if you are happy with everything else.

IME, they do morning prayer, grace x 2 and home prayer. Probably adds up to about 5 minutes out of the day. I presume the fifth is during religious education.

Jayfee Fri 17-Feb-17 18:42:56

I have never heard of praying 5 times a day. Both children and my husband went to Catholic schools. Why has her friend transferred to another school?

MidnightVelvetthe7th Fri 17-Feb-17 18:55:43

I moved my son in yr 4, different reasons but I also moved my DS2 who was in yr1 at the time so they both attended the new school.

In your shoes I would explain to your DD that moving schools is possible theoretically but she needs to provide you with more info about what's going wrong at current school, I'm not sure that too much praying is really the root cause of it. I'm assuming you have had a proper meeting with her teacher instead of just nipping in for 5 minutes after school, if not then try making a formal appointment with the teacher.

If its bad enough to move her, there could be an after school club or childminder who could pick your youngest up if timings are a problem, they do cost though.

bojorojo Fri 17-Feb-17 18:58:34

Praying 5 times a day! Mine went to C of E. we just had daily act of worship! I would take the leave at the other school before anyone else gets it. Maybe your DD had an j klj g her friend was leaving! Hence her desire to move too! I would go.

silver1977 Fri 17-Feb-17 20:31:23

Thanks for your replies, really appreciate hearing your view points. That's been my thinking ILoveDolly - she needs to learn to be more resilient and that life isn't always rosy. Then the next day I'm thinking, she's only 8, I just want her to be happy and help her! We have had meeting with the head, deputy head, student support person and teacher. Teacher is as baffled as us, she doesn't appear to be struggling with her work and friendships ok. I explained to the headteacher the religious aspect is bothering her as it has increased so much, she just said to her that when they pray she should just have her own thoughts for that time, she doesn't need to say or think what they do. There is a cover teacher they have once a week who is extremely religious (she has started up a bible club at lunchtimes) and as lovely as she seems to me, my DD says she puts a religious spin on everything they do, it is too much! My DS quotes allsorts so I can see what it must be like. We are not actively practising Christians but not against the beliefs either IYSWIM. Is this not normal for a c.of.e school then nowadays? I went to a c.of.e school and it wasn't like that but I presumed that's what they have to do now as they have a church ofsted don't they. The school got a Good result for this, whereas my nieces school has an outstanding church ofsted and they don't pray 5 times a day!

cupcupcup Fri 17-Feb-17 20:38:00

Not normal ime but if it is only one teacher then to move her is an overreaction. She'll have someone new very very soon.

jamdonut Sat 18-Feb-17 11:10:48

I'm wondering about the content of the praying?

Our school ( not C of E) has always had links with a nearby church, and go to workshops there at various times in the year. The previous vicar used to do prayers that mentioned things like " forgive our wickedness" and basically putting " the fear of God" into the kids. For someone like myself, a non-believer, and who thinks religion is for people to decide when they are old enough to make an informed decision, it used to make me really mad! I had a child ask me " Are we all bad, then?" hmm
Thank goodness he has moved on, and the new vicar and his wife are much more general , and talk about things in a very child friendly way (that doesn't make me feel uncomfortable, either!) They are lovely people.
So to go back to the OP...I would be interested to find out exactly how this new teacher goes about linking everything to religion, and what the content of the prayers is about.
If it is " We are not worthy" etc...I would not be happy at all.

SpringsInMySteps Sat 18-Feb-17 14:51:20

I would imagine that there is something going on apart from the religious aspect. But, it maybe she has decided she does not "believe" and finds it difficult to square performing the acts of worship with her lack of belief?

I would suggest you tell your DD that she cannot move at the moment and it may not be possible to do so. Also that you all (as a family) need to work out what is really making her unhappy or what she would like to be different at another school (if there was ever a chance to move) so that it doesn't happen again. Explain that you all need to be really careful moving to something new without working out what is wrong.

Yr 4 can be a real turmoil friendship wise (especially for girls - no sexism there - just relationships are different for girls and boys). Is there something there?

Try taking her on a few walks/car drives where you are sitting side by side- often much easier to talk and open up if you are not facing each other.

I really think you need to get to the bottom of it all before you consider moving her.

LarkDescending Sat 18-Feb-17 16:08:49

Are you close enough to have a chat with the parent(s) of the child who's leaving to find out why? They may have some insight into issues possibly affecting both children.

Bluntness100 Sat 18-Feb-17 16:14:32

The praying does seem excessive but I'm unsure it could realistically be the cause of so much upset for her? I think maybe something else is going on. Is she saying she'd be happy to stay if the praying stopped?

silver1977 Sat 18-Feb-17 18:33:50

Thanks again everyone for responding, I think I'm going to speak to her teacher again when we return after half term and get a picture of what she is like during the day and what the prayer content actually is. Our DS says he sees her happy with her friends at playtimes. I'm wondering now whether repeating the same things over and over to us has become a bit of a habit and its getting her some attention! I feel awful saying that but I just cant see there's a 'big' enough reason to move her. She is quite a sensitive child, I'm wondering if she is over-reacting really, I don't know! She has face-timed her friend who left today and she has been showing her the new uniform and sounding excited so that's not helpful for our DD really, I will need to stop her doing that although she is happy to speak to her. Our puppy got hold of the lovely letter she had written her and chewed it up, that set her off again! I've done my best with the cellotape! Thanks everyone...we will see how the next few weeks pan out.

SpringsInMySteps Sat 18-Feb-17 19:09:08

silver Yes! I saw there was an update and as the thread was opening I remembered back to DD being in Yr4 and everything was a drama and awful and terrible. Or the way she told it.

She was having some friendship issues which did take some resolving but every day after school I would get the low down of the awful stuff. The "she said this" and ""they did this". It would break my heart and set of the protective tiger in me. Was good overall as we did some role-play/coaching/self-esteem/friendship lessons around the whole mess. But what I remember discovering about 2-3 weeks (poss longer) into the daily woes was that I had to remember to ask how things ended. So I got the negative "drama". The tears. The woe. If I then asked "How long did you feel like this?' or "How did playtime end?" or "How were you all getting along after that?" then inevitably I got a breezy "Oh it was only for playtime break, we were fine at lunch and the rest of the day". In essence she "vomitted" out the emotional blackspots of the day and never told me the positives iyswim. So my view of her school day was it was a black, dark, miserable place and my poor little girl was so, so unhappy. In reality there was a shitty bit for about 5 minutes which was resolved and once she told me forgotten about.

Once I started giving it less attention the vomiting stopped iyswim. A breezy "Oh well, that was rotten but at least you were all friends for the majority of the day..." was enough to acknowledge the bad times and help her move on.

(BTW I am not as heartless as I sound - I did step in when necessary and coaching/role plays etc over the years have got her into an emotionally strong and happy place a couple of years on. Just Yr4 was a high-emotion/dramatic year which I needed to learn how to respond to appropriately - to calmly assess the situation rather than respond to the drama).

SO yes - keep the drama/attention low key. Find out what (if anything) the issues really are before doing anything drastic. If what is upsetting her is something in her atm (eg her emotional responses to friendship issues) then they will follow her to a new school and she/you will be no better off.

flowers though. It is tough to listen to.

silver1977 Sat 18-Feb-17 22:39:09

Ah thankyou for your post SpringsInMySteps, you sound a lovely mummy! I know girls can be little drama queens at this age can't they. I can see she comes out of school smiling with her friends, its when we get home we have the continual asking to change schools and how much she dislikes it, she's got it into her head that everything will be rosy at a new school. I've tred explaining that there will people you don't always get along with wherever you go in life, it may even be worse at a new school, then what?! You're right, I think we need to just calmly listen, acknowledge her worries but keep focusing on the positives and hope she springs back to the happy 8 year old we once had! Thankyou.

ElsieMc Mon 20-Feb-17 13:59:36

You sound both caring and level headed. I certainly don't recommend going to three schools twice a day, that's setting yourself up to fail because there will always be clashes of timetables.

I am a gp carer and moved my gs eighteen months ago. This was after a long period of dissatisfaction with the school ranging from standards, cliques, poor governance, weak headship, bullying amongst the staff - you name it, they had it. Instead of demonstrating open distress, my gs just became quieter and quieter until other parents began to notice. I arranged to see the Head, but looked at my list of grievances and realised it was insurmountable. We looked at another school on the Monday and he just stayed there.

No new school will be perfect; this new school is a whole lot more rough and ready in a more urban environment and the year he is in is pretty tough. But I have never seen him happier - at least you know your enemy! The staff are committed and the head offers extra maths tuition even though she is the head of two schools.

You really need to feel it is the end of the road before moving a child because it brings it's own anxieties believe me and I am doing this all second time round.

I echo other posters who say to speak to the parents of the other child who has moved, it might well be a real eye opener for you.

Narnia72 Sat 25-Feb-17 17:07:08

Just wanted to say I have a DD who is having a really tough time in Y4 too. It breaks my heart sometimes. It started with her former best friend (from reception to Y3) bullying her, a type of bullying called relational aggression. Sometimes she'd let her play, other times she wouldn't, and would tell the other girls in the shared circle of friends not to play. They have been moved away from each other and now just ignore each other, but it was a term of heartbreak and I'm sure a lot of it is down to prepubescent hormones whizzing around. This term she's had an unexplained bladder problem, no infection, but persistent needing to go and pain, and anxiety around it. I am worried it's psychological. I have had to go into school more times this year than I've ever been in in total in the previous 3 years, in fact, I don't think I've ever had to go in before. She used to bounce in, now she's white faced and just a shadow of her previous self. I have been reading some of the Steiner writings on 9 year olds, and a lot of it makes sense, google it. Basically about their changing view of life and relationships and their role in the world. She cries a lot and worries about me and DH arguing, terrified we're going to split up, no matter how much we reassure her. We don't argue in front of the kids but sometimes have "discussions" after they've gone to bed. Just normal life stuff and not particularly heated, but she takes it all to heart. We've thought about changing schools, and even the dreaded home schooling, but I think, after a lot of thought, she's just got to toughen up and it will be the same wherever she goes. A lot of the girls in her class have older siblings and are therefore much more grown up than she is, she's still a little girls who loves animals and dolls, and they're into youtube and make up. She dresses for comfort rather than for fashion, unless she chooses an ultra pretty party dress, they're in bomber jackets and sequin tops. I can see she doesn't fit in very well, I have no idea how to solve it or to give her more self esteem and confidence. But you are not alone.

I am thinking of trying to find a course to help her. Our school doesn't have Place2B connections, but I've found a one day event in London that might help. I even thought about creating something myself, there seems to be so many 8-9 girls struggling.

Trb17 Sat 25-Feb-17 18:21:07

In my experience Y4 is the start of the really difficult time for girls with friendships, hormones, emotions and all that. Y5 wasn't great either but seemed to not be as bad. Now DD is in Y6 she seems to have settled a little more and toughened up a bit although still has the odd issue.

I've witnessed a girl move into DD's school in Y4 because of friend issues in her previous school and sadly she's having the same problems now here. So in a way it has shown that it's either very bad luck or that the girl herself possibly needs to find a solution rather than move away.

I think that to move without getting to the truth of the cause would be a mistake, but in reality your DD might not really know a reason and just feel all over the place at the moment. It's a hard age and I hope she finds a happier time soon.

HaveNoTimeToThinkOfName Mon 27-Feb-17 14:02:08

Just noticed the latest posts, sorry to hear you've had similar issues, it's heartbreaking isn't it! Today was the first day back after half term for our DD and the tears started yesterday, she follows us around the house, wanting cuddles all the time. She was teary this morning but went in without coaxing! I'm hoping she's had a good day. I think you're all right about the hormone thing in year 4, I remember DD1 finding year 4 tough with friends etc although she never asked to move schools! We have had en email from school today about a communion in the school hall Friday morning! Its crazy! Do you think I can speak to the Head about how the church stuff is affecting her? Is it worth bothering with? I'm sure just our opinion wont change anything there!

Reow Mon 27-Feb-17 14:05:36

Praying 5 times a day?! Holy shit.

HaveNoTimeToThinkOfName Mon 27-Feb-17 14:06:37

Narnia72 I hope your daughter finds some friends that accept her for who she is. My eldest is 11 and I feel she is the same (she is a summer born) she seems younger than some of her peers, she still loves anything pink and sparkly and certainly isn't interested in make up yet! I think we need to just try and give them as much confidence as possible so they feel they can be themselves. I think girls grow up too quick nowadays (I sound like my mother I know but it's true!) they're not children for long so I'm glad my daughter is like that, I'm sure it will change soon enough! Your daughter shouldn't feel she has to 'fit in' with anyone, hard though isn't it.

ThermoScan Wed 01-Mar-17 09:10:54

Reading with interest as similar request from eldest son in year 3. Asking to move schools for about 2 months,main issues are friendship related ,says he does not fit in ( I can see where he is coming from but have not openly agreed with him). Asks me every day if I have picked up the transfer form but does not cry or refuse to go ,achieving well and likes the teachers .
I have 2 younger children at the same school who are happy.If I moved anyone they would all have to move eventually due to logistics so holding off.
It's helpful to see replies that this age often throws up problems like this.I'm just waiting to see if it blows over at present as very aware that moving might throw up other problems. It's hard to ignore the constant plea to move though and I'm not sure how unhappy he really is.

OdinsLoveChild Wed 01-Mar-17 09:57:19

Its a really difficult thing to deal with. I did move my DD and DS (years 3 and 5 at the time) because they both said they were very unhappy.

My DH pointed out that had it been me affected in the workplace would I keep telling myself I need to get a grip and just soldier on or would I look for somewhere else. It's obvious I would have looked elsewhere and all I was actually teaching my children is that their thoughts and feelings don't matter enough to me to do anything about it.

Both my children were so much happier after moving them and my DD actually told me she was the happiest she had ever been at the new school. Sometimes a change is whats needed for our children to enjoy school/life more but make it clear to your DD that once she moves that's it, it cannot be undone.

SpringsInMySteps Wed 01-Mar-17 14:19:22

Odins I totally agree you have to listen to your children - but I think you need to understand - and/or help the children to understand what the problem is before you move - otherwise you may not solve anything. If the actual problem is playtimes are too noisy and overwhelming - well that will be an issue in all but the tiniest of schools. If they struggle with sitting still/concentrating then that will be an issue in any school (until it is addressed if SEN/age/development issues etc). If they are overly physical or overly bossy in their own play and are losing playmates because of it - that will follow them. So you cannot, imvho just move becuase a child is "unhappy." With your example and leaving a workplace - you would work out why you were unhappy before looking for another job - so that you did not end up in exactly the same scenario.

My DD is happier than she has ever been this year too - but that is because the friendship issue she had have been solved. She is still at the same school. Same people. Same peer group. Just we have worked on her self-esteem and belief that rubbish friends are not actually friends and she is worth more than that. This has helped her establish new, stronger, better friendship groups in Yr6 (which amusingly is anecdotally the worst year).

YY move if there is an unsolvable problem or the school is not doing what the can/should to help your child be happier. But you need to get the balance right between teaching your child to work out what the issue is, attempt to solve it before you look at plans to leave/move away from it.

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